“Secure your domain name” scams: been there, done that

The main thing that have prompted me to buy all WebGrrrl domains under the major TLDs is because of this very reason.

My first encounter with the domain name scam is earlier this year. I received an e-mail from some Andy guy claiming to be working with Hong Kong Network Service Company Ltd (which is actually a real and valid company from what I’ve researched).  The e-mail read something like this:

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are Hong Kong Network Service Company Limited which is the domain name register center in Asia. We received a formal application from a company who is applying to register “webgrrrl” as their domain name and Internet keyword on <date removed>. Since after our investigation we found that this word has been in use by your company, and this may involve your company name or trade mark, so we inform you in no time.

If you consider these domain names and internet keyword are important to you and it is necessary to protect them by registering them first, contact us soon. Thanks for your co-operation and support.

My first thought when reading it was, ooooohhhh, I’m famous! I’m there! People want me! People love me! WebGrrrl’s cool! I’m cool! … and other such thoughts that would make your head explode with pride.

I should have deleted the e-mail right away, but it didn’t occur to me at first that it was all bull. So I replied the fella back, saying “yeah, WebGrrrl’s all mine” or something to that effect. Around the same time, I gave way to my paranoia and bought webgrrrl.org, while webgrrrl.com was still owned by someone else (who, by the way, offered to sell it to me about 2 years ago for the cheap price of US$100++). ONLY after I bought the .org did I suspect that the e-mail was a scam. I decided to trash it.

A couple of days later, I got a reply from him stating that since I didn’t follow up on him, he’ll continue with registration of the .asia — and other dots to that effect — on behalf of his client. Oh really?

Since that day, I’ve been eyeing on the .com version, patiently and quietly waiting through the extra 3-month holding period even when it was expired way back in March.

Then, a week before the .com domain was available, I began receiving more domain name spams. One was from InTrust Names, with the following e-mail:

Domain Sale Notice:

webgrrrl.com is coming availabe for sale in a few days.

Since you own the domain webgrrrl.net, we thought you’d be interested in webgrrrl.com.

If you do have interest in acquiring webgrrrl.com, please fill up priority notice form availble here: <some .us url>

the domain is available for purchase.

Another e-mail followed suit a couple of days later from Zip Domains:

Our company specializes in acquiring expired domain names to help individuals and businesses protect their brand online.

The domain name WEBGRRRL.COM expired recently and we were able to secure it.

We noticed that you own WEBGRRRL.NET and felt that you may be interested in acquiring the .COM version of your existing domain name.

It is available for a one-time fee of only $49.00 USD.

To purchase or learn more, please visit <their url>/buy.php?domain=webgrrrl.com

Do you know how these companies scam you? They’ll ask you to fill in their forms, including payment options and so forth. Once the domain is available, they’ll buy the domain el cheapo, then charges you at least 50% more than the actual price, and lastly reassign the ownership of that domain to you.

Why would you want to pay that much for something you can do by yourself and cheaply?

My months of obsession with WHOIS came to an end yesterday, when the domain was available for sale around 10.00am GMT+8. I immediately grabbed it through my GoDaddy account and coupon, and parted with US$7.15 to be the proud owner of that coveted .com.

The moral of the story: patience pays.

I love happy endings, don’t you?

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