Hey! Got an Email from China Domain Name Registration Center, Asian Domain Registration Service In China, The Department Of Registration Service In China etc.?(21/05/2013 3:58 pm)
The reason that you have landed here is surely due to an email in your inbox from an Asian named domain name registrar such as
- China Domain Name Registration Center
- Asian Domain Registration Service In China
- The Department Of Registration Service In China.
The subject line is usually something like:
- "urgent brand registration confirmation"
- "Domain dispute and protection"
- "Asia, Cn, Hk domain name and Internet Keyword"
- "Notice of Brand name registration".
- xxxxxxx Renewal of domains (urgent case742947900)
04.02.16: LAST NAME ADDED TO THE LIST: Allan Wu, CN Network Information Center
In the email they probably request you to forward the email to your CEO. There is a sense of urgency, and they want you to quickly react to a supposed third party's plan to register a list of available domain names infringing your trademark rights. The third party could email you to tell about their plan as well. The email usually comes from Gareth Qi or Gareth Qiao via a hotmail address.
If you fall for this "offer" you end up paying premium prices for your domain names and they will even throw in a Brand protection product invented for the occassion. Recently they have also send out renewal reminders for non-registered domain names (sneaky, sneaky).
In the following I will discuss if this threat email should be taken seriously and which measures you should take. At the end we have collected the largest list of Chinese companies and individuals to be aware of plus examples of their emails. Please contact me if you have other examples, and do share the article so we can avoid more victims.
The unsolicited email you receive is from a Chinese domain registrar (could be a certified registrar, agent, affiliate or private person). In the email they explain that a supposed company (try to Google the name) is interested in some available domain names (typically .hk, .cn, .tw), which correspond with your brand name. In only a few days the other party will register these domains, unless you secure them first. The domain registrar can even send you an email from the interested third party (it comes from a hotmail address) claiming that they want to register your domain names, and they are only waiting for approval from Mr. Jim or whatever his name is.
In the email there is a list of the domain names but no prices. Prices will come in the second email and they are usually extremely high. See the example below.
It can be very expensive if you fall for it. A UK company was so kind to send me their bill. They paid for registrations of two domain names and that strange invented product Brand protection.
In this case the "domain registrar" registered the two domain names for 1 year each (the client paid for 5). He furthermore used his own email (a Gmail address), so he has now full control of the domain names at any time. That means that the victim cannot transfer away their domain names without his consent. The EUR 180 at the bottom is for that strange product "brand protection" at the exorbitant price of EUR 900 for 5 years.
This one is a bit more sneaky. Recently we have seen examples of renewal reminders for domain names,which aren't even registered. Here is an example:
I am Will Zhang,Manager of Auditing Dept of HK TLD Creating Limited.
The domains "xxxxxxxx.cn/.hk/.asia<http://xxxxxxxxx.cn/.hk/.asia>......" you registered with us had been expired, would you like to renew them ?
If you do not renew, these domains will be cancelled the registration and file automatically, they will be available, any individual or company will have the right to register them. If you choose to renew, these domains will continue to belong to your company, no other organization or individual can infringe your Internet and trademark.
Since this matter is very urgent and important. I hope you give me a reply asap.
Manager of Auditing Department
If you reply to them, they will usually send you a quote. In that email there is an order form to be signed. If they don't hear from you inside the next days, then they start to get really pushy sending a stream of emails, and they can even call you to put you under extra pressure.
Our clients here at European Domain Centre are international companies with worldwide brands to defend, and a couple of times each month they forward these emails to me with the question: Are they fake? Are these domains really going to be registered by another company inside a few days? I went back to look at emails that clients had send over the years. One client got an email from The Department of Registration Service In China on 13.02.12 with a list of 10 domains. All of these domain names are still available three years after. Another client received an email from Asian Domain Registration in China on 17.10.11 with a list of four domains. The client ended up registering one of the domain names with us and the other three have been left unregistered for the last four years. The question in the title must be answered with a clear NO. Stay away. This is a Chinese domain scam or at least a very non ethical way to sell a overpriced product.
Try to ask them for any customer reference or information about the third party company interested in your domain names, and they will say it is "confidential".
One of our readers have suggested to insult the "domain registrar" to make them stop. "In Chinese culture, privately shaming someone is unusually effective; if multiple people replied to these scammers with shamming language that resonated with a typical Chinese person, then it would actually be an effective deterrent". So go ahead and insult them, if they try to trick you!
As noted above it's a big mix. Some are real registrars certified at CNNIC (the barriers are low to be certified), while others are affiliates (even lower barriers to enter). However it still looks fishy. Going through the list of contacts I can see that many of the contacts only recently registered the domain name for their email, and no website exists. Some of the scammers regularly change their email address. Some on the list below have used +50 email addresses in one year. Why do something so suspicious ? My best theory is that they avoid being blocked by spam filters, when continously change email address.
If you check the WHOIS details of the registrant, many times you will see that the domain name they use for their email has only been registered a couple of days earlier. Usually they will use it for a limited period, and then move on to a new domain name. E.g. a client of ours received an email from email@example.com on the 01.11.13. Da-ip.org was registered on the 24.10.13.
One thing is for certain, it is a lucrative business. One of the largest "domain registrars" Chengdu Network Technology Co., Ltd. posted a job offer to hire 10 new employees, so expect more of these emails. For more about this company and their business model read this article.
Just relax. Your domain names will not be registered by the third party, if you decide to ignore their "offer". However, I would still recommend you to do a couple of actions.
1. If you have received an email like this, then please forward it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will list it in the article to warn about these emails. I have already enclosed a sample of these below.
2. Secondly, do let the scammer know what you think about him/her. You can eventually do like this guy and initiate a conversation with the "domain registrar". A more humorous approach is to connect him/her with another scammer on our list. Give him the contact email of the first person on our list, and tell him that "You need to talk to Gary at email@example.com, who is managing our domain names". Great fun to have the scammers spend each others' time.
3. It is surely not possible to stop this type of emails, but if anyone makes an effort, we can reach many potential victims. You can search in Google where to report scams to your local authorities. You can also share this article in your network, so we can spread the message and ensure that the database below is updated.
4., if you do think that some of the suggested domain names make sense, then by all means register them at your current domain registrar (Not China Domain Name Registration Center!).
This video by Conrad Longmore nicely explains the whole setup.
When you receive an email from China Domain Name Registration Center or a similar domain name registrar claiming that someone is about to register your rightful domain names, then it is 100% FALSE.
If you do reply they will offer you the domain names at premium prices. Furthermore they will try to sell long term registrations (up to 30 years) plus a strange product, which is called Brand. Apparently it's about protecting your brand in some way in China.
You can decide to just ignore the email. However I want you to take part in fighting this approach, which have already tricked money from so many. Here are the three things you can do:
1. Insult the "domain registrar". They have stolen your time and tried to steal your money, and should know what you think about them.
2. Send the email you received to me, as thousands have done until now. We will then add this company to our list.
3. Share the list scam.europeandomaincentre.com in your network (social media, blog etc.). These guys will rank very well in Google, when others search for their name.
Do remember that if you wish to register any of the domain names, then contact your own domain registrar, as they can surely register them for you.
Regarding the renewal reminders you should check the WHOIS data first. It is of course possible that you have received a legit renewal reminder from your normal provider. If it turns out that it's a scam and the domains appear available, then please follow the same three points above, as for domain registration scams.
Want to smarten up on domain name scams? I recommend as well that you read the article The Top 5 Domain Name Scams in 2012.