The ongoing internet fraud never seizes to amaze me. Yesterday I’ve received the following email:
(If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to your President or appropriate person, thanks)
We are CN Network Information Center,which is a registration organization in China. Here we have an important issue to confirm with you. We received a formal application on July 12, 2012. One company called "Lyn commercial co,Ltd" was applying to register "oohlalabeadtique" as Network Brand or trademark ,and the following domain names:
After our initial checking, we found the names were similar to your company's, so we need to check with you whether your company had authorized that company to register these domain names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please inform us within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limited we will unconditionally finish the registration for "Lyn commercial co,Ltd".
Address: 21/F,No.92 YingMen Road,Golden Ox District,ChengDu.China
P Please consider the environment before you print this e-mail.
The email came across awkward and strange, so I’ve goggled it. And what do you know, it turned out to be another form of online fraud - domain fraud.
As I jewelry artist I receive number of fraudulent emails, suppliers offering to sell fake minerals at high cost, scam artists pretending to want to buy all my jewelry, asking that I hand over my inventory to their so called "personal shipping company", and many similar emails like it. However a domain scam, that’s a first. After I did my goggle research I came to realize that this form of scam - domain name and trademark scam that has been around for past few years. In fact a couple of years ago, Michael Lerner blogged about a very similar domain name scam originating from China, whereby owners of domain names would be contacted by a "registrar" indicating that another company was trying to register domain names with Asian TLDs that matched their existing domain name.
How does the domain scam work?
The main objective of the scam as usual is to get money out of you. This is achieved in a very devious way. So called "registrar" contacts you, hoping to create a concern and panic in regards to your domain name, and/or your trademark, warning you that some "other company" (which is a fictional company made up by the fake registrar) is trying to claim your trade mark, or domain. The bogus registrar pretends to be on your side, protecting your interests, and asking if you gave an authorization to the fictional company that they’ve made up, to register your domain variations.
Of course you did not authorize anyone to register your domain variations or your trade mark, so your answer to them will be "No". They will appear to be genuinely concern about your domain and trade mark, and they will suggest you protect yourself, by registering through them your domain variations, or your trademark for a "reasonable fee" of $300-$400. They will ask that you wire the money to them. They won’t accept credit or paypal payment as you could dispute the charges, and get your money back. If you wire the money you will never see your money again, and you won’t register any domain variations or trade mark, since they are bogus registrar company.
If this so called "registrar" company that contacted me - http://www.cnnic-group.org, were a legit company it would be certified by ICANN as a "registrar", and it would be publically listed in ICANN Registrar Directory, and anyone could verify their legitimacy. Obviously http://www.cnnic-group.org doesn’t appear anywhere on the list.
If you ever receive an email similar to the one above, and you are ever unsure of the legitimacy of a registrar, you should contact ICANN through their website, and even forward them the email you’ve received.
As for rest of other emails which you are unsure off, copy and paste the email subject, or few lines from the opening paragraph into goggle and hit search. If the email is a scam, it will pop up instantly within first few search results.