ICANN Certified Appraisal Scam

There are just so many companies around claiming this designation, just do a google search for “ICANN Certified Appraisal“, but the problem is simply, ICANN don’t certify “appraisers”.

icann-certified-appraisal-scam

So here’s how they tried to work the scam on me. I had just listed a couple of domains on Sedo (highly reputable and well run), probably the best known “Domain Marketplace”, a few days ago and within a couple of days I get an email:

From: domainlawyer@space-investments.info <domainlawyer@space-investments.info>
Sent: 23 May 2014 02:56
To: Marc Kranat
Subject: somedomain.net
Hello!
I'm an official broker of an investor from Portsmouth (UK). He is going to buy your somedomain.net.
My client has 408,000 euros budget for 25-30 domains. Please specify your asking price in the subject of your message.
I'm working with many domain investors. If you have other domains for sale please email me the list. I may offer your domains to my clients.
How can we send money to you? I think an escrow service is the most secure way for both parties.
If it's your first time sale I can help you with the escrow/transfer process. My work is paid by the buyer so my services are free for you.
Best regards,
Ralph Bauman
Vice President Investor Relations
Space Hosting Services
Switzerland
Bern
Bernstrasse 28
Phone: 32 993 12 34

Of course people offer to throw money at me everyday, wondering where this was going, I told him it was already for sale, fixed price 1000 Euro.

you can buy this domain through sedo
there is a buy now button

I’m still figuring out where this scam is going, his reply makes it a lot clearer.

On 14-05-23 07:14 AM, Domain Lawyer wrote:
Subject: My client offers $12,000. 
Before we proceed my investor needs only one thing from you:
As you may know all major domain brokers does not allow listing above $1000 or higher if you don't have an official appraisal. Since the sale price is not low in our case, my client needs an official certificate of price (appraisal). He also needs to know you have no trademark problems. It won't be a problem since I know an official appraiser that offers this option (trademark infringement verification) for free as a part of the appraisal service.
I'm also interested in a good valuation and a high sale price because my client pays me a commission (10-15% of the sale price) on every domain purchase. So I'm not interested in low sales too.
Of course, you should not use a free automated service like Estibot or similar services. My client won't accept them. I was working for Estibot and knew they were using automated scripts for free appraisals. In our case we need a real manual valuation.
Several years ago, to avoid mistakes and wasting money on useless automated services I asked in Google answers about reliable manual valuation/TM verification services. Please read this: http://www.archive-google.com/threads/threadview18602597.htm (Domain Lawyer is my nickname).
The process is very easy:
1. Go to the appraisal site and order the valuation with the TM verification. Submit your domains to them and let them know you have a buyer with $12000 offer so you need the appraisal near this value. In this case you won't get a low value. If the appraisal comes higher you can increase the price accordingly. It will be fair.
2. Then send these results via email and we'll proceed with the deal.
If you are new to the appraisal process I can help you with a step by step instructions.

So here we have some clues, although I’ve clearly told him the price is 1000 Euros he wants to pay me $12000, classic “advance fee fraud” most commonly used in Nigerian 419 scams. They also commonly initiate contact using a fake lawyer. So I push him a bit more, honest aren’t I, and make it a bit clearer for him.

well buy it yourself for 1000, and sell it to him for 12,000

And he confirms that he’s not really an honest lawyer after all, he’s ready to stitch up his client and cut me in on the action, this is often the twist that catches the greedy criminally inclined sucker.

On 14-05-23 04:43 PM, Domain Lawyer wrote:
What will I do with your domain after purchasing? If I begin to buy names cheap and sell expensive to my client he will find it out and cancel our partnership. I cannot afford to lose my client.

So, I bite, I’m interested in seeing the fake Escrow service that he’s using, as it’s obviously not going to be a straight forward commonly used bouncing cheque method.

ok, what escrow do you use to-do the transfer? what did you "want" to pay for it?
 I have the .com also.

here’s the reply

Before we pay you we need the appraisal from you. 
Before we proceed you should obtain an official appraisal from http://domainswanted.net
They verify trademarks and my client trusts them. They send results very fast - within 24 hours. Other services may send results within 3-7 days. This is not acceptable for my client. I also purchased some of their products earlier(wanted ads access and direct email service). This is a very reliable company with a great customer support.
Just submit your domains and write in the comment field that you have a buyer with $X,XXX offer so you need the appraisal near this value.In this case you won't get a low value. If the appraisal comes higher you can increase the price accordingly. It will be fair. Then email me the results and I will resend them to my buyer.

Now this is an interesting twist and where I was introduced to the fake “ICANN Certified Appraiser”. So I went and visited “Domains Wanted” site and requested appraisals of 2 domains, no on-line payment options. And this is what I got a few minutes later.

From Customer Support <cs@certifiedappraisal.net>
Dear Marc,
Please send 123 usd (49 usd appraisal fee * 2 domains + 25 usd bank fee) to the following bank details (for transfers in USD). In the details of payment please specify: "ATTN: A434170".
Please let us know the bank transfer reference No, the name of sender (you) and your address. We will need it to identify your transfer.
Beneficiary Name:
MTACC INC
Beneficiary address: 3160 Crow Canyon Rd. Suite 220, San Ramon, CA 94583, USA
Bank Name: BB&T
<snipped banking details>
Payment Details: ATTN: A434170
After we receive your payment we will appraise your domains.
Sincerely,
Sandra Miller
Customer Support

certifiedappraisal.net is just a mirror of domainswanted.net, searching both of these sites on Google without adding the word “scam” actually doesn’t list either negativity despite them both being obvious fake “ICANN Certified Appraisers” and ScamAdvisor and BBB at this time have not picked them up. I don’t really know for sure what the involvement of MTACC INC is in this scam, or just as innocent as PayPal would be if that was the payment method, I will be asking though.

While I really don’t have sympathy for those drawn into the deeper scam of “ripping off the lawyers client” and getting ripped off themselves. Very innocent people are caught out, just from the initial contact. Of course if you did get drawn in deeper, it’s not so easy to admit to the authorities that you got scammed while scamming someone else, namely the lawyers fictitious client.

UPDATE
I have seen the a similar story of the same scammers at work in a blog post here at Kejanny from last year.

Here are a couple more urls associated with this scam, icaan.net, premiumdomainsales.org, icannappraisals.com & icann-certificates.org.

 

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10 thoughts on “ICANN Certified Appraisal Scam”

  1. Hi.. I also received email from Ralph Bauman. Exactly same email content as your post here. Now he uses premiumdomainsales.org
    Am I being scammed also? Please advise

    1. 100% premiumdomainsales.org is the same people, the same scam, don’t give them a penny, and if you did, notify the Bank, Credit Card Company or PayPal, I have seen them reverse payments in some cases.

      1. Thanks for advise Marc. No I didn’t give them a penny. I just ignored his email since I read your post here. And now Just built my own domaining blog http://domainomy.com . You can see my post about icann scam there. I bought it from deleted domain that I got from a blog. Thanks a ton Marc.

  2. Same thing here today.
    Offered me 6000$ for a domain with no value at all. Of course, before I get paid, I had to pay 79 Euros for domain appraisal at premiumdomainsales.org.

    Initial message I received:
    Hello!

    I’m an official broker of an investor from Milford (UK). He is going to buy your dubonmangersant.com.

    My client has $376,000 budget for 25-30 domains. Please specify your asking price in the subject of your message.

    Our company is in hosting business. We also provide brokerage services for domain investors. I’m working with many domain investors. If you have other domains for sale please email me the list. I may offer your domains to my clients.

    How can we transfer money to you (escrow, wire, Paypal or Western Union)?

    I can also help you with the transfer process.

    Best regards,

    Isaac Robinson

    Vice President Investor Relations

    Solutions Web Swiss

    Switzerland
    Bern
    Bernstrasse 124
    Phone: 32 993 12 31

  3. The same for me, with “Craig Hernandez”; and fake links such as Please read this: answers.archive-google.com/answers/threadview9741836.htm

    “..My client offers $12,000.

    Ok. Great! Before we proceed my investor needs only one thing from you:

    As you may know all major domain brokers does not allow listing above $1000 or higher if you don’t have an official appraisal. Since the sale price is not low in our case, my client needs an official certificate of price (appraisal)…..”

  4. Hello!

    Its too late for me!!

    I already paid the appraisal:147euro!! and he was asking for an additional 99euro for some low cost escrow service!!

    I can afford my loss!! by the thing is, I asked my sister to pay for me since my card had no funds, but my question: are the financial info of my sister’s card safe? or they will be using it to take other amounts???

    is there a way to report to the FBI to shut down these con men?

    is there a way to get the money back? because I reported to SWreg.org to get a refund, but I found an email from cs@certifiedappraisal.net, telling me that they paid “the expert” who did the “hand appraisal”, and set up like a movie role between them and the con man, and finally he wrote this to me:

    “””What’s wrong with you? Just switch your brain on. If some people think I earn money on appraisals I don’t care. Did I send you any affiliate links? How can I earn money on the appraisals? Any idea? A lack of technical knowledge make people think such bogus things.
    I’m not interested in making $10 on referring appraisal services. I earn much more money on actual sales. My investors pay me 10%-20% on every sale.

    I earn money on reselling domains. I’m working with many clients all over the world and many of them are happy because I really sell domains. These losers from the forum never sold a single domain for 1000 usd or more.
    All these forums claim I must disappear after you pay for the appraisal. Did I disappear? I’m still here and I’m ready to work with you. You can read bad info about each and every company on forums. Don’t trust forums. Trust facts.”””

    So what do you think guys???

    1. Sorry to hear it, it’s just luck you didn’t get caught up in the next part of the scam, where dodgy lawyer pays $20k with a bad foreign cheque into your account, and asks you to forward his “commission” direct to him, foreign cheques look cleared initially, then a few weeks later they bounce.
      As for your sisters card, I really don’t know, likely they try to keep squeaky clean that side of things, as technically they gave you what you paid for, they wont want to lose that merchant account. It’s really your sisters decision to make though.
      Best way to get these people back is to inform others to watch out for them. Please list all their domain names and contact names here so Google can find them.

  5. I just got an email from this same group of guys. The email originated from office@virtual-space-technologies.info. This domain resolves to ***.vpspace.com.

    This time they are using the name Abram Gendelman and claiming to represent a wealthy investor from Winnipeg Canada. The first email had me suspicious simply because of the hyphenated .info domain it originated from. But I responded anyway. The second email was almost certain it was a scam when they wanted me to pay for an appraisal. So I went hunting and found you guys and a bunch of other scam reports for this same thing. That confirmed it. Glad I did my due diligence.

    Remember, if you’re selling a domain and someone wants to buy it, they’ll pay for the appraisal. It’s just like buying a home. Interested buyers will pay for an appraisal. A seller should never pay for an appraisal requested by a buyer. If you want to get an appraisal before listing something so you have an idea on where to price it, that’s fine. But a legitimate buyer will pay for the appraisal themselves if they want one. Also, ICANN doesn’t certify appraisals.

    Report these people, the sites they use, and let others know about them. I can only imagine how many people they have taken for a ride with this stuff. Do your part to stop them when they try this game on you.

  6. These guys are still playing “the game”. Here’s message i got from office@virtual-space-technologies.info:
    ————————————————————————
    Hello!

    I’m a broker of an investor from Winnipeg (Canada). He wants to buy [DOMAIN-NAME].com.

    My client has $495,000 budget for 45-50 domains. Please specify your asking price in the subject of your message.

    Our company is in a web hosting business. We also provide brokerage services for domain buyers.

    If you have other domains please email me the list with prices. I may offer your domains for sale to my clients.

    How can we transfer money to you (escrow, wire, Paypal or Western Union)?

    I can also help you with the transfer process.

    Best Regards,

    Michael Ritter

    Vice President | Virtual Web Technologies

    Switzerland
    Basel
    Centralbahnstrasse 21
    Phone: 061 259 31 527

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