Domain Name Registration Scams

Domain Name Registration Scams

Here's a really sleazy attempt to con people using the information available from the public domain name registrars.  If you own a website, and particular, a domain name, you will probably soon receive an email that looks like the one below.  We've substituted generic phrases in purple for the names you'll see, but other than that, this is what you will see.

Here's how their scam works:  The owner of a domain name receives an email like the one below, that looks almost exactly like a bill to register the domain name.  The subject of the email "This is your final notice of domain listing" clearly implies that your domain registration has expired and you are about to lose your domain name.

The email looks very much like a bill or invoice.  They claim to offer you renewals, at horrific prices; $75/year (the current price from www.godaddy.com, by comparison, is $8.95/year)

You can report them here:

Advertising Standards Canada (ASC)
Address: 175 Bloor Street East, Suite 1801, Toronto, ON M4W 3R8
Telephone: +1 416 961 6311
Fax: (1 416) 961 7904
E-mail: linda.nagel@adstandards.com
Website: http://www.adstandards.com
Main Contact: Ms. Linda J. NAGEL
Other Languages Spoken: English

And for their violation of the CAN-SPAM act:

To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The FTC advises consumers to protect themselves by:

  1. Avoiding any domain name pre-registration service that guarantees particular top level domain names or preferential treatment in the assignment of new top level domain names.
  2. Avoiding doing business with people who send unsolicited faxes - regardless of the offer. Unsolicited faxes are illegal.
  3. Staying on top of the news about top level domain names at the ICANN website, www.icann.org.

We can add to that:

  1. Stick to well known, larger domain registrars (like Godaddy.com, 1and!.com, etc.).  They have the best rates (usually) anyway.
  2. Once you have registered your domain name, return to the same registrar for renewals and any changes.
  3. If you want to change domain registrars, do so through the process established, by starting at your current registrar.

Example Scam:

Here is what the scam email looks like: (you can see another version from a Canadian address, here and a version from a New York address, calling itself "Domain Solutions Central")

-----Original Message-----
From: Domain Services [mailto: tom@nicheintl.com ]
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 5:29 PM
Subject: Domain Notification: Yourname This is your Final Notice of Domain Listing!.
Importance: High

DOMAlN LlSTING CENTER
8171 Yonge St. Suite# 149
ThornhiIl, ON  L3T 2C6
Canada

FlNAL NOTlCE
(Please make necessary changes)
ATT: Your Name
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTACT
Your Name
Your email address
Your mailing address
www.yourwebsiteaddress.com

 
DESCRlPTION OF SERVICES:
Premium Package

 

ANNUAL WEBSlTE SEARCH ENGlNE SUBMISSlON
FROM  MAY 1,2006 THRU MAY 1,2007
TOTAL

 

$75.00
$75.00

 

 

SUBSCRIPTlON INCLUDES:

 

 

  • Custom keyword research
  • Optimized titIe and meta tags
  • Submission to 900 search engines and directories
  • safe follow-up re-submissions every 3 months
  • HelpfuI professional support
 

THIS IS NOT A BlLL.  This is a solicitation.  You are under no obIigation to pay the amount(s) stated unless you accept this offer.


Domain Name

www.yourwebsiteaddress.com

Amount

 

Requested Reply

March 17th,2006

THIS NOTICE IS A SOLICITATION AND A RECEIPT OF PAYMENT WILL CONFIRM YOUR ANNUAL SUBMISSION
*100% SATISFACTION IS GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK

[ ] Please select the number of years you would like to signup for
    [ ] 1 Year   ..........  $75
    [ ] 2 Years   ..........  $85
    [ ] 5 Years   ..........  $185 (Recommended)
    [ ] 10 Years ..........  $295 (Best Value, Most Recommended)

Total $ _______



________________________________
Signature

________________________________
Date


Payment by Check or Money Order
Print and mail a copy of this order form along with a check or money order to the address listed below:
Domain Listing Center Inc.

8171 Yonge St. Suite# 149
Thornhill, ON  L3T 2C6
Canada


If you are unable to pay by check, please fill out the section below and mail or fax this form to (718) 208-4213
Name:
E-Mail Address:
Phone:




By accepting this offer, you agree not to hold DLC liable for any part.  Note that THIS IS NOT A BILL.  This is a solicitation.  You are under no obIigation to pay the amounts stated unless you accept this offer. The information in this letter contains confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the Domain Listing Center Inc. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above. Email domainlistingcenter@hotmail.com if you do not want to receive further updates from DLC. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents for this letter is strictly prohibited.

* 100% satisfaction guaranteed, you may request a refund within 30 days if your are not satisfied with our services.

 


Scam names:

Other scam names in use are Siteleader.com - a visitor wrote CFR on 3/26/2007 to report that they are asking for money to renew the Domain Name Registration for his website. This may well be a scammer completely unrelated to the real company named Siteleader.com that does domain registrations.  That company is a small Wilmette, Ill.-based domain name and hosting company (Raul Herediais named as Site Leader Inc.'s vice president).  Siteleader.com is not without it's own controversies, since they charged for "pre-registration reservations" which is not the same thing as actually registering your domain name. Note that the FTC says that paid-for pre-registrations are a scam. See this consumer alert where the commission warns consumers against registrars that promise preferential treatment in the registration process in exchange for a fee, since the reservations won't necessarily ensure an actual registration. See this Wired.com article for more information. To see other discussion and complaints about Siteleader.com, see this page.

 UPDATE November 7, 2007: It appears as though Siteleader.com has gone out of business. Gee, what a surprise!

Other Domain Registration Scams

"Domain Registry of America" (also called "Domain Registry of Canada")

This "company" is targeting domain name owners to transfer their domains by renewal. They are a reseller who use the following ICANN accredited registrars:

  • eNom Inc. (eNom.com)
  • Brandon Gray Internet Services, Inc. (NameJuice.com)

They obtain your contact information through the publicly accessible WHOIS database, and send renewal notices through regular postal mail in an envelope and on stationary that is intentionally designed to look like an official renewal notice.

Do not make any payments to "Domain Registry of Canada"/"Domain Registry of America" in order to renew your domain. Just renew your domain, when necessary, with the registrar you initially used! You can always transfer your domain to another company at any time, if you so choose!

If you have already made a payment to this company, we suggest contacting your bank or credit card company and ask for the payment to be stopped or reversed.

" Domain Registry of America" have already had a court injunction against them with regard to domain name reselling. For more information, please read these articles:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/12/domainreg.htm
http://www.whois.sc/news/2002-12/registry-america.html


"EU Registry Services" - Cambridge

"EU Registry Services" is sending out letters in the postal mail regarding domain names with upcoming renewals. The letters are entitled "DOMAIN EXPIRATION NOTICE" and are blatantly misleading, urgently requesting domain owners to "renew immediately to ensure service continues uninterrupted".

The letter has a tear-off slip at the bottom for you to detach and send with your check. Under no circumstances should you send any payment to these people. This is a blatant scam.

"EU Registry Services" has already received attention from the Advertising Standards Authority regarding a misleading claim over .eu domains:
http://www.asa.org.uk/adjudications/show_adjudication.asp?adjudication_id=37050&from_index=issues&issue_id=24


What should you do?

Should you receive ANY unsolicited email or postal notices from ANY company regarding your domain registration, please:

  • Cancel any payment you may have made.
  • Tear up the letter and dispose of it (or recycle!).
  • Renew your domain with your existing registrar.

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!

 

 


 

For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.