We have posted recently on those legitimate-looking (and often tenuously legal, if scandalously unethical) solicitations designed to separate gullible business owners from their money, or worse. Here’s another one.
Quick, a scammer is stealing your business name!
Well, not really, but it looks like it. You receive an email that purports to be from the Asian Domain Registry, or something similar. It will start something like this:
We are a leading internet solutions company in China, and we have something urgent to confirm with you. We formally received an application on [recent date] from a company called [generic sounding Chinese company name] to register [YOUR DOMAIN NAME.cn/ .com.cn/ .net.cn/ .in/ .tw/ .com.tw/ .com.hk/ .hk/ .vn/ .asia, or something like that] through our domain registration service.”
Your first reaction is to wonder who is trying to register a domain name containing my brand name, for what surreptitious purpose, and how can I protect myself and my valuable IP?
Fortunately the internet solutions company has thought of all that for you, as the message continues:
According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark, and our audit process permits us to keep the domain names safe for you by allowing you to register these domain names for your company during the five-day waiting period before they are released to the applicant. Please ask the responsible officer in your company to contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!
Registration Department Manager
Well, thank goodness for Mae Chen! It seems all you have to do is purchase those ten domains yourself (and goodness knows what related hosting or forwarding services) and your brand will be safe!
Now, it may be that you really do need Alpharetta-Pizza.com.cn, Alpharetta-Pizza.com.asia, or Alpharetta-Pizza.com.hk. If so, you may want to drop the “delivery in 30 minutes or the pizza’s free” promotion.
If you do want to register a Chinese domain, you should check out the real China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) at http://www1.cnnic.cn/. CNNIC maintains lists of accredited registrars (the identities of non-approved companies, on the other hand, changes from day to day as these companies pop up and then disappear with their ill-gotten gains).
Do yourself a favor and do this before you punch in your credit card number or call up Mae Chen.