Thursday, October 16, 2008

Almost Caught in the Web: Chinese Domain Name Scam

A few days ago I received a rather disturbing email about my jazz website, the full text of which appears below:

Dear CEO,
We are the department of registration service in China. we have something need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on Octomber 10, 2008, One company which self-styled "Tenderich Technologies Limited" are applying to register "playjazznow" as internet brand and CN domain names as below :

After our initial examination, we found that the internet brand applied for registration are as same as your company's name and trademark. These days we are dealing with it, hope to get the affirmation from your company. If your company has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these, Please contact us as soon as possible.
In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for dissent application is ten days. If your company files no dissent within the time limit, we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by "Tenderich Technologies Limited".

Best Regards,
John Wang
Senior consultant

This very sincere sounding email turns out to be a scam; one which I almost fell for. I corresponded with "Mr. Wang" for a couple of days and discovered that the only way I could prevent my trademark from being essentially hijacked would be to purchase the domain names myself. The implication in the original email was that his company would not approve the application submitted by "Tenderich Technologies" if was in fact registered to me, which, of course, it is.

I started to get suspicious and decided to do a little googling to see if anyone else had any experience with this type of thing. I wound up at this blog, which had a nearly word for word replication of the message I'd received. This is one of the great things about the internet. I realized instantly that I was but one of many people who have been contacted in this manner by some allegedly Chinese company. This company, China Public Domain, does have a legitimate looking website. So perhaps this is a not so subtle marketing tool. When I tooled around the site I did notice that there aren't any prices listed for anything, among other oddities.

In the future I will be even more wary than I already was with regard to the effluvia that winds up in my inbox. I've known for a long time that if something sounds too good to be true it probably isn't. The same might be said for things that sound too dire to be true as well.