The Chinese domain name scam has been around, in various forms, since around 2009 but in recent years has become more prevalent than ever. The email is from a Chinese company claiming to be a domain name registration centre who have kindly emailed you to let you know that the Chinese equivalent of your domain name has been requested by another company.

Luckily this scam isn’t too intrusive, compared to something like the sextortion scam which contains a breached password. We advise that you NEVER reply and delete the email from your inbox.

If you were to reply to the email, however, the company would try to sell you an incredibly overpriced Chinese domain name which you don’t necessarily need.

The standard email will go something like this:

Dear Manager,

Notice how they address you. They don’t address you by name, or even surname. Instead they opt for the more generic ‘Manager’.

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration centre in Anhui, China.

The second thing that immediately screams scam is that they never introduce their company name. They only introduce themselves as a network service company. Seems a little phishy.

On October the 7th 2019, We received F.A.K.E Corporation’s application that they are registering the name “YOURCOMPANY” as their Internet Trademark and “YOURCOMPANY.cn”, “YOURCOMPANY.com.cn”, “YOURCOMPANY.asia” domain names etc. It is China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark. In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

When registering a domain name, there is no authority that checks if a similar domain name is being used by an existing company so it’s very strange that they claim to be that unnamed authority.

Kind regards, Ms S. Cam Anhui Office Registration Department Manager Room 101 Shenhui Building China

The address seems plausible but with no business name attached to the email, there’s no way of cross-referencing to make sure that this is legitimate.

Above are some common red flags you can use to identify this email as a scam.

Common mistakes people make when receiving this scam email

Buying the domains from the Chinese registrar

These will be very overpriced and not necessary. The email is just to cause panic and hope that you see a Chinese domain name as something required to protect your brand from being registered elsewhere.

Buying the domains from your current registrar

It is likely that your current registrar, if questioned about the email, will try to convince you to buy the domains from them. They will likely utilise the element of fear, uncertainty and doubt to encourage you to make the sale with them.

The concept of a Chinese company registering a domain in your company’s name, using your SEO and confusing your customers may seem daunting but it’s all just a scam to get you to buy domains and extortionate prices. So, press delete, sit back and enjoy your coffee!