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I received an email to the email address listed on our website (it's a generic info@ourcompany.com to help "weed out" spam, whereas each employee has something like andreas@ourcompany.com to which I manually forward any "real" email that comes in through the website.)

I received the following email (with actual names replaced with placeholders):

Dear Sir,

We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on April 14, 2014 that a company which self-styled "Some Other Corp. Ltd.". were applying to register some "ourcompany" Asian countries top-level domain names.

Now we are handling this registration, and 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.

Best Regards,
Some Fake Person

The email is "plain" (no attachments, no embedded images, just some basic HTML), the email address is "normal" and not consisting of random characters.

Is this a common email scam; and if so, what is their motive?

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possible duplicate of A "new domain registration" spam? –  Xander Apr 21 at 21:22
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@Xander no, this is something different. –  tylerl Apr 21 at 21:31
    
@tylerl Ok, I've seen similar emails that are essentially just a variation on the theme from the other question. I see from your answer you've had experience with these folks before, and this is different. Rescinding my close vote. –  Xander Apr 21 at 21:39
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@Xander This one is a "someone is registering this domain in China, let us know if you think we should reject the application." The linked one is "you registered this domain, give us money to help you protect it." –  tylerl Apr 21 at 21:40
    
I added a link to my answer. There is simply no such "Asian Domain Registration Service in China" –  Matthew Peters Apr 21 at 22:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Yes, this email is a scam. Ignore it!

I work at a major web hosting firm, and our customers receive these emails on a frequent basis. There are a number of characteristics that are visible from this perspective which confirm that they are a scam:

  1. The emails are never sent by a recognizable, reputable domain registrar. Most of them use generic names, such as "Asian Domain Registration Service" in your email, "China domain registration center", or the like. The emails never have senders, headers, or signatures which explicitly link them with a registrar, and there is usually not even any accredited registrar with the right name.

  2. The domain registrations are never being made by a recognizable company or organization. You've obscured the relevant name as "Some Other Corp, Ltd" here, but the names are often generic ("Foo Trading Co") or incomprehensible ("FANGSHI Co"). Attempts to identify or contact them are never successful (or find only unrelated companies).

  3. They are frequently sent in relation to a domain name which would be meaningless under an Asian top-level domain. Many of them involve domain names containing names of people or locations — for example, these types of emails might claim that a Chinese trading company is attempting to register the domain "johndoe-hardware.hk" or "newyork-blahblah.asia". There is no apparent logic to these registrations.

  4. Despite supposedly coming from many different registrars, these emails always follow a very similar format. There are multiple templates, so the wording can vary, but the formula is always precisely the same. In particular, the domain names being registered are ALWAYS only under "Asian" TLDs (typically .asia, .cn, .hk, .tw, and .in), never under any other TLDs. Additionally, many of these emails also claim that the bundle includes an "Internet keyword" or "Internet trademark", which doesn't even exist.

We have advised a very large number of our customers to disregard these emails, and not once has any of the domains mentioned actually been purchased by the individual or company that was supposedly attempting to acquire them. None of the people who have written about receiving these emails online has had this outcome, either. Everything points to these emails being a widespread scam!


Further reading:

I can only post two links, but you'll find a bunch more if you do a Google search for "Chinese domain scam" or something of the sort. It's widely attested.

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Yes, this email is a scam. I have received several in the past, and once I played along with them for amusement.

I expressed interest in registering the domain names that were 'under dispute', and they sent me a pricelist for various .cn, .tw, .hk, and .in domains, ranging from USD $40 to $80 per year. They also offered me 'trademark protection' for USD $180/year.

I then told them I'd register the 'trademark protection' and they sent me a form, which stated:

The brand name will be protected by the law around the world after finish the registration.

This statement in particular indicates a scam, because it is extremely unlikely that a trademark could be protected in every country for $180/year!

In addition, the domain names that had been 'applied for' by the 'competitor' have not been registered after 3.5 years, although they were apparently going to be approved unconditionally after 10 workdays.

Apart from their basic English skills they appeared very professional, with a proper logo, a website explaining what they do, phone and fax numbers, and addresses. They even attempted to call me several times.

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It sounds like a phishing email to me. If it was a real company asking for confirmation, they would only require confirmation action by you in order to approve the 'registration' and would not require action on your part in order to disapprove the 'registration'.

Also, the whole premise is bogus. The internet is free to register domain names even if they encroach on copyrights or trademarks (although there is certainly a path to file litigation).

Lastly, ask yourself if your company is even trying to get an Asian domain name. Likely, the answer is no...

Edit: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/domain-name-application-scam.shtml a simple google search will show numerous examples.

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3  
"Lastly, ask yourself if your company is even trying to get an Asian domain name." The point is that a company that ISN'T you, is registering a domain that is SIMILAR to your company's name. –  HC_ Apr 21 at 21:56
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I find it very hard to believe that there is some benevolent organization out there that just wants to know if approve of a cyber squatter... –  Matthew Peters Apr 21 at 22:43

Our company received this kind of email today as well. It is really a big funny FAKE!

*(This is a very important case, so please transfer this email to your CEO or appropriate person. Thanks a lot.)
Dear CEO/Principal,

We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on June 19, 2014 that a company claimed "ElsndYhen Company" were applying to register "domain" as their Net Brand and some "domain" Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and 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 would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for "ElsndYhen Company" Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Best Regards,
Eric Ma
Senior Consultant Manager*

They put a lot of effort in it, but two mistakes are obvious: The email came from: Eric Ma (ericm@nassco.net.cn) and this is a fake non existent domain. The signature is also poor in quality and indicates a existing domain registration service. But this is also one big bollocks: Under contact us the contact email is E-mail:tingjiang87@msn.cn and all the contact information are just one big FAKE.

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