One of my clients recently received an email claiming to be from the auditing department of a domain name registration organization in China. The email claimed to be a notification that someone was trying to register the client’s domain name with various different country suffixes, including the .cn Chinese extension.
This is a scam.
I’ve received this email scam several times myself for various domain names. The insidious thing about this particular scam is that since it’s claiming to be from a Chinese company, all of the poor grammar and broken English (normally a sure-fire indicator of an email scam) makes perfect sense — they’re in China after all, of course their English isn’t perfect.
On top of that the company in this scam is really presenting themselves as a reasonable good guy — their claim is that another company wants to register all these domain names and they ran a routine check and found that it might be an intellectual property or trademark violation. So they just want to check with you to see if it’s okay to give your domain name away, or if you’d like to protect your trademark.
Of course there is probably no company trying to register every available country-specific version of your domain name. The goal is to get you to respond with “Oh no! I don’t want this Chinese company to have by brand name!” at which point they’ll offer to let you register them yourself to protect against this kind of thing — for a reasonable fee of course.
Ultimately if global branding was that important, you’d probably already have www.yourdomain.cn and whatever other country codes you care about. But for most of you (as in this local machine shop) it’s not at all significant even if a Chinese company registered a similar domain in Hong Kong.
So once again, this is a scam. If you get this email, it’s no more true than that Nigerian prince who wanted you to store several hundred million dollars for him.
Here is a copy of the spam email that my client received, but there are of course several variations of it.
(Please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. Thanks.)
We are the auditing department of a professional domain name registration and dispute solution organization in China. On March 3rd, 2011,we received an online registration application for “yourdomain” as their network brand and
as their domain names from one company which called “KAIW Investment SPA”. However, after our audit department checking, we found this is conflict with your company’s domain name and trade name.
According to the registration principle in China, we will audit every application of our customer in order to avoid the conflict of the intellectual property. You are the original trademark owner, so I am sending you this E-mail to check whether you object to their application and need to protect your brand or not. Our time limit for dissent application is 7 workdays, so please contact us timely.
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