The domain name appraisal scam is making a comeback. Sometimes this is called the domain name purchase scam. Business is slowing all over the planet. Whenever this happens, the scammers seem to come out of the woodwork and look for ways to prey on web site owners.
Domain name scams have been around for a long time. They basically work like this. You will receive an e-mail from a company who expresses an interest in buying your domain name. Sometimes they claim to have a client who wants to buy the domain. They will ask you what you want for the domain. Most savvy domain name owners will send back a fairly high price to see how they react.
The way to identify the scam is that the perpetrator will then always appear to be in at least partial agreement with your price, but will request that the domain name be appraised by the “reputable” online appraisal service that they prefer to use. They almost always offer to purchase the domain using a legitimate escrow service, such as Escrow.com, which adds credibility to their offer. However, they want you to pay for the appraisal. Are you starting to see where this is going?
The site will be one that charges a high price for appraisals. The goal of the scammer is not to purchase your domain, but rather to drive business to the domain appraisal site. After you pay for the appraisal, the scammer will either ignore your messages or politely respond that their client has purchased another domain and is no longer interested in your domain.
Most successful scams require both a diversion and a method to prey on a person’s natural desire to profit. The offer to buy your domain is both the diversion and the profit motivation.
There are legitimate sites that offer free domain name appraisals, such as Estibot and Valuate. These types of sites offer automated appraisals that do not necessarily take the quality or size of your web site into account. They merely look at the general value of the domain name itself based upon keywords embedded in the name.
Don’t fall for the domain name appraisal scam. If you own a lot of domains, you can avoid these types of messages by subscribing to a domain name privacy service that hides your e-mail address in the domain’s WHOIS domain registration record.