Alert: Chinese Domain Name Scam
Every domain owner should be cautious when it comes to dealing with unknown parties initiating contact concerned with protecting your domain name and/or trade name. In most cases it is a scam. Having now received more than a few emails from our hosting customers on the topic of Chinese and/or Asian domain registration emails, I figured a quick article addressing the topic would be appropriate.
The issue in question regards emails that are sent to the addresses publicly listed for a given domain name from alleged Chinese domain name registration assistance services. These emails seem to come from a variety of sources but generally seem to take the same form as the examples below (note that we have replaced the domain names in question with yourdomain.com and left off the Chinese registrar contact info):
We are the department of Asian Domain registration service in china. we have something need to confirm with you. we formally received an application on December 6, 2010. one company which called " IP Licensing, LLC." are applying to register "yourdomain" as Brand name and the following Domain Names:
After our initial examination, we found that the Domain Names applied for registration are as same as your company's name and trademark. these days we are dealing with it, hope to get the affirmation from your company. if your company has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these, please contact us as soon as possible. In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit is 7 workdays. if your company files no reply within the time limit, we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by "IP Licensing, LLC.".
We are Hong Kong NewName Net Service Limited, an Service organization of Internet in China. On October 12, 2010, we formally received an application from Shanghai MingDu Technology Co., Ltd. they applied to register the internet brand (yourdomain) and some in China and Asia's domain name.
During our preliminary investigation, we found that these domain names' brand is fully identical with your trademark. Therefore, we need to confirm with you, whether you consigned Shanghai MingDu Technology Co., Ltd. to register these domain names with us or not? Or, is Shanghai MingDu Technology Co., Ltd. your business partner or distributor? If you have no relationship with this company, we assume that they have other purposes to obtain these domain names.
Currently, we have already suspended this company's application temporarily due to the seriousness of this isuue. In order to avoid the vicious domain name grabbing, please let the relevant person make a confirmation with me via email as soon as possible. Thank you for your support to our work!
Registration Department Manager
Hong Kong NewName Net Service Limited
We are Shanghai Chooke Network Information Technology Co.,Ltd,which is the domain name register center in China.I have something need to confirm with you.
We have received an application formally.one company named "Wanda (China) Investment Co.,Ltd" applies for the domain names(www.yourdomain.cn www.yourdomain.asia etc.),and the Internet keyword(yourdomain) on the internet November 13,2010.We need to know the opinion of your company because the domain names and keyword may relate to the copyright of brand name on internet. we would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.
Shanghai Chooke Network Information Technology Co., Ltd
A Common Theme
Note that in addition to the broken English and poor sentence structure, each example carries a sense of urgency mentioning "as soon as possible" or deadlines. Translation: "Please hurry up before you have a chance to think this through and realize what is going on."
Most letters try to give the impression they are trying to be helpful while others outright scold you. I have personally seen a reply that came back from a customer who questioned them with a return email and was told "And you will be responsible for the loss caused by the matter yourself." This response hardly seems professional or courteous. (Didn't anyone teach them you can't begin a sentence with "and"?)
Obviously by now it should be apparent that these are all a scam aimed at frightening you out of money.
Of course the reason that some domain owners may fall prey to such a scam is that in the past there was a great deal of so called "domain squatting" (also referred to as cybersquatting) where a squatter that would buy up domain names of well known trade names and then attempt to request unreasonable amounts of money from the companies who they had targeted. This was a big problem for awhile and there are probably many who remember the hassles some well known companies endured, including a number of court cases. For many, that may be as much as you remember, and if that is so, it would be understandable if these types of messages struck some fear into you.
Protections from Domain Squatting
Today, however, there are consequences for squatters. In the United States there is the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Likewise U.S. domain registrars started being more careful about handling such issues, and provide a means for name dispute resolution. Internationally, the U.N. also has a means of dealing with trade name arbitration through its World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agency.
As for China...
An interesting sidebar about Chinese domain name registration is that the Chinese government recently imposed some rather intrusive regulations with regard to domain registration that require domain name applicants to provide extensive personal data, including photographs of themselves. The regulations were considered so extreme that GoDaddy.com ceased performing registrations in China and the decision to do so was covered in the Washington Post in 2010.
The Moral of the Story?
If it sounds like a high pressure sales pitch, it probably is! Don't fall for this scam. If you receive a message that pertains to your domain that your not sure about, contact your hosting company.