Don’t get scammed by stephanie@host1-no.info or stephanie@hostgator-domains.info

domain-appraisal-scam

Domain appraisal scams seem to still be going strong and one of the most recent ones comes from someone claiming to be Stephanie Meyer who represents an investor in Canada who wants to buy your domain name. In one version of the email I’ve seen her identify herself as a representative from Hostgator using the email address stephanie@hostgator-domains.info. The email will look something like this:

Hello!

I represent an investor from Canada who wants to buy [your domain name] for a new online project.

The buyer is a professional investor in Real Estate.

Investing in web names is a new direction for him.

I located your contact information in a domain name whois lookup and understand that you own the domain name.

Are you still interested in selling?

I work for a hosting company.

I help our clients to buy and sell intellectual properties.

If you have more names I can help you to sell them.

Best Regards,

Stephanie Meyer

Domain Name Broker

Host1 Norway

I have written about domain appraisal scams in the past, in fact one of my posts has over 800 comments now, most from people who have received emails from a scammer. The way the scam works is, the scammer sends an email like the one above that gets you excited, “hey, someone wants to buy my domain name!”

Then it gets better. They tell you that your domain is probably worth $10,000 or more, you just need to get an appraisal to prove the value and the domain is as good as sold. You get more excited. They send you a link to an appraisal site, heck they often even send you a review of that appraisal site from some other site, so it must be legitimate right?

Nope, both sites are run by the scammer. Nobody wants to buy your domain name, they want to charge you for an “appraisal” that’s how they make their money. Once you pay for the appraisal they disappear. This scam has been going on for over a decade but it’s still going strong.

I try to do a service to the community and out a scammer every time I get one of these. Don’t get scammed, and expose these scammers publicly whenever you can.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Konstantinos Zournas June 4, 2016, 6:54 pm

    That is not good. I own a similar .info domain name. 🙁

    Reply
  • MoveCon June 4, 2016, 9:44 pm

    Received the same email.
    Yet “Stephanie” and her cohorts are stupid enough to offer a help in selling “another domains.”
    That gives the game away…

    Reply
  • Eric Lyon June 4, 2016, 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the heads up! It’s nice to see reports like this so everyone can be on the lookout and protect them self.

    Reply
  • LDD June 6, 2016, 4:11 pm

    I just received the exact same email from a Rebecca@host1-no.info. Was excited at first but then thought to do my due diligence by researching the company then I stumbled upon your site. Thanks for the great work Morgan. You’ve just saved me a bunch. Best regards, LDD

    Reply
  • Nabil June 7, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Same here, I have just received the exact same email from a Rebecca@host1-no.info. Same dialog about a real state investor who wants to invest in domains.

    Reply
  • Jason Koumas August 17, 2016, 8:10 am

    Yep I received that same email from ‘Stephanie’ and fell for it. I bought the appraisal certificate like mentioned from http://www.authorize-domain.com. Has this any value at all?

    Reply
  • Jason Koumas August 17, 2016, 8:25 am

    Yep I’ve received this same email from ‘Stephanie’ and purchased the appraisal certificate from http://www.authorize-domain.com. Does this have any value at all?

    Reply
  • Hal S October 15, 2016, 9:33 am

    They’re at it again kids, and I almost fell for it. Got an email from “Maria Ernst”, a “Swiss lawyer”, address @swiss-bar-association.info. They even have it set up so that if you try to navigate to swiss-bar-association.info, it re-directs your browser to the actual Swiss Bar Association site. Maria, however, is not in the bar’s directory. Quelle surprise!

    So this morning, “Maria” tried to direct me to the site of “industry leader, authorize-domain.net” for an “appraisal” at the low, low price of $200. A bit of whoising shows that both the authorize-domain.net and swiss-bar-association.info domain names were created last week. Also, much of the language in the emails I’ve received is identical to the language in the email above.

    Slick! But NOT SLICK ENOUGH!

    Reply
  • John Berryhill November 30, 2016, 1:10 pm

    They’ve added a cute trick.

    Someone just sent me an email thread with these scammers, and the email includes a link to “information about domain certifications services” here: http://answersgoogle.org/answers/threadview/id/72042637.htm

    Of course, Answersgoogle.org is not a Google domain name. It is registered through GoDaddy with Google’s whois data, but Google doesn’t use GoDaddy or that set of nameservers.

    Naturally the “Google Answers” directs the victim to use authorize-domain.net.

    Reply
  • Hal S December 3, 2016, 7:37 am

    Yeah, I got the same link from “Maria Ernst”. Glad you didn’t fall for it either.

    Reply
  • Anders gustavsson December 25, 2016, 3:15 pm

    I just got an even slicker email:

    This was message #1

    Hello!

    I represent an investor who wants to buy nbasportshop.com for a his new online startup.

    Is it still for sale? If yes, please respond and we we’ll discuss the details.

    Sinerely yours,

    Anna Dawidowicz

    Domain Broker

    Net Firms CA

    Milton

    L9T 7W4

    Then I replied and said I was interested…this is message #2:

    Our commission is 3 % only. You will pay it after receiving the funds from the buyer. In order to earn a better commission I will do my best to sell your domain at the highest price possible.

    My buyer invests money in online projects. He buys 10-12 domains for each project to get the maximum traffic possible.

    The buyer will pay you the appraised value stated in an official certificate. He needs an independent expertise because you and me are interested in a high sale price and my buyer does not want to overpay. He also needs it for accounting and tax purposes. The buyer guarantees to pay you the price stated in your certificate.

    Based on my experience, I think your name is in $10,000 – $15,000 range.

    Do you have a certificate of the appraised value from an independent authority (not your broker or auction site)?

    If you don’t have it’s not a problem. You can order it online. I will suggest the best source when we can get a good valuation.

    The certificate will increase the value of your domain. It’s a must do if you wish to sell your domain to a professional investor with a good budget.

    The certificate must include only 2 things to be accepted by my buyer:

    1. Independent valuation of the market price. Only manual valuation is accepted. No valuations generated by scripts.

    2. Trademark infringement verification. It proves your domain has no trademark problems. He would like this verification to be included in the appraisal report. It’s not a problem because some companies include the TM verification for free.

    You can read about the recommended certification agency at Google Answers: http://answersgoogle.org/answers/threadview/id/93061745.htm (“Domain Broker” is my nickname there).

    The process is very easy and will take only two minutes of your time:

    1. Go to the certificate agency site and submit your domain for the certification. Please let them know you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation. If value of your domain is $1000 or higher, they will send you the payment instructions. If it’s not possible, they won’t send you the instructions. This way you will not lose anything. It’s very convenient and gives you the full protection. Other services charge you upfront even if your domain is not worth spending the appraisal fee, so I don’t recommend them.

    2. If your request is approved just pay them the fee and wait for 24 hours. Then send me the results via email and we will start the sale process. As soon as he receives your certificate, he will buy your domain via an escrow service. Any escrow service will be able to pay you via Paypal, Wire, Western Union or any other method you prefer.

    He wants to ensure the safe delivery of the funds to you. Furthermore, since this is our first time conducting any business, I believe that using a third-party escrow service can provide a safe, well defined sale process.

    If you are new to certifications or domain sales, I can send you step by step instructions. I will also help you during the whole sale process. You will be able to contact me at any time.

    I may send you email addresses of domain sellers who used my services in the past for references. They may share their experience with you.

    ….

    This all feels very similar to the initial posts here…

    Right??

    Reply
  • Hal S December 27, 2016, 3:20 pm

    Yep, the second message has much the same language as the one I received several months ago. Though I will say, in the first message, their English has improved. But it’s still the same scam pitch, same price range, same link to answersgoogle.org. And I really wonder how much these folks are taking in.

    It occurred to me that, if you go the appraiser and they tell you your domain name is worthless or at least worth much less than the promised amount, you’re still out the $200 or whatever the appraisal cost, but they really might not have broken any laws, considering that they’ve rendered the service you paid for. In which case, even though it’s obviously a scam, there might not be anything the authorities could do.

    Speaking of which, I reported all this to GoDaddy, the registrar for all their domain names, last October. Heard nothing back from them and obviously these folks are still in business.

    Reply
  • Gargi February 1, 2017, 12:40 am

    I received same mail from Alexandra from legal@swiss-legal.info & legal@swiss-lawyers.info . Unfortunately I purchased the appraisal certificate from http://www.authorize-domain.com. They are still sending me mail asking to use another payment service of US$ 200. I told them to use escrow but they are requesting to use authorize-domain.com. I asked them to send check then. They said sent but received nothing. Can someone help me to unmask them

    Reply

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