Friday, April 20, 2007

New form of domain appraisal scam

I've just bought a couple of domains on the aftermarket: & and until I get around to building them properly have set them up as mini-sites on 1plus. While I was setting them up I saw some news items that alerted me to a new variation of the old appraisal scam.

The traditional appraisal scam works by scammers approaching a domain owner and offering a very good price for it. Negotiations continue for a while, and then the buyer "Needs" an appraisal to convince their boss, or for the bank manager, or some suitable excuse.

They insist that the appraisal comes from a company they nominate.

Once the appraisal is paid for, the scammers vanish, leaving the domaineer out of pocket.

Two articles I read at The Register and SC Magazine detail a new form of this hoary old chestnut.

The scam is that the domain owner is approached and is pointed at what appears to be a forum discussing domain valuation services to choose a valuer. The consensus on that page is that a particular company which sells appraisal software is the best.

The victim then buys the software & the crooks vanish.

The company making the software denies all knowledge, except that he crooks are apparently signed up for its affiliate program and are supposed to get an affiliate fee.

The software company professes shock and horror & promises to terminate the affiliate's contract.

Until the next time, at least.

Either the crooks are really dumb, because they have to know they'll get sprung fairly quickly (Affiliate programs don't pay out in real time) or something isn't quite as it seems. To quote the famous TV program "You may well suggest that, I couldn't possibly comment"

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