Someone has bought your China domain name scam

Last updated: September 18, 2019 Posted in by Lis Sowerbutts

We are not the only NZ business to get this email — for a scam — it’s well written, and looks vaguely legit. Particularly for the non-techie business owner who may freak out that someone is trying to steal their company name.

Chinese Domain Name Spam Email

So let’s unpack what they are actually saying here. They are claiming that another company is attempting to register “your” domain name with a top level domain (TLD) of cn. Although this is possible, how would you know?  And far more importantly — why would you care? There are an awful lot of TLDs — and most New Zealand businesses register just a handful e.g. NZ, com, maybe other country-specific TLDs if they are doing business in Australia (au), the UK (uk). Most of us are not doing business in China and so don’t have the cn extension. Hell we don’t even own — not prepared to offer US$200+ to the broker who has registered that name (a common situation for dot com extensions).

Even if you have trademarked your company name (which most NZ businesses don’t attempt to do — and in many cases wouldn’t be able to do) — this gives you few rights to purchase the matching domain name.

Our standard advice if you are looking at developing a new business and the website is important — make sure you check the relevant domain names are available first before you bother with a business name — which is usually much easier to find something close enough to register.

So back to the scam email. The reason this one looks so legit is that company does appear to be a Chinese domain registrar based in Shanghai — it really exists (no I’m not linking to it). And I’m sure they can register for us and all the others. The only real question is what are they going to charge us for it? As much as they can get away with I’m betting — as we would no doubt end up in a bidding war against the fictional Chinese company mentioned who may want our domain name! I’m guessing it will be a whole lot more than the US$12 that GoDaddy wants to charge us!

Fun  random factoid — it appears to be incredibly easy to register a cn domain name — according to GoDaddy — you just need to show ID. If you want to register an au domain name you’ll need an Australian Business Number and be registered as a company in Australia which matches the domain url you want! Go figure. If you are doing business with China and are considering a Chinese language website this may be a legit way to go — I’d be very wary dealing with this company and their dodgy business practices though!

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