There is a new domain name appraisal scam out and it is better than the last one I saw. It is a combined domain valuation and a “trademark infringement varification ” scam.
The scammer first emails the domain name owner asking if the domain is available for sale impersonating someone working at HostGator. They use a fake HostGator email address “email@example.com” from a domain they just registered 2 months ago: hostgator-support.info. The subject says “Offer to purchase ***********.com” but of course there is no offer in the email.
You can easily tell that this is not a HostGator domain name as the domain name is behind whois privacy (when in fact HostGator.com is not) and the .com domain (hostgator-support.com) is free to register (scammer chose to register a cheap .info domain). If it was HostGator they would have used HostGator.com to contact you. The domain hostgator-support.info redirects to hostgatoruk.com that does not resolve. hostgatoruk.com is probably registered by the same scammer and has no nameservers, thus inactive.
The scammer has registered the domain name hostgator-support.info at GoDaddy and is using GoDaddy hosting from what I see from the nameservers and the IP address of the email message. 18.104.22.168 is a GoDaddy IP. I expect GoDaddy to suspend the hosting services ASAP.
This is the first email I got from the scammer:
I represent an investor from Canada who wants to buy ********.com for a brand new web project.
The buyer is a professional investor from Toronto.
Investing in web names is a new direction for him.
I located your contact information in a domain name whois lookup and understand that you own the domain name.
Are you still interested in selling?
I work for a hosting company based in UK.
I help our clients to buy and sell intellectual properties.
If you have more names I can help you to sell them.
I then asked what the offer is only to receive this email soon after:
Our commission is 5% only. You will pay it after receiving the funds from the buyer. In order to earn a better commission I will do my best to sell your domain at the highest price possible.
My buyer invests money in online projects. He buys 10-12 domains for each project to get the maximum traffic possible.
The buyer will pay you the appraised value. He needs an independent expertise because you and me are interested in a high sale price and my buyer does not want to overpay. He also needs it for accounting and tax purposes.
Based on my experience, I think your name is in $15,000 – $20,000 range.
Do you have a certificate of the appraised value from an independent authority (not your broker or auction site)?
If you don’t have it’s not a problem. You can order it online. I will suggest the best source when we can get a good valuation.
The certificate will increase the value of your domain. It’s a must do if you wish to sell your domain to a professional investor with a good budget.
The certificate must include only 2 things to be accepted by my buyer:
1. Independent valuation of the market price. Only manual valuation is accepted. No valuations generated by scripts.
2. Trademark infringement verification. It proves your domain has no trademark problems. He would like this verification to be included in the appraisal report. It’s not a problem because some companies include the TM verification for free.
You can read about the recommended certification agency at Google Answers: http://archive.answers-google.org/answers/threadview/id/6148027.html (?Domain Broker? is my nickname there).
The process is very easy and will take only two minutes of your time:
1. Go to the certificate agency site and submit your domain for the certification. Please let them know you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation. In the comment field please ask them to guarantee that the appraised value will be higher than the appraisal service fee. In this case you will not risk to pay and get a low appraisal. I suggest you this company because they protect you as the seller from getting a low appraised value. They will send you the payment instruction only if your domain is worth $1,000 or higher. Otherwise your request will be declined and you will not pay them anything. Other companies does not offer this option.
2. If your request will be approved, please pay them the fee and wait for 24 hours. Then send me the results via email and we will start the sale process. As soon as he receives your certificate, he will buy your domain via an escrow service. Any escrow service will be able to pay you via Paypal, Wire, Western Union or any other method you prefer.
He wants to ensure the safe delivery of the funds to you. Furthermore, since this is our first time conducting any business, I believe that using a third-party escrow service can provide a safe, well defined sale process.
If you are new to certifications or domain sales, I can send you step by step instructions. I will also help you during the whole sale process. You will be able to contact me at any time.
In short the scammer promises to sell your domain name for a 5% commission and in the $15,000 – $20,000 IF you obtain a certificate. He says that the buyer needs it so he will not overpay and for accounting and tax purposes. (nice twist)
Then the scammer redirects you to a Google Answers question that he has created using several aliases. He then promotes his own “certification” website at premiumdomainsale.net. Certification for a single domain is worth $189. Website claims that their partners are Escrow.com and DomainTools.com that is course once again a lie.
The scammer will never buy your domain name. They are just looking to sell you a worthless certificate.