Most domain name investors are familiar with the domain name appraisal scam. You get an e-mail from someone interested in buying your domain. When you agree to a price, they ask you to get an appraisal from a particular company so they can be sure of the value. The “buyer” is actually associated with the appraisal company and he is just trying to get you to buy an appraisal. See Anatomy of a domain name appraisal scam for details if you are unfamiliar with this scam.
It seems that domain name owners have caught on to the domain name appraisal scam, so the scammers are trying a new approach. They follow a similar approach to the appraisal scam, but instead ask you to get an independent trademark verification on the domain.
It follows the same pattern as the appraisal scam. The “buyer” claims to have researched the best trademark verification companies and suggests one that has a “reasonable price and comes highly recommended”.
Here’s an example of an email from the buyer:
200 euro. Accepted. Thank you for giving me your quote. I think we should use escrow.com. They provide secure transactions. It’ll be safe for both of us.
There is another important issue for me. Some of my friends lost money after buying stolen names. Others had problems with trademarks. So I must be sure you are the real owner and your domain name has no trademark conflicts.
This is a serious problem for the whole domain industry. You can read about the problem at
More information about trademark conflicts can be found at
I hope now you understand why I need to verify this information before we go further.
Can you recommend an online service that can verify trademark problems and the ownership?
After reassuring the buyer that there’s no need for a trademark search, you get the following email:
I made my online research and found two reliable services we could use to verify your domain name.
First service URL http://www.legalzoom.com
But their service “WorldScan U.S. and International Search $499.00” is very expensive for us.
I found a cheaper service – http://www.softforces.com/checkdomain.htm
These guys were recommended as Internet security professionals. Looks like this service is unique because I’ve not found anything similar in the Internet. They will verify your domain through the stolen names database and will run other tests. I’m not a lawyer and need professional opinion on the trademark issue. After we check your domain name we’ll proceed with www.escrow.com or other similar service.
This “check domain” service allows to split the fees 50% / 50% between buyer and seller. I thinks it’s fair.
They will verify your domain through the stolen names database and will run other tests. I’m not a lawyer and need professional opinion on the trademark issue.
I’ve already ordered my part and paid $49 fee. I specified your email address so you must receive a confirmation from them shortly. You should submit your information and they will check your domain name.
They will email us the results within 1-2 business days.
There are a couple things that stand out here that should tip your hat:
1. Someone wants to spend $100 to verify a 200 euro domain? That’s like paying $100,000 for an appraisal of a $250,000 house!
2. No buyer would go ahead and pay $49 without you agreeing to already pay the other half. I have to hand it to the scammers, though. This “I’ll pay half” thing is new and creative.
There will be other variations of this scam. I’m sure it works well because a number of domain name investors are excited to get offers on their domains. Always be suspicious, and try to work your sales through a reputable channel like Afternic or Sedo.