The Internet is full of scammers. In just about every industry there are fringe groups who in many cases aren’t even part of the industry, that try to scam those who are getting started. They prey on beginners who have little information and sometimes just a bit more trust than they should. In the world of Domains there is a scam that has been running strong for years, it’s called the domain appraisal scam and here’s how it works.
One day you get an email from someone who wants to buy one of your domains, their offer price is much higher than you would have expected. The celebration begins! You get excited, maybe call some friends, tell your parents, heck in your mind you just sold a domain you bought for $10 for $10,000. The person making the offer is ready to buy, all they need from you is a domain appraisal.
This is where most people who are new to the domain world don’t bat an eye. If you buy a house you get an appraisal. If you buy a car you get an appraisal. So maybe its normal to get an appraisal when buying a domain. Wrong! This is not normal and about 99% of the legitimate buyers out there won’t ask you for an appraisal because in the domain world, appraisals are relatively meaningless.
Still, you get this email and you want to believe in your heart and soul that you have a real offer on your domain. How could someone scam you if they’re just asking you to get a simple appraisal?
Typically in the email the scammer will tell you that they only trust human appraisals and have an appraisal service they swear by. In some cases they’ll even share a link to a blog post or forum thread about how this particular appraisal service is a reliable one. So here’s the rub, the scammer owns the appraisal service and the forum or blog they sent you to. You pay for the appraisal and they disappear off the face of the planet.
I know people who have actually gone out and celebrated after receiving the domain appraisal scam. They feel like they just made their first big domain sale and an early celebration can’t hurt right? The problem is they end-up popping the champaign to celebrate the loss of $100 to a scam appraisal service.
As you may know, I’ve made it my personal mission to stop these scammers and I have a pretty large database of all the different emails and names that these scammers use. It all started with a post I wrote about the domain appraisal scam which now has 117 comments, many of them copies of the emails people have received from scammers. If you would like to view these emails to see if an email you received could have come from one of these scammers please click on the link below:
This year I will also be taking my efforts to combat this scam to the next level and creating a searchable database of these scammers to make it even easier to identify them. Many people have filed reports with the BBB, FBI, local police, etc. however like many online crimes, nothing has been done to stop these scammers, the only way to stop them is to spread the word and expose them for who they are.
So don’t start off 2013 celebrating an amazing sale that is never going to happen, avoid the domain appraisal scam. Oh and if you get an email from a scammer that’s not on my list, please add it to the comment section here or on my original post. Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!