An imposter pretended to be another domain broker. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim.
On Christmas Eve I published a podcast with Bill Sweetman of Name Ninja. Bill told the story of how someone pretending to be domain name broker Tracy Fogarty of eNaming tried to dupe him out of $10,000. Bill didn’t bite.
Since publishing that podcast, I have learned that this imposter reached out to at least three people total. The scammer pitched a handful of domain names with a lower case L replacing the upper case I at the beginning of the word. A reverse Whois report at DomainIQ shows that these pointed to the nameserver doneritehosting.net. The names include lncorporate.com, lnnovate.com, lnsurers.com, lnsuring.com and lnvested.com.
All three of the people I’m aware of being contacted are sophisticated domain experts and wouldn’t fall for a scam like this.
Here’s a summary of some of the suggestions Bill made on the podcast (with some of my additional tips) to avoid becoming a victim of a scam like this.
- Double check the domain name to make sure it’s not faked (or an internationalized domain name). Copy and paste the domain into a plain text word editor.
- Check the email address that sent the domain. Does it match what you’d expect? Try emailing the person at their normal email address rather than replying to the email. In the imposter case, the email address was @fakedomain.com, which is unusual. Sweetman noted, “The main brokers representing domains for sale rarely, rarely will use that domain name for their email address.”
- Think if the offer is it too good to be true.
- Check the signature file on the email. Does it have a phone number or other contact method? “Typically, brokers make themselves available to be reached, especially by phone,” Sweetman said.
- Is the seller in a real hurry to get the deal done? While there might be a legitimate reason, be cautious if someone makes you move fast.
- Use an escrow service and be wary if the other party doesn’t want to. “That’s why using an escrow service is so important because it protects all the parties,” Sweetman said. “It protects the buyer, it protects the seller. It to some degree protects the domain.”
- Check the domain owner listed in a purchase agreement and make sure it matches who you think owns the domain. Do a Whois lookup if possible.
- Check the domain history including Whois history for the ownership history.