It’s never more than a few months before the old domain appraisal scam rears its ugly head, but for us old time domainers we can spot these fake emails a mile off and delete them accordingly. Owning a lot of domains I have gotten my fair share of these scam emails, yet for newbies desperate to make that first big buck, I can imagine it is fairly easy to fall for a domain appraisal scam, so I thought I’d pen a post about how to spot a scammer and how to test the water if you aren’t sure.
How Does The Domain Appraisal Scam Work?
The scam itself is simple. You will be contacted by an anonymous person who claims to be interested in buying your domain name, and to tickle your excitement that bit further they make a great offer, either matching your buy now price or well above what they know your domain is worth. But…to proceed with the sale you must comply with their request for a domain appraisal. You’d be right in thinking that this isn’t an unreasonable request, because any person spending big money on a domain would want to know that all is above board. Thing is, the person emailing you has no intention of buying your domain, only of getting you to use a domain appraisal service with which they have a vested interest. So basically you pay for an appraisal, they get paid, and you never hear from them again.
How To Spot a Domain Appraisal Scam
In my experience, the first email from someone genuinely interested in a domain never mentions a domain appraisal. The first email is usually just to touch base, make contact, make an offer and generally register interest. Once a price has been decided then a mutually agreed domain appraisal service will be decided upon. And the buyer will usually have no problem using one you have used previously.
Often the emails try and get you to use a domain appraisal service you’ve never heard of, not one of the more reputable companies. If you suspect a scam, test the scammer by agreeing to a domain appraisal and say, “I agree to your offer. Please go ahead with the appraisal and I will deduct the fee from the sale price.” If a person is honestly interested in buying the domain this won’t be a problem for them.
Who Are These Domain Scammers?
It is likely the scammer works for the appraisal company in some respect, or are affiliates of an appraisal company. It is also possible they have set up a fake appraisal company to go with the scam email, and you end up paying for an appraisal with a company that doesn’t exist anyway. Either way, it is unethical and fraudulent, and only seeks to rip people off. So be on guard. Treat every email you get regarding the sale of your domains with caution.