What I'm Doing

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Domain Scam

I decided today to finally check my Yahoo! email account, delete all the spam, and see if there's any email I'd actually care about (not likely since it's more-or-less a spam-bait account, anyway). As I was skimming through the emails, I came across one dated May 21, 2008 with the subject line, "kristenandmatthew.com". At first glance, I missed the ".com" part, and decided to check it out, because I currently own matthewandkristen.net. I registered that domain for my wife and my wedding website, and I've not done much with it since (it's set to expire in September, and I think I'm just going to let it go). In addition, I had registered kristenandmatthew.net (which has already expired) as a result of miscommunication regarding what was being printed on the invitations.

This email is from a guy, Ken, at some company that "specializes in recovering preferred expiring domains and either selling them to individuals such as yourself or building out our own web presence on those domains.". In the email, Ken states that the domain, kristenandmatthew.com, had recently expired, and his company had acquired it in a domain name auction. Seeing as how I own kristenandmatthew.net, he wanted to sell me the .com version of the domain.

At this point, out of curiosity, I went to whois.net and did a search for the domain. At the moment, no one owns this domain.

Returning to my email list, I found that on the next day, May 22, Ken had sent me another email, reminding me of his company's offer.

Two days later, he sent me an email with the subject, "One Day Sale For kristenandmatthew.com". Up to this point, the emails had not mentioned a price; I guess I was supposed to go to their site and discover their price there. In this email, however, Ken informs me that their previous price for the domain had been $557, but for 24 hours, I could buy it at the discounted price of $300.

Now, remember, I've already discovered that no one owns this domain. I can register it for $10.

To make matters even more humorous, 3 days later (May 27), I received an email from a different company, stating that they had recently acquired kristenandmatthew.com and thought I might be interested it buying it from them for $49.95 (and then, after a year, I can renew it with them for the standard $10, or move it to a registrar of my choice). The email then states that "this is a one time note for the owner of kristenandmatthew.net."

Despite that, I have received a second "one time note" from this second company that says exactly the same thing as the first on July 6, and a third dated August 12 that includes (I guess to sweeten the pot) a note that my purchase will include a year's registration of the domain, full transfer of the domain ownership to myself, and they will even point my new domain to my current website for free (this is listed as being optional)! It also includes a warning that if I don't take this offer, someone else may purchase the domain instead.

I suppose some people might fall for this sort of thing, if they don't know about whois searching (to see who owns a domain name, if anyone). If I thought that there were any humans that might actually read a response to these emails, I'd be tempted to register the domain (at a reputable registration site) and then respond to both of these "companies" with an email saying, "Thank you for your offer; however, I have just recently registered this very domain name with [registrar] for $10." As it is, I'll just blog about it.


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