Domain Renewal Scam

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"Wait for signs, believe in lies, to get by, it's divine."
Pearl Jam / Tremor Christ

Posted on January 29, 2005 6:44 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Back in November I received an email concerning one of the domains I own. The person or company emailing me wanted to purchase the domain. Because that particular domain was about to expire in a matter of days, I quickly renewed and sent a reply asking for an offer. The email I replied to consisted of:

Hello,

Are you interested in selling somedomain.com?

If so, please respond with your asking price or at least a price range if your looking for offers. We are planning to make a web portal. Our purpose is to buy this domain from you and use it in this project. We can make the domain transfer operations safety, over escrow.com. I can pay for the cost of domain transfer operations. If you accept, please let me know.

Thanks for your time.

Best Regards,

Garden Interactive

Unfortunately, I never received a reply, and so here I was with another year left on a domain that I would have otherwise let expire.

Almost a month later, I received a similar email. This time around, though, it contained an actual monetary offer:

Hello,

Are you willing to sell somedomain.com to me. I am starting a new business and thought this would be a good name. I'm making an offer of 1500 USD. please let me know.
Thanks for your time.

Best Regards,

Fanhouse Solutions, Inc

At first, being the gullable bloke that I am, I got a little excited. When someone makes you an offer of $1,500 for a domain that only cost about $9 to purchase, you really want to make the deal happen. I, of course, sent a reply accepting the offer on the off-chance that it might be legit. I, of course, never received a reply.

Shortly after sending my response to the second email, I again felt like I was being duped in some way. This time, though, they were making an offer on a domain that wasn't due for renewal for a little under a year (given that I had just renewed it after receiving email #1), and that didn't make as much sense. Nevertheless, I went back and compared the second email to the first and realized there are some distinct similarities.

I then put my conspiracy theorist hat on and began to wonder if I really had been duped by some online spam-like scam to get people to renew their domains that are about to expire. It seems like quite an underhanded move if it has any connection to the actual domain registrars, though, so I guess my one unanswered question is "what's in it for these scammers?"

If anyone has any insight on the matter or has had a similar experience, I'd love to hear about it. I'm only out nine bucks, but it still irks me a bit that I got fooled into renewing a domain I no longer need nor want.

Or as the immortal Kip would say, "I'm just kinda T-O'ed."

Comments

Todd on February 09, 2005 at 11:57 AM:

We periodically receive the same emails. What is the first thing you did when you received it? Didn't you feel compelled to see what escrow.com was? Unique method of advertising, eh?

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Lev on February 09, 2005 at 12:15 PM:

Hi,

I found your post when I searched for the unusually phrased "domain transfer operations safety, over escrow" because I had recieved an anonymous offer as well.

I do get offers from time to time, some legitimate and some just curious people hoping I'm stupid.

The timing of it being near renewal I believe was just a coincidence. I think what is really going on is a spam "ping". They send a seemingly non-spam message to verify if the email address in whois is valid, and also if you reply with a different email address -- now they acquired another email address for their spam list.

Lev

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Bernie Zimmermann on February 09, 2005 at 4:11 PM:

Thanks for the interesting insight, Todd and Lev. I hadn't even thought of those angles.

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