First off, they harvest email addresses from WHOIS records or scrape them directly from the website associated with the targeted domain names in question.
Then they’ll fire off a bogus email claiming that another company has applied for your domain names in Asia with various country-code specific top-level domain names (“.asia”, “.cn”, “.hk”, “.in”, etc.).
To create a sense of urgency that will hopefully prevent you from looking before you leap on the offer, you’re given a seven-day window to reply and stake your claim over the domains before they’re handed over to whatever fictitious company named in the spam message.
Here’s a copy of the spam message that we recently got:
From: Avery (email@example.com)
Subject: Regarding “hyphenet” Dispute
(If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to your President or appropriate person, thanks)
We are the department of Asian Domain registration service in china, have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on April 10, 2012. One company which self-styled "Cokent Investment, Inc" were applying to register "hyphenet" as Network Brand and following domain names:
After our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company's, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limit we will unconditionally finish the registration for "Cokent Investment, Inc".
Tel: +862885915586 || Fax: +862885912116 Address:8/F XiYu building No,52 JinDun Road,QingYang District,Chengdu City,China.
P Please consider the environment before you print this e-mail.
Despite what this spam message claims, it’s unlikely that anyone actually applied for the domains in question. You're merely being fed the same sales pitch that has been used in this scam for years. (Google "chinese domain name scam" to see what I mean.)
In the event that you’re actually interested in snatching up the domains to protect your brand, it’s recommended that you locate a reputable registrar to purchase the domains. Don’t feed the spammers by replying to their emails or registering domains through them.
If you receive this message, or one similar to it because the verbiage and list of domains may vary, then it’s best that you delete it immediately.
Have you ever received an email like the one shown above? Feel free to share your experience!
Photo Credit: chrisdlugosz