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Watch out for the latest domain appraisal scam

6:57 pm on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Oct 15, 2003
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If you're selling any domains and haven't received this yet, you will. Don't fall for it... I figured out pretty quick what the guy was up to, but not everyone catches the subtle errors in what they're saying. Company name omitted (I'll post if it's OK with the mods, but usually these guys just change company names once the cat is out of the bag. The message format usually remains the same).


How much do you ask for this domain for sale?

Our company invests in domains and developed web sites. If you have other domains for sale feel free to send your list.

Looking forward to do business with you.



Simple enough. I write back with my asking price. Next e-mail from him (bold parts added by me):

Hi #*$!,

$#*$!, Great.

Do you sell domain with a web site or just the name?

Domain without content is ok with me. Web site is not necessary.

Have you had your domain names evaluated in the past? I mean domain appraisals. Without valuation we cannot be sure in the sale price. It's very important for me in terms of reselling too. But we must engage a valuation company with REAL manual service. So I will only accept valuations from independent sources I and my partners trust.

To avoid mistakes I asked domain experts about reputable appraisal companies.

Please check this blog with suggestions from other sellers and buyers:

If, for example, the valuation comes higher you can adjust your asking price accordingly. It will be fair. I also hope you can give me 12% - 15% discount.

After you send me the valuation via email (usually it takes 1-2 days to obtain it) we'll continue our negotiations.

What is your preferred payment method: Escrow.com, International wire transfer, PayPal.com or something else?

Hope we can come to an agreement fast.

Looking forward to your reply.

Really? So you're saying if my domain appraises for more than what I'm asking, I can raise my price and you'll still buy it? Hahaha... as soon as I saw that I knew what he was up to. I sent a short reply saying domain appraisals are a waste of money, you either want the domain and know how to capitalize on it or you don't but thanks for your time. But he persits!

t's a standard practice to show independent valuation to buyers/resellers.
Nobody will do business without it. I'm a businessman and have no intention
of changing rules which help both parties to avoid additional risks.

Of course, investors never take into account auto-generated valuations. So
manual valuation is a "must" too.

I read the following information about appraisals at:

[http://same url he posted initially]

Without the independent valuation from a trusted source we don't spend a penny. This is our financial policy. So our offer is just a rought estimate. If the appraisal comes higher we are ready to offer a bit more. If it comes lower we will discuss the price with you again.

Thank you for understanding. I'm looking forward to do business with you.

Sent him another response, basically saying my price is my price take it or leave it and that if he really wanted an appraisal I gave him permission to go pay for one but added that I think he's wasting his money. His response:

It's a big risk to proceed without professional valuation. I already spoke
to industry experts and they prohibited me to do business without

Without manual valuation nobody will buy. You'll sit on your domain for
years in this case, paying renewal fees to your registrar. Just think about
it. So sooner or later, you'll have to obtain an appraisal. Why waste time

As a seller, you can use a valuation certificate to sell names to other
buyers. I cannot do the same because I don't keep control over your domain.

I'm still interested in your domain. Hope you'll change your position. I
simply don't want to take additional risks.

Thank you for understanding. I'm looking forward to do business with you.

I finally let him know I was on to him and to find another sucker, and haven't heard back since. A google search only showed one other forum that mentioned this particular chain, but they were all seeing the same message just from different people. A couple people fell for it and paid the $80.

Anyway, have some fun with these guys if they contact you. :)
9:36 am on June 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Mar 2, 2003
votes: 0

If they were experts, they'd know the price without any sort of appraisal. They would then offer a fraction of that price and hope to get lucky - that's how all real-world dealers work.

10:59 am on June 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:June 16, 2004
votes: 0

That's pretty much the standard "template" - the wording is identical (or nearly so) in all of those appraisal scams. I think they have a scripted set of standard responses to send out to each reply they receive - possibly automated. Another hallmark is that the sender's name always has some kind of "authority" designation - PhD, CEO, President, etc.

If you look at the first email closely, there will be other red flags: If you do a "full headers" on the message, the domain of the message origin won't match the "From" header. The ones I've personally seen have originated from Russia (.ru dialup - about 80% of them) or Norway (.no). Also, if you type in their "business" domain, it's frequently a parked page.

Tell them to buy their own appraisal and if you reach an agreement you'll deduct the fee from the purchase price :). Then watch how fast they disappear.

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