How to Spot a Domain Name Scam

Have you received a fishy email from a supposed network consulting and registration firm in China? There is an old scam still making its rounds claiming that a Chinese company is looking to register your business’ domain names, and that their consulting and registration firm is looking out for your company’s best interest by contacting you before the registration is finalized. This is known as the “Asian-Domain-Name-Extortion Scam,” and it uses language similar to this:
Dear Manager,
We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China. On June,20th,2014, We received [insert company’s name] application that they are registering the name “_________” as their Internet Trademark and “”,”” ,””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
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
Registration Department Manager
3002, Nanhai Building 854.Nandan Road
Xuhui District, Shanghai
Email: info @ yg – networks . com

Anhui Office
Office:  +86 0553 4994789
Fax:     +86 0553 4994789
web:  yg – networks . com

While the message may seem legit and not threatening, this is how the scammers try to connect with prospective victims. If you were to reply to the sender, they would try to get you to provide them with data and information they can use to take advantage of you (i.e., financial information or a form of compensation).
How can you identify a real domain notice from a scam?
Well, first of all, it’s very unlikely that any notification about your domain name would come from any company outside of your domain registrar. Domain registrars typically contact businesses with renewal reminders or to verify contact information. If you receive an email regarding your domain, read through it very carefully before clicking on any links that are included within the message.
An email should be considered suspicious if it includes any of the following:
– A legal notice

  • Legal notices will never be delivered through email. The legal system relies on the postal service or courier delivery for official correspondence.

– An exact string of words easily found within a Google search

  • If you are ever in doubt about an email. Copy and paste part of its body into a Google search. If it’s a scam, it will likely come up within multiple articles.

– A sender without a title

  • Always look to make sure the sender of an email has an official job title. Many scammers have titles such as “head office” or will exclude signatures within their emails all together.

Also, unfortunately, if this email was not a scam, a United States Trademark will only provide you protection in the United States. This means that if a company selling goods or services in China and is connected with your trademark, you won’t have much recourse. If the company doesn’t establish a presence in the United States, you would have to prove there has already been commercial use of your trademark as well as the likelihood of confusion with the foreign use of it (i.e., if the company is selling similar goods or services).
If you have received a similar email with different verbiage than the example we included above, we encourage you to post it in our comments section so we can help everyone stay one step ahead of this scam!