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Domain Appraisal Scam and How it Works

Updated on January 16, 2013
Source

Copyright © 2013 Kejanny. All rights reserved.


While genuinely honest people are “working” to earn income on the internet, there are lazy faceless scammers lurking in the dark space out there to rob the unsuspecting of their hard-earned money.

The domaining industry in one industry where these scammers target and one specific area is domain name appraisal. The scammers know that more and more people are establishing their presence on the internet, for business or personal, and they go to a domain name registrar and buy domain names. Domain valuation is where the scammers set up their scheme to rob you after you buy domain names.

What is a domain appraisal scam, how does it work and how can I avoid it in 2013? If you are asking these questions, you are wise and you’ve come to the right place. Here, I share my experience on domain appraisal scam and how a domain valuation scammer almost made me a victim of his scam.

A domain name appraisal scam is a scam where you are contacted by an individual expressing interest in buying your domain name. The person will then ask you to have your domain name appraised and will recommend to you a certain domain appraisal company or to have the domain name appraised manually before he will buy it. The appraiser may be themselves or another company they work together to scam. After you pay for the service, you will not hear from them again.

Examples of E-mails You Will Receive in a Domain Appraisal Scam

A few days after I auctioned some domain names, I received this e-mail in my inbox:

Hello,
I noticed that you currently sell this domain. I want to buy your domain name.
Please send me your desired price in USD or euros for the domain name in the subject line.
If you have other names for sale please email me your domains with prices.
I'm looking forward to doing business with you.

Regards,

Aaron Bloomfield
Independent Domain Owner & Investor
========================================================
NOTICE - This communication may contain confidential and privileged
information that is for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any
viewing, copying or distribution of, or reliance on this message by
unintended recipients is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
message in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message
and deleting it from your computer.
========================================================

The email address of the sender is:aaron-bloomfield@domain-hosting-shop.com.


I responded indicating and this is the reply I got:

Have you had your domain names evaluated in the past? I mean domain appraisals. Without valuation we cannot be sure in the sale price. It's very important for me in terms of reselling too.

But we must engage a valuation company with REAL manual service. So I will only accept valuations from independent sources I and my partners trust.

To avoid mistakes I asked domain experts about reputable appraisal companies. Please check this blog with suggestions from other sellers and buyers:

http://www.forum-windows-club.com/Archive/792516402.htm

Do you sell domain with a web site or just the name?

Domain without content is ok with me. Web site is not necessary.

If, for example, the valuation comes higher you can adjust your asking price accordingly. It will be fair. I also hope you can give me 12% - 15% discount.

After you send me the valuation via email (usually it takes 1-2 days to obtain it) we'll continue our negotiations.

What is your preferred payment method: Escrow.com, International wire transfer, PayPal.com or something else?

Hope we can come to an agreement fast.

Looking forward to your reply.


The link led to a questionable forum and a thread where Bloomfield and two another people talked about how the two other people were selling domain names and Bloomfield assisted them to get a manual domain name appraisal done and he paid the domain names from the two sellers. The thread was most likely posted by the scammer(s) themselves to fool domainers.

I responded in as follows:

Dear Aaron,

If you really want to buy the domain name, I'm sure you'd already done the appraisal yourself and know the price. If you really want to buy this domain name, go to SEDO or GoDaddy and buy it from there.

Do not scam me. Please, be a gentleman and remove my contact details off your list.

Thank you.


Scam Pickpocket.  Illustration by Mark Matcho
Scam Pickpocket. Illustration by Mark Matcho | Source

If you are buying and selling domain names, beware of the domain appraisal scam. The letters they send out are very structured and similar like the ones above. They will also tell you they are willing to buy your domain name for some high price that they will quote. Do not get get excited if you get such an e-mail. All they are trying to do is get you to appraisal your domain using a non-existent domain appraisal service they will recommend. After you pay for the service, they will disappear with your money. You will never hear from them again.

You can appraise domain names 100% free through established online domain valuers. Avoid being a victim of domain appraisal scam.


Top 5 Best Free Domain Appraisal Sites

If you'd like to know how much is your domain name worth, you can appraise domain name free using domain valuation tools offered by genuine companies online. The appraisals are done instantly for free.

Domaining Forums

Forums are the best place to get more information and up-to-date news on any topic. DNForum.com is the domaining industry's number one forum. For up-to-date news on domaining, Domaining.com is the best. In both of these site, you can appraise your domain names free, too.

Good Luck!

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    • Marc Kranat profile image

      Marc Kranat 3 years ago from Fredericton, New Brunswick

      Hi,

      Here's a new twist on the scam, same people (certifiedappraisal.net), here it's a lawyer asking you to help him scam his client that wants to buy the domain.

      http://marc.kranat.com/security/icann-certified-ap...

    • profile image

      Gabriel 3 years ago

      I must confess that I have fallen in the trap of these scamers. I was new to the domain selling business, and have some juicy ones, so I checked very few online. My fault.

      Micheal Schwartzman from these bogus Switzerland, Basel, am krayenrain 5, Phone: 0041763987739 http://www.asp-web-hosting.biz

      He very professionally and politely described to me how to make these appraisals in order to buy my domains.

      Good news, and I hope this can help any one that falls in the same trap, is that I opened disputes for the Paypal payments I made to http://certifiedappraisal.net, and the seller quickly returned the full amount I paid.

      I have learnt some time ago that paying thru Paypal instead of directly using a credit card is much better (from the buyer point of view) because of the drastic measures Paypal takes against a seller that is blamed for not honoring the business. I've been accidentally one time in the other side (as paypal seller, long story), and for a single complain they shut my account for weeks.

      I am programming computers since 1982, so I am very ashamed of being caught this time. Anyone can fall. Don't trust anyone and Google it as much as you can.

      From my side, I will try to stop their business. So BEWARE of the following sites and persons. They probably are the same person, or the same team.

      - Micheal Schwartzman, from Switzerland, website http://www.asp-web-hosting.biz, which redirect to http://www.vpspace.com/

      - http://www.vpspace.com/

      - Shareit.com, who accepts payments and process their scams

      - http://certifiedappraisal.net, who is the core of the scam. This is a totally bogus company. A Sandra Miller always takes care of the email replies.

      - digitalRiver is another company probably part of the scamming team (or allowing the scam team to act)

      - http://market.icaan.info/sell.htm the website that makes fake appraisals

    • profile image

      Sreejesh 4 years ago

      Thanks Kejanny.

      It was really helpful. I got an email today after listing my domain in sedo. If I didn't read your post, I should have lost my money. Thank Gid. I got the same letter you had. Same forum thread , ICAAN Appraisal service, more domain less price like that. And I replied with this post URL.

      Thanks again Kejanny. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

    • Kejanny profile image
      Author

      Kejanny 4 years ago from Port Moresby

      Thanks Monis Mas. I shared my story to help others avoid this scam.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Thank you for the useful tips, based on a real story, that happened first-hand. Voted useful!