Scammers take advantage of new contact email system.
There’s a new wrinkle in the domain name appraisal scam that is sure to dupe some unsuspecting people.
The domain appraisal scam tries to trick domain name owners into paying for an appraisal for their domain name in order to complete a sale. It starts with a friendly email inquiring if a domain is available for sale, usually accompanied by a rather generous offer. When the domain owner agrees to sell, the scammer mandates that the seller purchase a domain appraisal from a service that the scammer runs. The “buyer” goes silent after the person pays for the appraisal.
GoDaddy, the largest domain name registrar, has changed how it allows people to contact domain name owners. Instead of providing a forwarding email address, GoDaddy now requires people to fill out a form. The form lets someone pass along their email address and a canned message about why they want to contact the owner.
A scammer is trying to take advantage of these emails.
Here’s what an email sent through the form looks like:
The example above is one I created by sending an inquiry to myself. The message is crystal clear that the message could be from a scammer.
One scammer is trying to take advantage of these new emails. The person is either a) filling out the form on GoDaddy’s website, which sends a message to the domain owner, or b) sending emails that look like GoDaddy’s template using a spoofed email address. I believe it’s the second, but I’m still researching it and will update this story.
Once the domain owner responds, the scammer then suggests that GoDaddy has verified the communication and it’s a “certified offer” from GoDaddy. This adds credibility to the offer. Here’s the full email: (Note: The “buyer” is pretending to be with the domain name registrar Galcomm. The scammers usually pretend to be part of an ICANN-accredited registrar.)
Just passed the GoDaddy’s verification so we can communicate direct. It’s a Godaddy’s certified offer and you will be protected during the transaction.
My name is Elisa Pressler. I work as a broker of International clients in a hosting company – Galcomm Co. from Israel. I will help you to finish the sale.
I am reaching out to you on behalf of a buyer from Tel Aviv. Your buyer is a company from Israel. Your domain will be used to generate traffic to their new mutli-million dollar web project so they offer a good price. Commission of our company is 6%. It’s paid when you get the money.
They will pay you via the Escrow.com or Swiss Escrow service. You can be paid via wire, Paypal, check or any other method you prefer.
The buyer offers $60,000 usd.
Do you have a certificate? It’s required by their bank.
The final sale price will depend on the certificate ($60,000 minimum – if it comes higher they will pay more).
If you don’t have the certificate it’s not a problem. You can order it online.
Please note he cannot accept it from any agency. He needs a manual service. It also must be a third party independent agency (not your broker our auction site) and must be accepted by his bank.
The certification includes the following:
1. Independent valuation of the market price. It will show your domain name is not overpriced. On the other hand if the valuation comes higher, he will increase the price accordingly. In the domain name industry, there are many appraisal tools that people use to estimate the value of a domain name. My client does not want to risk and doesn’t accept services that use scripts. If you are unsure about some service feel free to ask me.
2. TM and law compliance verification. It proves your domain has no trademark problems. He would like this verification to be included in the appraisal report. It’s not a problem because some companies include the TM verification for free.
3. Copy in Hebrew.
The process is very easy:
1. Go to the certificate agency site and order a certificate. Just submit your domains and let them know you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation.
If your domain is worth at least $10000, they will send you the payment instructions. If it’s not possible, they won’t send you the instructions. This way you will not lose anything. It’s very convenient and gives you the full protection. Other services charge you upfront even if your domain is not worth spending the appraisal fee, so I don’t recommend them.
2. Send the certificate to me and we will start the sale process. As soon as the buyer receives your certificate they will buy your domain.
If you are new to the certification process, I can help you with the step by step instructions.
To read the review you must have Telegram Messenger installed on your smartphone. To communicate with me online please use Telegram messenger. Here is the invitation link to our Domain Sale Group: https://t.me/godaddysales
Add me (@ElisaAttorney) to your contacts and we will be able to chat in Telegram. If you don’t have Telegram you may install it on your smartphone from Google Play or AppStore.
One of my sellers already sold to this buyer from Tel Aviv. You may read his review at https://t.me/godaddysales/1754 Feel free to contact him.
Please respond ASAP. No risk for you to proceed since this is a certified by GoDaddy domain offer with full proof of funds. If you send the certificate the buyer will have to pay you the same day.
Aba Hillel Silver St 99
In at least one case, the scammer sent another email explaining GoDaddy’s (fake) role in the transaction:
Thank you for confirming you have received our email. We’re required by ICANN regulations to forward these types of requests to you. However this is our obligation to verify the legitimacy of such requests.
To protect you we have verified this contact and may confirm the legitimacy of the request to purchase your domain. The buyer has provided the proof of funds ($60000) so now you can communicate with the buyer safely.
To respond safely to the domain buyer, simply reply to this email and he will receive your response on his email account. Then you will be able to communicate direct without GoDaddy.
The second email appears to spoof GoDaddy’s email address firstname.lastname@example.org. I have reason to believe the initial emails are also spoofed and not actually sent through GoDaddy’s system.