Christopher's Broom Cupboard Rotating Header Image

Chinese domain name prospecting scam – it’s back

A couple of years ago, Jeff Ventura blogged about a fairly cunning domain name scam originating from China, whereby owners of domain names would be contacted by a ‘registrar’ indicating that another company was trying to register domain names with Asian TLDs that matched their existing domain name. This died down for a while, but it’s back again (and it doesn’t seem to have changed at all). I received one of these emails myself last week for a company I work for; read more for all the gory details (including copypasta of the email conversation I had with “Lebron Zhu”). Sinohosting also reported on this when it first began to occur.

[Update, July 20: They’re still at it, this time with a new name and company: James Hong, “Senior Consultant of domain name registration and solution center in china” and “one company which self-styled “Packs Co.,ltd” were applying to register [company name] as Network Brand
and following domain names”
.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck… [update ends]

From Jeff’s blog entry;

This is clever and it took a bit of time to figure out the pathology.  But there is one, and it’s interesting. 

This approach is obviously personalized to the owner/manager of a commercial Internet brand and hints at risk to our online trademark (miproconsulting) due to a foreign application being made for our trademark name in country-specific flavors (.asia, .biz, .cc, .cn, .com. cn., .hk, etc.).  Being the nice foreign domain registrar they are, the sender of this message, SK Holdings, is asking us if we want to do business with them and secure all of themiproconsulting variants listed below so that we can protect our Internet brand from this foreign applicant.

Isn’t it nice that someone halfway across the globe is looking out for our best interests?  Makes me want to do business with them right away.

So, if you get one of these emails, be very careful! 😉 Here’s the full transcript of my back-and-forth with this guy. Enjoy.

8th of April 2010: Lebron contacts us…

From: “lebron”
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 14:40:26 +0800
To: me
Subject: -Internet Copyright of revolverrecords-(To Principal)

Dear CEO/Principal,

We are a internet service provider and based in HongKong, which mainly deal with the global companies’ domain name registration and internet intellectual property right protection. Currently, we have a pretty important issue needing to confirm with your company.

On Apr 7, 2010, we received an application formally, one company named “Vleoel Holdings Ltd” wanted to applied for the brand keyword “revolverrecords” and some domain names with our body.

During our preliminary investigation, we found that these domain names’ keyword is identical with your name. I wonder whether you consigned Vleoel Holdings Ltd to register these domain names through us? Or is Vleoel Holdings Ltd your business partner or distributor in Asia? Currently, we have postponed this application of this company temporarily already. And this is a letter for confirmation. If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to appropriate dept.

In order to deal with this issue better, please contact us by phone or email as soon as possible.

Best Regards.

Lebron

Lebron Zhu
Auditing  Director
Hong Kong Head Office:
Web: http://www.wtl.hk.cn
Tel: 00852-95660205
Fax: 00852-30696940
Mail: lebron@west-asia.com
lebron@west-cnnet.com
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

I humour him, and respond:

from:me
date:2010-04-09 02:22:28
to:lebron@west-asia.com
Subject:RE: -Internet Copyright of revolverrecords-(To Principal)

Hello Lebron,

My apologies for the delay in replying and thanks for bringing this matter to our attention.

This is certainly nothing to do with us – we have not authorised the use of our trademark or any of our other registered marks to this company. I also do not recognise the company name Vleoel Holdings Ltd, although I am aware of a “Velo Holdings” based in New York City in the USA, I can find no reference to “Vleoel Holdings” on the web – please could you confirm that “Vleoel Holdings” is correct?

Also, could you provide us with some more specific details regarding what exactly this other company was attempting to register? We take a very dim view of trademark and brand infringement, particularly if they are attempting to do business in the same market sector. We actively do business in Asian markets so this is of concern to us if they are attempting to impersonate the business or misuse its brand or trademarks.

Again, many thanks for emailing us and performing your due diligence. I await your response.

Regards
Christopher Woods

Darn it, I want to hate him already but he’s just trying so hard. Watch him work it!

From: lebron [mailto:lebron@dnrcenter.hk]
Sent: 09 April 2010 02:08
To: me
Subject: Re: RE: -Internet Copyright of revolverrecords-
Importance: High

Dear Christopher.

I am glad you can contact me in time. If you have no relationship with Vleoel Holdings Ltd, according to our working experience, there are 2 possibilities.
1.Vleoel Holdings Ltd is a domain name investment company, they want to register these names before you and sell back to you to gain profits;
2.It may be a commercial method, Vleoel Holdings Ltd is consigned by your competitor to register, they are trying to replicate your idea and let your customers feel confusion.

We do not know that company’s detail information. They applied to us online. They wants to apply the following domain names and brand keyword:
1.Domain names:
revolverrecords.asia
revolverrecords.info
revolverrecords.biz
revolverrecords.eu
revolverrecords.ru
revolverrecords.it
revolverrecords.fr
revolverrecords.cn
revolverrecords.com.cn
revolverrecords.com.hk
revolverrecords.com.tw
2.Brand keyword:
Revolverrecords

As the owner of “revolverrecords.com”, you will get the priority to register these domain names and brand keyword. If you think these domain names are important to you, we can send you a dispute application form and help you register these domains within dispute period, this is the only way to prevent domain name from grabbing. But if you don’t think their application will do harm to your profits, you can give up, we will finish their registration.

Hopefully you can give me your decision ASAP so that we can conduct the next step work.

Best Regards.

Lebron Zhu

I decide to give him a poke… and point out some of his fairly fundamental mistakes in his approach, just to see if he bites:

from:Revolver Music Limited – Legal
date:2010-04-09 19:03:22
to:’lebron’
cc:
Subject:RE: RE: -Internet Copyright of revolverrecords-

Lebron,

We already have a strong brand presence online – we’ve owned our major domain names and most variations for around 15 years, but we’re always interested in protecting our trademark. However, we do not consider the domain names you have listed below as critical to our online presence – we will monitor these domain names and, should any of them be registered and attempt to replicate or duplicate our copyrights or trademarks, we will commence dispute arbitration proceedings with ADNDRC and ICANN should their content fall foul of the applicable rules to domain registration.

I am also aware of various Asia-based domain registration scams quite similar in content to your original email, so please excuse me if I am a little sceptical about this whole thing until I see more solid evidence.

Proactive domain dispute resolution has not been used by any major registrar for over a decade – NSI had a similar procedure set up for domain registrations in the 90s, but was dropped after 1999 when ICANN assumed overall control of the major TLDs. I oversee the registration of hundreds of domain names on a daily basis, and I have not once come across a ‘dispute period’ in the ten years or so I’ve been doing my job.

If you have any more information regarding ‘Vleoel Holdings Ltd’, please forward it to me because I can find no trace of this company on the web whatsoever, neither can I find any proof of its existence on a company register.

Best regards
Christopher Woods

AWWW, he didn’t really take the bait! But still, it was fun.

From: lebron [mailto:lebron@dnrcenter.hk]
Sent: 12 April 2010 08:16
To: me
Subject: Re: RE: -Internet Copyright of revolverrecords-
Importance: High

Dear Christopher.

I think you have a good knowledge of domain names, you should know that domain name takes open registration (this is international domain name registration principle), As a domain
name registrar, we have no right to stop their application. This is also the reason we informed you this issue. I think you know some cases about the domain names grabbed by third
party, and also frequently happens internationally, we also don’t hope that there will be some infringement on the interests of your company in the future.

On Apr 7, 2010 Vleoel Holdings Ltd has submitted the application to us, as domain name registration organization that authorized by government, we have to avoid the interference of
the third party, so we have protected these domain names. If you want to register these domain names yourself, we can send you a dispute application form to help you. Of course, if
you register in another place, we could do nothing to stop you. What we only can do is not notice you when the similar case happen in future.

We look forward to our first cooperation very much. We certainly need to respect your decision.Have a nice day.

Best Regards.

Lebron Zhu

58 Comments

  1. Stan says:

    They are now using “WIM Trades company” as the scam registering company. Beware.

  2. Clint says:

    Lol I just got one of these from “Alice Liu.” I kinda wish they would have used Kobe, since you got Lebron.

    The company was: http://www.hkbweb.net

  3. Alina says:

    Just recieved one from Andy Yang

    company’s name: “Jet Industrial Co. Ltd”

  4. Peter says:

    I just got this one:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    About the “(domain name)”. We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on August 13th, 2014 that a company claimed “TanHing Towan Co” were applying to register “(Domain Name)”as their Net Brand and some “(Domain Name” Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.

    Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for “TanHing Towan Co” Looking forward to your prompt reply.

    (It’s very urgent, so please transfer this email to your CEO or appropriate person. Thanks a lot.)

    Best Regards,

    Alice Liu

Leave a Reply