The domain evaluation / certificate scam isn’t new, and it targets domain owners eager to sell their domains.
The way the scam works is simple:
You receive an email that expresses interest in your domain. Most of the time, it also mentions a high value dollar range, to entice you into believing the sender is prepared to pay some serious bucks.
But there is a catch: to get to the next step, you must order an “expert appraisal” and receive a domain certificate for the domain.
Naturally, the certificate will be issued, for a fee, from a web site that is being created for this very purpose: to issue bogus valuations and receive money for them.
Once you fall for this scam, your money is split between the email’s sender and the certificate issuer, and you never hear back from the interested party again.
There is a new twist to this scam making the rounds currently, an we were alerted to it by Mike McConville, senior domain broker at Domain Holdings.
The scammers are targeting premium domains under brokerage.
The new type of emails claim to have been sent by a lawyer on behalf of their customer, thus attempting to add legitimacy and intimidation.
Here’s what the email scam looks like:
I represent an investor who is going to buy [redacted].com for a new online project.
The buyer is a professional investor. Your domain will be used as a part of his online project.
I located your contact information in a domain name whois lookup and understand that you own the domain name.
Are you still interested in selling?
Are you a beginner or an experienced seller?
I help my clients to buy and sell intellectual properties.
If you have more names I can help you to sell them.
Sarah Holzer, Ph. D.
Intellectual Property Specialist
Your buyer is an investor from Belgium.
My commission is paid by the buyer so my services are free for you.
My buyer invests money in web projects. He buys 5-10 domains for each project to get the maximum traffic possible. After that he sells developed web sites and make a good profit.
The buyer will pay you the appraised value. It will be fair since he does not want to pay something over the real market value.
Based on my experience, I think your name is in $30,000 – $50,000 range.
Do you have a certificate of the appraised value?
If you don’t have it’s not a problem. You can order it online.
He needs it from a source he knows and trusts.
I’m also interested in a good estimate of the market price because he pays me % on each sale.
The process is very easy and will take only two minutes of your time:
1. Go to the certificate agency site (see instructions below) and submit your domain for the certification. Please let them know you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation. In the comment field please ask them to guarantee that the appraised value will be higher than the appraisal service fee. In this case you will not risk to pay and get a low appraisal. I suggest you this company because they protect you as the seller from getting a low appraised value. They will send you the payment instruction only if your domain is worth $1,000 or higher. Otherwise your request will be declined and you will not pay them anything. Other companies does not offer this option.
2. If your request will be approved, please pay them the fee and wait for 48 hours. Then send me the results via email and we will start the sale process. As soon as he receives your certificate, he will buy your domain via an escrow service. Any escrow service will be able to pay you via Paypal, Wire, Western Union or any other method you prefer.
He wants to ensure the safe delivery of the funds to you. Furthermore, since this is our first time conducting any business, I believe that using a third-party escrow service can provide a safe, well defined sale process.
The certificate must include only 2 things to be accepted by my buyer:
1. Independent valuation of the market price. Only manual valuation is accepted. No valuations generated by scripts.
2. Trademark infringement 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.
If you are new to certifications and appraisals, I can send you step by step instructions how to order a proper certificate from a source my client knows and trusts.
Since you are new I can help you with step by step instructions how to obtain a certificate. Please go to
Domain Verification Order Form
Enter your domain there and write in the comment field you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation.
It will take only 2 minutes to submit your domains. After they approve your request you will be able to pay.
Simply resend me the certificate via email.
After we receive your certificate we will proceed with the sale. I may help you with the transfer process. I will be with you during the whole sale/transfer process. You can count on my help.
So what is the expert valuation web site with this scam?
In the email sent to us, the domain DomainVerifications.com is part of the scam. It was registered earlier this week.
The scammer also shares bogus credentials and alliances on its web site, a copy of which can be seen here.
Never pay a dollar to have your domains evaluated as part of an offer. It’s a scam.
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