How I almost got scammed

by Carl Natale on November 16, 2010

Maine Stream MediaI hoard domain names. At this moment, I own 46 domain names. Some of those are .net, .me and .biz versions of the .coms I own. For example,

But generally what happens is that I get an idea and rush to my computer to grab the domain name. Then it sits for me to flesh out the idea or devise a business plan. It probably doesn’t surprise you that I have a lot of idle domains.

One of those is I came up with the pun while considering the tension between bloggers and journalists. In a “Why can’t we all get along?” moment, I created a Facebook group to serve both camps. To make sure I could build a site around the idea (if it takes off), I registered the domain. Too bad was taken.

Too be honest, it’s my dream to run a media property named from one of my puns. Or a Beatles song.

But we’re now at the point where I’m vulnerable to a scam. I own but not It’s not a big deal because it’s a half-baked idea. That’s why there’s not much going on in the Facebook group.

But two things have changed.

  1. I got a better idea. It has to do with public relations and the media. I don’t know a lot about PR. But I wonder how much data most PR agencies have on hand. Do they know who in Maine is writing what kind of stories? Do they have any stats on web traffic and buzz? That sounds like a good business. Now if I only could think of a name for it….
  2. Someone offered to me. I got an e-mail from someone who thought I would like to own it since I have the .net version.

You see where I’m going with this?

So I decided I should grab the domain and explore my new business idea.

But something nagged at me. They were only asking for $30. Not exactly a (Nigerian) princely sum. But did they have the rights to own it in the first place? So I responded yes while putting whois research on my task list.

I got a response with instructions on how to send money via PayPal. They even offered to transfer the domain to me first. Then I could pay.

More alarms went off. That sounded so honest and nice. I wondered what the catch was.

After putting if off for awhile, I finally did a whois search. And found out that the domain was unregistered.

No more putting it off. I hit GoDaddy and registered for a price about a third of what was asked.

So apparently someone was looking for expiring domains that had alternate registered domains. Then they offered to “sell” the names. Or register it for them. They didn’t bother to snag it themselves to avoid any overhead. Interesting business model.

Going back over the offer, nothing seems illegal. But it’s based upon trickery. Basically I almost paid $30 for a domain registration.

Anyway, everything’s good. I’m looking into a new business idea armed with a clever name. My payment information is safe. And I have 48 domain names in my collection (I almost forgot

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1 Killer November 18, 2010 at 4:27 pm

It feels good to know I’m not the only one with domain names coming out my ears! It’s those great blogging instincts that saved you on this. When you have the knack, you do well. It amazes me how many people do not get those little alarm bells!

2 Carl Natale November 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Thank you. The real reason I got suspicious was I was wondering why the e-mail wasn’t coming from Of course I haven’t taken time to set up e-mail accounts for all my domains. But I’m not trying to sell any of them either.

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