Beware New Domain Name Scam

There’s a new internet domain name scam going around and its perpetrators tried to target our sister site Jezebel. Basically how it works is that a website operator will get a very official looking email saying they’re an internet registration company and that someone applied to use your domain name except with a different suffix, instead of .com, .cn, in this instance. Then, says, Kevin Tjaden, Client Services Manager at MarkMonitor, If you respond to the e-mail they will register the domain and offer to “recover” it for you for a large fee. It has been a pretty successful so you will see more of them in the future. It is best to treat them like spam and do not reply.”

Inside is the email that our fellow editor received as an example so you will know what to watch out for…

From: john@chinaregistry.cn
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:36:57 +0800
To: [redacted]
Subject: Notification of intellectual property

Dear manager,

This is Shanghai Oupu Information Technology Inc. which is a professional interenet brand&domain name registration and service company in China . On 7th, Jan. I received EFEDA international company’s application.they want to register “jezebel”as “.cn”domain names and internetbrands.

But after checking it I find these domain names conflict with your company’s name.In order to avoid the unnecessary conflict ,lt’s necessary to send email to the owner of this name and confirm whether you have authorized EFEDA to register the domain name and internetbrand or not?

Best Regards
John Yuan
Principal of Checking Department
Overseas Registration Organization
Tel:+(86)21-5425 3330
Fax:+(86)21-5425 5521

Comments

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  1. JPropaganda says:

    i got one of these emails! Thank god I ignored it.

  2. Howie999 says:

    That was an “official looking e-mail”? Gee, if I’m trying to scam somebody, I’d at least use proper English.

    Oh, wait….

  3. GitEmSteveDave says:

    Glaring punctuation and grammar errors. Must be a high end legit company. I’m surprised they didn’t use the letter 1 for i’s.

  4. Faerie says:

    “Principal of Checking Department”

    Oh, that’s awesome.

  5. tinmanx says:

    Old news, they’ve been doing this for years. I’ve gotten these as snail mail and emails.

  6. IrisMR says:

    Can you reply with insults?

  7. lhempheaven says:

    @Howie999:

    Don’t you mean “Engrish?!”

  8. coan_net says:

    I’m not sure what the issue would be – if someone wanted the their domain in another extension, why would they wait until they got an e-mail saying it could be lost. I know I buy all the domains I want right away – .com, .net, .org, .info, and .biz …. even got a .us & .ws just so no one else would get them

  9. nutrigm says:

    I got that email too. I responded saying “If you register the same name as me I will sue you and you will lose!”.. haven’t heard back from them since… am I at risk now or something for replying?

  10. Nytmare says:

    As Manager of the Scam-chuckling Section of the Spam-chucking Division at Local Household in City, I hereby perform my official duties in snickering at this letter.

  11. rmz says:

    “Checking Department”

    hahahaha

  12. magus_melchior says:

    Somehow I’m tempted to “forward” it to the Chinese government with the appropriate headers spoofed and “china.org” replacing “jezebel”.

    Of course, I’d have to “commandeer” a computer in China first…

  13. MercuryPDX says:

    @Ben (and everyone else): If you really want to upset the apple cart, forward that email with the explanation to the .CN registry*: support(AT)neustar.com.cn . Depending on how aggressive Neustar is, shady registrar can have their ability to sell that particular domain yanked.

    *A Registry is the group in charge of a particular domain extension. A registrar is a company that is “licensed”/authorized by the registrar to sell that particular extension.

    [ie. You can purchase a .com address can at billsdomainsales.com (registrar), who is accredited by ICANN (registry) to sell that domain extension.]

    Registries vary in their enforcement on issues like this, so YMMV. You can find out who the registrar for a particular Country Code Top Level domain (CCtld) is on wikipedia. Be sure to click the extension (.cn) and not the country name (People’s Republic of China), unless you want as geography lesson. :)

  14. juri squared says:

    I’ve gotten this before. I had to reread it to figure it out; they were talking about a .com but my domain was a .org.

  15. MercuryPDX says:

    @mercurypdx: Frack///

    *A Registry is the group in charge of a particular domain extension. A registrar is a company that is “licensed”/authorized by the registry to sell that particular extension.

  16. Parting says:

    ”Principal of Checking Department” = I’ll cash your check and will run

  17. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I still can’t figure out why I would care if someone registered the same domain name, except with a different extension.
    Why would this bother me?
    Unless I had a registered (to me) trademark for a domain name, but then I’d have a right to it regardless of who registers it or where.

  18. LawyerontheDL says:

    I think that the job title “Principal of Checking Department” should be a heads up.

  19. Lawk Salih says:

    Have you guys seen this?

    [blog.domaintools.com]

  20. Lawk Salih says:

    @lawksalih: Network Solutions steals domain ideas; Confirmed!

  21. Instigator says:

    I can has ur domain name?

  22. nursetim says:

    “a very official looking email”
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  23. Negative says:

    All ur domain names are belong to us!!!

  24. Buran says:

    @nutrigm: I doubt you’d win if you seriously did try to sue for that. It’s different if you steal a real registered domain (e.g. sex.com) than if you just beat someone to the name.

  25. Negative says:

    The way I understand it is that if you’ve been running a business called “Xzarge” for the last 10 years and suddenly someone else took the name Xzarge.com you could sue for the rights to that domain. I don’t know what the rules would be in any other case.

  26. MercuryPDX says:

    @Negative @Buran: It also can apply to other TLDs and ccTLDs, but that all depends on how the registry chooses to enforce it.

    As a point of reference, the ICANN has information here:
    [www.icann.org]

    The actual .CN policy, which would be your “legal recourse” to the action presented in the above scam-mail is here:
    [www.cnnic.net.cn]

  27. Exek says:

    I got one in the mail the other day asking me to renewal my domain early. I found it weird since my domain is paid up until the beginning of 09 and the pricing was different and the domain company asking for me to renewal was not the same company that I have my domain registered with. So I figured it was a scam and threw it away. But I wonder how many ppl fall for it.

  28. erica.blog says:

    Only a very small percentage of the consumer public actually owns any domain names; as scams go, it’s not likely to cause widespread misery (unlike, say, phishing and identity theft). Fingers crossed that site owners/operators are saavy enough to ignore it. Or, if you don’t give a flying crap about actually owning the *.cn version of your domain, make them waste their money registering it?

    A much bigger worry for domain owners should be the simplicity with which they can be stolen from you.

  29. MercuryPDX says:

    @erica.blog: make them waste their money registering it?

    Oh if only it were that simple.

  30. Codis says:

    At the company I used to work for in south beach, I actually received a phone call from a company trying to pull the same scam.

  31. The e-mail version of this scam is indeed somewhat new (I got one a while ago), but the basic scam has been around since the very early days of the Web. I blogged about it here.

  32. stopNgoBeau says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: Even if you had a registered trademark, its not going to do you much good if someone from, say China or Korea, registers that domain, but with a different TLD. Countries like that don’t care what American trademarks, copywrites, etc. mean.

  33. mackjaz says:

    Just got one of these… it does look somewhat official and might catch one off guard – unless they visit consumerist.com. The domain name www,domainnotificationcentral,com seems to be located in New York.

    It’s just spam.

  34. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    I’m tempted to persuade them to buy the domain name and then ignore them and refuse to give them money to “recover” the name. If enough people fool them into wasting their money buying meaningless domain names without getting anything in return, this scam will die off.

  35. shch says:

    We have a domain name registered to my office, and we were getting letters from some unnamed company telling us to pay the monthly $50 charge to them for domain access. Come to find out our accountant was opening these and mailing a check to them every month for several months until someone looked into it a little bit and realized we were actually paying for nothing, just sending checks to some company and receiving no services in return. On the bottom of the letters, in small print, it says “this is not an invoice or official bill. this is a solicitation” but of course the accountant was not reading this. Not sure if we got our money back or not.