Domain industry attorney Jason Schaeffer reported today that three of his clients received $60,000 offers to buy domain names, and the supposed prospective buyer requested an “appraisal certificate” in order to proceed with a deal.
3 clients this week had $60K offers through GoDaddy. Each appeared to be from Japan requesting an “Appraisal Certificate.” Screen shot of the result: Pay $349 to appraise and verify your domain name. A good way to lose $349. #domaining #domainnames pic.twitter.com/F3wOEKaCIU
— Jason Schaeffer (@TLDadvisor) July 3, 2020
I have never heard of a legitimate buyer needing any sort of domain name appraisal or third party valuation in order to continue with a deal. In addition, I can’t imagine someone who needs to understand the value of a domain name would make an offer without first having the valuation.
There are quite a few variations of this type of email. The email typically states that an appraisal certificate or some other form of valuation is needed to complete the deal. The registrant is enticed by a strong offer, which is generally not legitimate. When the domain registrant replies to ask about the certificate, the prospective buyer supplies a link for the registrant to pay for an appraisal. If the registrant agrees and pays, the prospective buyer is actually the beneficiary of the payment. Of course, the deal does not go through because the whole idea is to get a domain registrant to pay for an appraisal and the offer is typically just a ruse.
What I believe Jason is saying is that the offers his clients received were sent through the GoDaddy Whois contact form, and those emails may be more likely to be white listed. In addition, registrants may think they are more official since the email is sent via GoDaddy’s servers and come in an official looking email.
Unfortunately, because GoDaddy redacted Whois data, the contact form GoDaddy provides may be the only way for someone to contact a domain registrant to inquire about a domain name. If there is substantial abuse of the form, it may give GoDaddy a reason to remove this form. That would not be good. Hopefully GoDaddy can investigate and resolve this without removing this helpful tool.