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Domain Name Application Scam

Outline
Emails, purporting to be from a domain name registration entity in China, warn that someone is applying to register a series of domain names based on the recipient's brand name or existing domain name.

Domain Name Scam

© Depositphotos.com/Oleksiy Mark



Brief Analysis
The claims in the messages are lies designed to trick website owners into unnecessarily registering a series of domain names at inflated prices. If you receive one of these scam emails do not reply or follow any links that the email may contain.

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Examples
Subject: For your business names

Dear CEO,

We are a leading internet solutions organization in China, and we have something urgent to confirm with you. We formally received an application on May,25,2012. One company called "SW Management Pty Ltd." trying to apply for "hoax-slayer" as Brand Name and following Domain Names through our organization:
[domain removed].cn/.com.cn/.net.cn/.in/.tw/.com.tw/.com.hk/.hk/.vn/.asia

After our initial examination, we found that the Net Brand and Domain Names above are similar to yours. These days we have been dealing with it. Now we hope to get your affirmation. If your company did not authorize the aforesaid company to register these, please contact us as soon as possible.

In addition, we hereby declare that time limit for this issue is 7 workdays. If your company don't respond within the time limit, we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by SW Management Pty Ltd.

Best Regards!
Jala Lu
Senior Consultant


Subject: Someone intended to use your domain names

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward to the right person/ department, as this is urgent, thank you.)

Dear CEO,

We are the department of registration service in China. we have something need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on April 5, 2011, One company which is called "Lajie Trading Co. Ltd" is applying to register [your-website-name] as brand name and domain names as below :
[your-website-name] .asia
[your-website-name] .cn
[your-website-name] .com.cn
[your-website-name] .com.hk
[your-website-name] .com.tw
[your-website-name] .hk
[your-website-name] .in
[your-website-name] .net.cn
[your-website-name] .org.cn
[your-website-name] .tw
After our initial checking, we found the brand name and these domain names being applied are as same as your company’s, so we need to confirm with your company. If the aforesaid company is your business partner or your subsidiary company, please DO NOT reply us, we will approve the application automatically.
If you have no any relationship with this company, please contact us within 7 workdays. If out of the deadline, we will approve the application submitted by "Lajie Trading Co. Ltd" unconditionally.
Best Regards,
Howie Gao
Senior consultant


Subject: Notice of Intellectual Property-Trademark Name

Dear Manager:

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Anhui, China. On March,17th,2011, We received HUNDI Company's application that they are registering the name [your-website-name] as their Internet Trademark and "[your-website-name] .cn","[your-website-name] .com.cn" ,"[your-website-name] .asia" domain names etc., It is China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark, In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third-party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

Kind regards
Angela Zhang

Anhui Office (Head Office)
Registration Department Manager


Detailed Analysis


According to these messages, which purport to be from the website domain name registration authority in China, a third-party has applied to register a number of domain names based on the recipient's existing domain name, trademark or brand name. The emails suggest that this third-party may be attempting to capitalize on the recipient's brand name by attempting to register the domain names and therefore violating his or her intellectual property rights. The messages state that, if the recipient objects to this third-party application he or she should contact the authority in order to stop the application being approved. The messages warn that, if the recipient does not make contact within a limited time frame, the third-party's application will be automatically approved.

However, the claims in the emails are nothing but lies designed to trick website owners into paying inflated prices to register a series of domain names when there is no compelling reason to do so. The messages are designed to panic recipients into registering the domains in the mistaken belief that some third-party is trying to poach their brand or online identity. In reality, the dodgy domain registration companies operating these scams have not received such third-party applications at all. The scammers send out virtually the same emails to thousands of site owners. Often, the only difference in the messages is the domain name that the "third-party" is supposedly attempting to register. As a website owner, I have received hundreds of such messages over several years, often virtually identical except for the domain name that the scammers are targeting. Clearly, the scammers simply use message templates which they tailor to their potential victim by plugging in his or her domain name as necessary.

If you receive one of these scam messages, do not respond to it. Some versions ask you to reply to the message if you wish the third-party application to be stopped. In these versions, an "agent" will subsequently contact you with instructions detailing how to pay registration fees for the supposedly disputed domains. Other versions include a direct link to a dubious domain registration website where you are requested to pay for the domains immediately.

While these messages are certainly a scam, website owners should nevertheless be aware that unscrupulous people often do try to capitalize on a brand's popularity by registering the same or similar names with different top-level domains (TLD's). For example, if your domain is "my-website.com" they may attempt to register "my-website.info" or a great many other such TLD variations. They may also register domains with slight misspellings. To curtail such activities, many high profile entities do register multiple versions of their domains as a means of protecting their brand and online identity.

If a third-party does apply to register a domain close to a name that you have already registered, it is quite unlikely that a registration authority will contact you via email to "check" before approving the application. If you have concerns that your brand name might be at risk by such activities you should find a reputable domain registration service and register any domains that you feel may be potentially snaffled by third-parties.

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Last updated: July 4, 2013
First published: June 6, 2011
By Brett M. Christensen
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