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Received Domain Renewal Email to Fax 212-913-9858 SCAM SPAM

Updated on May 28, 2013

WHAT THIS LETTER LOOKS LIKE

If you are like me, you own a domain name and you may have received a letter via email stating "Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web."

As you will see from my images below, this email *appears* to be legitimate at first glance (posh-by-tori.com is my real domain name):

THE DOMAIN SCAM - PART 1: Contact Information

The first "red flag" about this email "notice" is that there is no contact information for the sender. A legitimate company will provide you with a way to reach them. In this email, the only contact information is a fax number, which is 1-212-913-9858.

A 212 area code is traditionally from New York
A 212 area code is traditionally from New York | Source

SCAM PART 2: Fraudulent 212 Area Code Number

Although "212" is traditionally a New York area code, through the use of the internet anyone can purchase a phone number with any area code without needing to reside in the city, state or even country!

Companies like 212AreaCode.com allow for almost instant purchases of "212" area code numbers that are available to the public for as little as $75.00. As you will see from the screenshot below; the 212-number can also be used as a fax line:


Source

SCAM 3: CONFUSING WORDING

As mentioned earlier, the main part of this email, which appears to be designed to absolutely horrify domain name holders is the following quote:

"As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it's time to send in your registration and save.

Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web."


The letter then goes on to say:

"This Notice for: WWW.POSH-BY-TORI.COM will expire on MARCH 09,2013 Act today!"


A quick glance over this letter would likely make you think the following:

1. Your domain is about to expire

2. Without renewing it right away, you will no longer be found on search engines (Google in specific)

and

3. You need to act immediately

HOWEVER, none of the above is true. Let's look further into this "SPAM"....

SCAM 4: THE FINE PRINT YOU ARE MISSING

At the very bottom of the email, you will discover "fine print" that says the following:

"By accepting this offer, you agree not to hold DS liable for any part. Note that THIS IS NOT A BILL. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated unless you accept this offer. The information in this letter contains confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the DS. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above. There is no pre-existing relationship between DS and the domain mentioned above. This notice is not in any part associated with a continuation of services for domain registration. Search engine submission is an optional service that you can use as a part of your website optimization and alone may not increase the traffic to your site. If you do not wish to receive further updates from DS Go to http://jiffytext.com/url/ to unsubscribe. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents for this letter is strictly prohibited. * 100% satisfaction guaranteed, you may request a refund within 30 days."

What the above text is saying, in plain terms, is that this letter has nothing to do with your domain or any services you use. It is nothing more than an advertisement that is attempting to get money out of you by tricking you into believing you need to "renew".

SCAM PART 5: "UNSUBSCRIBE" INFORMATION

As you can see from the "fine print" section, the letter states you can "Unsubscribe" from receiving further emails by clicking the provided link. The link is invalid and brings you to a 404 Error page. However, the main part of the link is for a website called "JiffyText". If you look at JiffyText.com you will see that it is a Chinese website that is nothing more than a single page that attempts to get people to register for a "7 day free trial"

Quote from website as of today, 3-10-2013:

"Within seven days of the twenty-five per cent of new customers into regular customers, while building their own VIP database,

but also within minutes to send a message to their mobile phone for instant promotion."

SCAM 6: DOMAIN NAME SEARCH

A basic domain name search for who owns the site JiffyText comes back with the following information:

The site is owned by "Toby Wong". It appears that Mr. Wong also owns 30 other domain names.

SCAM 7: RETURN EMAIL / SENDER EMAIL

Although the sender of this email has made their name appear as "Domain Services":

A "mouse-over" on the senders email name shows that this email was sent from "domainindo9920@hotmail.com" -

The majority of legitimate companies do not use "hotmail" or other free providers as their email, especially in a situation like this.

(SIDE NOTE: It is perfectly normal for a regular small business to use a free email. For my store we use yahoo and gmail. However, my email communications with customers are not in attempts to sell them products; my email communications are to answer questions about store hours, donations to charity events and other standard "goings-on")


SCAM 8: ONLINE COMPLAINTS, BBB AND MORE

The first day I received this email, I ignored it. But after the 3rd time I began doing research and found more additional "red flags".

Let me first say that as a business owner, just because someone is NOT a member of The BBB (Better Business Bureau) does NOT mean the business is not legit. I have never been a BBB member, as I have found it to not be worth the money it costs for the membership. I am instead a member of my local Chamber of Commerce and I like the community support I get from it much more for the price. SO, PLEASE do not auto-label businesses that are not BBB members are being "bad" before you take the time to research.

However, even businesses that are not BBB members are still monitored by the BBB. In this case, it appears that there has been numerous BBB complaints against this company:

SCAM 9: BBB COMPLAINTS IN FLORIDA

Thankfully, through my research I came across a wonderful website, SueSpammers.Net. This website features a writeup by someone having received a very similar email to mine. The main difference was that their email was sent from domainindo86720@hotmail.com whereas mine was sent from domainindo9920@hotmail.com and our fax numbers are different, despite both being "212 area codes".

When this individual looked up the information for the company, they found the following address:

Domain Services
743 Gantt Ave. Suite G446
Sarasota, FL 34232
FAX: 212-913-9801
FAX: 212-913-9860

They then referenced BBB Complaints and found SIX complaints against this company in the West Florida BBB section:

SCAM 10: FURTHER HARASSMENT BY COMPANY

The business in question refused to cooperate with the BBB and did not respond to any of the 6 complaints. But here is an outline of the complaints (all 6 complaints are basically the same):

"1. Messages look like invoices and suggest that I am a customer with the use of the word RENEWAL


2. There is not Op Out and they do not honor my request to cease sending messages

3. I have faxed and written to them - to no avail - the high pressure, misrepresentation messages continues."

SCAM 11: SIMILAR EMAILS

The email you receive may not look identical to the one I posted. Below you will find photos of numerous different styles of this email. Many contain the same text but slightly different fax numbers:

Other emails like the one I got
Other emails like the one I got | Source

SCAM 12: EVEN MORE FAX NUMBERS

As you will see in other complaints, such as this one filed in January 2013, the text of the complaint is the same, but once again, the culprit is using a different fax number. In this complaint the fax number is listed as 212-257-7059.

In yet another complaint, the fax number is listed as 1-212-257-7059, as well as complaints for fax 1-212-913-9858 (which is the same fax number on my spam email).

The list goes on and on, as this scam continues.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THIS SCAM

Read my next articles about Reporting Internet Spam and other Internet Scams as well as ways you can protect yourself.

But most importantly, in this case, KNOW WHO YOUR DOMAIN PROVIDER IS. You should be able to log into your website and set your domain to "auto-renew" which means you will never have to worry about it expiring on you and you can always simply mark emails like this as "junk" / "spam".


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