A new (to me) scam

by John Quiggin on June 30, 2005

I just got a letter on impressive looking letterhead, from Domain Registry of America, offering to renew my domain name “johnquiggin.info” at fairly exorbitant rates. I don’t actually own this domain: out of a frivolous desire to be a dotcommer, I chose “johnquiggin.com”, rather than the more appropriate “johnquiggin.net” or “johnquiggin.info” when I got my own domain from Dotster.

This looked like an Internet version of the old subscription invoice scam, and sure enough, it was. I was happy to find that one practitioner of this scam has been nailed in Canada

These guys give what looks like a physical address at 189 Queen St., Suite 209, Melbourne, so I’ve written to Consumer Affairs in Victoria, suggesting a visit.

Minor update The Daniel Klemann referred to in the Canadian story mentioned above is, apparently the one behind my solicitation. If any Canadian readers would like to get in touch with the relevant authorities, and point that this guy is still active, despite his commitments, I’d be happy to send along a copy of the notice he sent me. I’ll try myself via email.

{ 12 comments }

1

Ancarett 06.30.05 at 7:57 am

Funny you should mention the Canadian case. I just got a letter from the Domain Registry of Canada the other day asking for $40 to renew my domain. . . .

If it weren’t for the fact that I know my registrar, I could easily be fooled by this scam!

2

Beth Crowley 06.30.05 at 8:01 am

John,
My son got the same type of letter in the mail. He and my daughter wanted their own names on the web sites. I didn’t know how or what I would be buying, so I said no. But Lauren my daughter just received an 82% on an English test and I was so proud I decided to get one just for her. I had to pay for set up fees, monthly fees, email, web mail, and support. I just wanted the one name. I didn’t know why I needed more e-mail I have the e-mail. When it was set up, my daughter was happy, but my son noticed that her name only came way after a bunch of different address names and these things “~”. They also called me up for information like my social security number and maiden names – I refused. The web site was gone before I hung up the phone. Never again!

Beth
http://coasm.blogspot.com/

3

paul 06.30.05 at 8:40 am

The scam letters sent out in the US say somewhere on them in very small type, “This is not an invoice”. I expect that’s enough in the current enforcement climate to keep the senders out of jail.

(“This is not an invoice. We currently have no connection with your domain registration. You current registrar is almost certainly cheaper and more reliable. We do, however, have in our vault a lockbox that some friends from Nigeria tell us contains $14 million.”)

4

Jon 06.30.05 at 8:57 am

Domain Registry of America (DROA) has been doing this scam for awhile now. They keep getting themselfs out of trouble on it because usually on their ‘invoices’ they do say they are not the current registry holder, and many times they will (in small print) tell you who your real registrar is. I work for a very large reputable registrar company and we hear of our clients receiving these letters from DROA all the time. The Client that do accidentaly pay DROA money always get it back upon argument with DROA. ICANN has been notified about this many time.

5

chris 06.30.05 at 9:23 am

6

Eszter 06.30.05 at 10:02 am

I registered my first domain back in ’98 so I’ve been getting them for a while now. (Plus I own multiple domain names and usually end up getting them for all of them.) At first it was very confusing and I can especially see something like this going through the billing dept of a company where some of this may be more automated/put under less scrutiny (not to be naive about how billing depts at companies deal with stuff though). By now I know exactly what they are, but they’re still confusing. Their one helpful function is that they remind me that some names may be expiring soon (then again, my actual registrar usually reminds me as well).

7

Maria 06.30.05 at 1:52 pm

Hmm. Sounds very naughty indeed. I’ve passed this on to a colleague at ICANN.

8

John Quiggin 06.30.05 at 3:55 pm

As Paul and Jon have pointed out, the letter does include the small print “this is not a bill”. I don’t think this is enough to protect them in Australia.

Chris, the poems were great.

9

Joe Gandelman 06.30.05 at 4:15 pm

I have my blog http://www.themoderatevoice.com PLUS my ventriloquism site http://www.familyentertainer.com plus a few other domain names. Domain Direct sends out emails warning people they do NOT EVER renew by snail mail. Yes, it is a scam. There are also companies that insist they can do it for you, etc. by mail. No, DD ONLY does it by sending you an email. You then type in your info (no credit card info) about your domain name and password and then you renew it. Also, you can call them and do it on the phone.

10

Mary 06.30.05 at 5:47 pm

I get these too, from two different sources: the Australian one for my .au domain and the American one for my .org. Apparently they’re both arms of the same Canadian reseller: see audomainnews.

I just enjoy the thought of the international postage they keep paying to hassle me. So much nicer for me than spam :)

11

Keith M Ellis 06.30.05 at 6:58 pm

I’ve long gotten all sorts of sleazy solicitations relating to my domain names. I just ignore them. But this kind of thing is still going on and its widespread.

John, I almost always get “.com” domains because most people assume “.com”. My OCD impulses want everything to be exactly appropriate, but I stifle them in this case. So I don’t think that preferring a “.com” domain means you’re a dotcom-era type of wannabe. It’s just a pragmatic choice.

12

Tim Worstall 07.01.05 at 7:46 am

Scams don’t change all that much do they? International Fax Directories and the like were once all the rage. I remember having to weed the “this is not an invoice” stuff out of accounts payable in the early 80s.

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