This post is primarily for those who own custom domains. Nonetheless, even if you don’t have a custom domain, it’s still a good idea to be informed about this kind of thing.
This morning, when I checked my email, I saw an email from a Chinese domain registrar. To those who don’t know this jargon, a “domain registrar” is a company where you can register a domain name for your website. For example, my blog is learnfunfacts.com. I have to register this name through a domain registrar to a domain registrar in order to own this domain name.
The email informed me that, apparently, a company named “Vsilp International Ltd.” had registered “learnfunfacts” through them. It said the company planned to register “learnfunfacts” with several Chinese TLD’s (top-level domains) such as .cn and .hk. The email asked me whether I would authorize this.
Here is the screenshot of the email:
Now, you may wonder what’s the point of this. It’s not as if I have the power to stop them, right? You may also be wondering how could this be a scam.
In many cases, people tend to ignore an email like this. However, companies and people who market their brands may feel threatened if they receive such an email. So, they may contact the registrar and inquire for more details.
This is where the scam starts.
The registrar would then inform them that to stop this from happening, he had graciously reserved the domain names just for them. Of course, they have to purchase all those domains to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands…
I am not certain how many Chinese TLDs exist, but I’m sure that there are at least more than ten.
Imagine if a company purchases all of those Chinese TLDs for its domain, then it would have to pay US$300 or more a year.
This scam has been around for a long time. I first heard this in 2010 when an American blogger asked me about it. At the time, I don’t have any idea about this scam so I asked a few lawyers who I know. Most of them haven’t heard of this but one of them was able to shed light on this. She’s a corporate lawyer who had several years of experience working in China so she’s very familiar with this. I was surprised when she told me that this scam’s an old one and she had already received several letters from foreign companies asking her the same thing. I was further told that this scam had already deceived several people and companies.
After so many years, it seems that this scam isn’t dead yet. This means that it may still be effective at fooling people. After all, certain scams continue to survive for a reason.
So, if you receive this kind of email, just disregard it.