Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Domain Name Appraisal Scam Game

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DomainReport.ca

Ahhhh, the domain appraisal scam game is alive and well.

Just over ten years ago I got my first domain appraisal scam email.  The person seemed very interested in my domain, suggested a high price range and willingness to use escrow.com, but first needed a domain appraisal.  The person suggested two sites, GreatDomains.com and another (cheaper) one I don't remember.  Ofcourse, the scam was to get me to use their cheaper site, but I knew GreatDomains.com and decided to go for them, plus they included a free t-shirt and certificate with the appraisal.  I wish I still had the t-shirt.  The appraisal came back at a range of $25,000 to $40,000.  I emailed it to the person and ofcourse never heard back.  Now I can smell these appraisal scams a mile away, but yes, I fell for it the first time.

Fast forward over ten years, and the game is still pretty much the same.  I haven't gotten one of these emails in years, and today I got two.  One was for a .net and the other a .ca.  The sender for each uses a different name, but my bet is that the source is the same.

For fun, I've posted the email exchange below for the .net domain.  The first email below is the most recent one, the middle one was my reply, and the lowest one was their initial email.

For fun, I'm going to string them along with dumb responses and clueless statements just to use up their 'valuable' time.  You'd think if they put all this scamming effort into a legitimate business endeavour they could do just as well and not create the bad karma.

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From: "robert-janowitz@internet-domain-investing.com"
To: 
Sent: Friday, March 30

I'm thinking about  15,000 - 16,000 USD for your domain. What do you think
about this price range? I have 180,000 budget for 30-40 names.

But I need a professional valuation (domain appraisal) from you first.
Without a professional appraisal we both cannot be 100% sure in the final sale price. It will minimize my investing risks.

Of course, we must engage an independent valuation company I know and trust. I don't trust automated services from companies I've never heard about.

I also need an appraisal service which verifies a possible trademark infringement. It's important for me to know that you domain has no problems with trademarks. You should not worry about it. You don't need to pay a fee for this trademark verification service. Some good appraisers include this option (trademark infringement verification) as a free bonus to the appraisal service.

To avoid mistakes I asked domain experts about reputable appraisal services with the trademark verification option. Please check this blog with suggestions from other sellers and buyers:
http://www.forum-windows-club.com/Archive/027819364.htm

If, for example, the valuation comes higher you can adjust your asking price accordingly.  It will be fair.

After you send me the professional valuation via email (usually it takes 1-2days to obtain it) we'll continue our negotiations.

What is your preferred payment method:  Escrow.com, International wire transfer, PayPal.com or something else?

Hope we can come to an agreement fast.

Looking forward to your reply. 

----- Reply Message -----
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 12:51 AM
Subject: Re:-------------.net

Feel free to make an offer.


--------Original Message-----
From: "robert-janowitz@internet-domain-investing.com"
To:
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 1:12 PM
Subject: re: ---------------.net

Hello,

I noticed that you currently sell the domain in the subject line (correct?).

We are interested in acquiring this domain. Please respond with a desired price in the subject (in USD, Euros or UK pounds).

If you have other names for sale please email me your domain list with prices.

Regards,

Robert Janowitz
President
Web Domain Hosting Inc.

19 comments:

  1. what is the scam?
    i got one of these emails today as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They want to get a domainer excited that they'll get a big sale, but first want you to go and buy a domain appraisal from their link. You pay for the appraisal, send it to them, and never hear back. They are really someone from the appraisal company posing as a domain buyer.

      Delete
  2. I hate those appraisal scammers, had a few myself.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here was their next reply:

    -----------
    I see, but it's a standard practice to show a professional valuation to buyers. Nobody will do business without it. I'm a businessman and have no intention of changing rules which help both parties to avoid additional risks.
    -----------

    And I replied:

    I accept your offer of $15,000. Should we use escrow.com?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and then what happened?

      Delete
  4. Waiting to hear back, I'll keep updating as it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Don't waste your time even responding.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i am a different anonymous, and I want to know what happens when you hear back. Please

    ReplyDelete
  7. I got the same one....I just tell them to fuck off.....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ok, here are some more exchanges:

    them:
    escrow.com is ok but I need tha appraisal from a source I trust. Along with the trademark verification.

    me:
    Could you look into it and get back to me with the appraisal and trademark check?
    I don't think there is a trademark.

    them:
    Only you as the owner can order the service. I tried to order but they didn't allow it for non-owners.
    As a seller, you can use a valuation certificate to sell names to other buyers. If you decide not to sell what will I do with the appraisal? I cannot do the same because I don't keep control over your domain. So you should order the appraisal yourself.

    me:
    Just tell them you are the owner.
    I will take the appraisal cost off the domain price. I will agree to sell for the appraisal.

    them:
    I'm not going to cheat. They can verify via WHO IS.
    After 2-3 months with no sales you will regret about this missed
    opportunity. It's very difficult to find a good domain buyer. You will see it soon. How many real bids have you got this week? Even if you are able to find a buyer you won't be able to sell for a good price without the valuation. Why waste your time and refuse good offers?

    me:
    I have sold many domain without appraisal.
    I will accepting your first offer then.

    them:
    Feel free to contact me when you change your position.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have recieved on today aswell

    ReplyDelete
  10. They must have an appraisal scam campaign going on. Hopefully this post shows up in Google if people search their name or email.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OMG haha I got one from the very same guy two days ago. I am also stringing him along!! How can we scam these scammers??

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just to add to a post I made just now. These replies are cut and pastes. I have the exact same emails here in my inbox. The last one where he says:

    Only you as the owner can order the service. I tried to order but they didn't allow it for....etc etc was after I called him a Dick. All his domains have been registered this year.

    Is there anyway we can report these people or scam them back?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I posted this on my blog to help make newer domainers aware of the appraisal scam. Don't think there is much you can do without spending a ton of time tracking them down. Nothing wrong with having a little fun with them though :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. And a big thanks for doing so. If you take a section of this standard email and put it into a search engine, all types of things come up which is how I found you. Unfortunately I don't think there is anywhere we can report them and even if we do, they will just start again.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Guter Beitrag,

    jede Antwort darauf wäre pure Zeitverschwendung,

    mfg

    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much , i think all domainers need to know this and we need to be prepared for such further scams

    ReplyDelete
  17. Domainers have to cope with so many threats: Appraisla Scams, Domain Hijacking etc.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you!