I just found the following email sent to us in our easyDNS support queue:
From: Global Domains International Subject: Regarding your domain name neverloseanotherdomain.net Date: Tue, 01 May 2012 17:01:41 +0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Global Domains International Hello, I have the .COM version of your domain name neverloseanotherdomain.net for sale. Would you be interested in buying the domain for $250 seeing as though you own the same domain but in another extension ? We can use Escrow for the transfer and I will cover the fees. Let me know Thankyou Shawn. Global Domains International
How The Scam Works
The first time I saw this one, I figured that the guy on the other end simply screwed up, because when I went to check the whois record for the domain I realized that he hadn't registered the domain yet!
I figured "his screw-up, our gain", and I simply hand-registered the domain myself. No need to spend $250 on a simple domain registration on an unregistered domain that matched one we already owned.
Then I got the exact same thing for another domain a little while later and I finally realized what was happening: it was just another domain registration scam.
All these guys do is harvest the public records for domain registrations, then look for "gaps", where a .com may still be available for a .net that is registered. They compile a list of these "targets" and then email the .net domain holders.
If any of them "bite" and agree to buy the .com version then all they do is hand register the domain themselves on spot and turn around and sell it to you for $250! Instant arbitrage.
So every time I see these emails now I simply hand register the domain for a fraction of the price.
Save Yourself the Trouble of a Legal Hassle
The other aspect of these emails are that they are deliberately targeting domains you already own, relying on your desire to "defend your mark" to agree to their terms. Their price is $250, about 1/10th what it would cost you to launch a domain dispute against them if they really owned the name.
If they did really own the domain names they are trying to sell to unwitting registrants, what they are doing is a near-textbook case for a Domain Dispute Proceeding or "UDRP" (Universal Domain Resolution Protocol).
(Remember the following if you ever find yourself facing somebody offering to sell you a variation of your name for real:)
Under the UDRP, a domain registrant must be able to prove 3 things in order to have a domain name transferred from a third party to themselves:
- That the person who registered the domain has no legitimate interests in the domain
- That your business is or could be impaired by the confusion caused by their ownership of this name.
- An element of "Bad Faith" – that is that they registered the name with the implicit intent to either impair your brand/mark or to profit by selling it to you.
Had the scammers sending these emails really registered the alternative versions of these domains they would lose any UDRP launched against them – but it would cost 10 times as much as simply buying it from them.
This is the logic they are relying on when they send these scams out.
Don't fall for it:
- Use a tool like easyWhois.com to verify who really owns a domain (we also have this handy free iPhone app version of easyWhois)
- When you register a domain name and want to "lock it up", try to get the following versions: .com, .net, .org and the country-code domains of your home country, i.e. .ca or .de
- The rest of the variations you can probably not worry about. There is another scam trying to get you to register your name in obscure foreign country codes.
More on that one in another post.