I was recently the near victim of a Domain Registration Scam, simply because I didn't give it enough thought and wasn't paying enough attention to the logic of it all.
About five months ago I received a series of E-mails as well as a letter in the mail, informing me that my domain was going to expire at the end of January. I didn't think much of it and made the mistake of assuming that perhaps my domain host, NIC Direct, was bought out by another company. I kept the letter and as of last week, sent them a payment of $40 dollars. The website looked very legitimate and the letter as well. I received a message via E-mail with the following;
To Matthew Allair,
Thank you for registering/renewing the following domains with the Domain Registry of America, America's fastest growing Domain Registrar. We take pride in offering you superior customer service and competitive pricing.
The order number for x-fileslexicon.com is *******.
Your check #**** for $40.00 has been received.
-Domain Registry of America
Please have your Order Number ready when calling.
1/13/2006 2:58:40 PM
I then received this confirmation letter, at which point, I started to worry and grow suspicious of the details as I read the legal disclaimers. Attention: Matthew Allair,
Re: Transfer of x-fileslexicon.com
BRANDON GRAY INTERNET SERVICES INC. dba Namejuice.com has received a request from Domain Registry of America on 1/13/2006 2:56:53 PM for us to become the new registrar of record.
You have received this message because you are listed as the Registered Name Holder or Administrative contact for this domain name in the WHOIS database.
Please read the following important information about transferring your domain name:
1) You must agree to enter into a new Registration Agreement with us. You can review the full terms and conditions of the Agreement at http://namejuice.com/regagree.asp
2) Once you have entered into the Agreement, the transfer will take place within five (5) calendar days unless the current registrar of record denies the request.
3) Once a transfer takes place, you will not be able to transfer to another registrar for 60 days, apart from a transfer back to the original registrar,in cases where both registrars so agree or where a decision in the dispute resolution process so directs.
If you WISH TO PROCEED with the transfer, you must respond to this message via one of the following methods (note if you do not respond by Saturday, January 21, 2006, x-fileslexicon.com will not be transferred to us.).
Please go to our website, https://namejuice.com/agree.asp?e=1&o=1340083&p=yqpd to confirm.
Please email us with the following message:
'I confirm that I have read the Domain Name Transfer - Request for Confirmation Message.
I confirm that I wish to proceed with the transfer of x-fileslexicon.com from INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. to BRANDON GRAY INTERNET SERVICES INC. dba Namejuice.com .'
Please print out a copy of this message and send a signed copy to :
(mail to):PO Box 4577 Markham, Ontario L3R 5M7
If you DO NOT WANT the transfer to proceed, then don't respond to this message.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact us at following information.
or please contact your reseller Domain Registry of America
What seemed especially odd was the unexpectedly high charge stated in their disclaimer regarding re-instatement fees, they demanded $200 to re-instate if there was a lapse in the registration. In addition, why were there so many contact addresses that seemed to vary so much? To quote the legalities, exactly. 3. Fees:
As consideration for the domain name registration services and/or other services provided by NameJuice to you, you agree to pay NameJuice, prior to the effectiveness of the desired domain name registration, the applicable service(s) fees for the initial registration of the domain name and, should you choose to renew the registration, subsequent renewals of the registration. All fees are non-refundable, in whole or in part, even if your domain name registration is suspended, cancelled or transferred prior to the end of your then current registration term.
Then later in the paragraph... We will reinstate your domain name registration solely at our discretion, and subject to our receipt of the initial registration or renewal fee and our then-current reinstatement fee, currently set at US$200. You will be notified via an email message or via your account information when renewal fees are due. Should these fees go unpaid within the time specified in a second notice or reminder regarding renewal, your registration will be cancelled. Payment must be made by credit card or such other method as we may indicate in the registration application or renewal form. We will renew your name for you provided your credit card or other billing information is available and up to date, unless you instruct us otherwise within the time specified. If your billing information is not accurate and you wish to renew your domain name registration, we will contact you to update this information and charge you accordingly.
When I read through the legalities, I should have known. I contacted a computer tech friend who informed me that this group was a scam. I immediately called my bank and put a stop payment on my check. Fortunately, the check hadn't cleared. Here's an article about the 'reputation' of Domain Registry of America. http://www.searchenginecollege.com/2005/06/domain-registry-of-america-scammers-at.html
At the risk of incurring personal embarrassment in revealing this incident, I felt it was very important to inform the regular visitors of the Lexicon. I filed a complaint with the FCC about the incident. As far as the 'official addresses' listed, the addresses are probably the only thing about this group that is legitimate:
2316 Delaware Avenue #266, Buffalo, New York, NY 14216-2687
56 Gloucester Road, Suite, London, England SW7 4UB To all of the people who own domains, if you receive E-mails from this organization, delete them, if you receive anything in the mail, throw it in the trash.
I hope the outcome of this incident will be of help to others.
The X-Files Lexicon