Most registrars do that.
People search for a domain and then after 3 days they register it under their name.
Happens all the time.
I just type any web address I want into IE and if I get a 404 it's probably free.
Just do a whois on somerandomshit.com, haharipedyouofftoo.com, dnsthievingarsehole.com, nohairpieforyou.com, justcostyoutwobucks.com, gotthejokeyet.com...
Every time they register that shit they are out something like $2.50.
Hell, write a perl script that usesadictionary.com
Not correct, there is an "add grace period" where the registrar can keep the domain for up to (I think) 5 days without being charged by the registry.
A lot of unscrupulous registrars make use of that to "sample " for domains getting lots of type in traffic then they keep the domain with an advertising page on it.
Edit to add: if he is lucky OP will probably find the domain available again now.