Chinese Domain Name Registration Scams

In the middle of December 2012 an individual in China calling himself simply “John” attempted to scare me into registering the .asia, .cn, .com.cn, .net.cn and .org.cn versions of my website’s address using a Chinese Domain Name Scam. The individual responsible is almost certainly one Pan Xiaohong of Shanghai, who failed to convince me to purchase a single thing from him.

Chinese Domain Name Scams

Too Long; Didn’t Read?

    1. It’s a scam
    2. Delete it
    3. There’s no need to register these domain names through your usual registrar
    4. If you ask your usual registrar they will probably use FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) to encourage you to spend money with them as most registrars are not much better than these scammers

The Long Version…

Here’s an email I received before Christmas from info@ygnetworksit.com:

Dear Manager,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China. We received an application from BaoYuan Ltd on December 17, 2012. They want to register ” squelchdesign ” as their internet keyword and China/Asia (CN/ASIA) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards

John
General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951
Fax: +86 216191 8697
Web: www.ygnetworkit.com

An odd email; Lots of broken English and things that don’t entirely make sense if you know anything about my company, but then it could be from a legitimate source that simply hasn’t taken the time to find out more about the company. I figured it had to be suspect, but gave them the benefit of the doubt to see where this was heading:

Hello John,

I’m not 100% sure I am understanding your question fully. BaoYuan are in no way associated with Squelch Design, today is the first time I heard the name.

Yes there would be a conflict if they go ahead and register squelchdesign.cn; Squelch Design does not actively operate in China, but is happy to accept custom from all over the world. I believe registering a company in China with the same name would cause brand confusion and erosion and, given that I went to great lengths to find a name that was not already in use, and having invested a great deal of time and money into Search Engine Optimisation, registering a similarly named website would be very poor etiquette. As far as I can tell BaoYuan are in the chemical/packing materials industry, so it strikes me as odd that they would want to register “squelchdesign” as a domain.

Many thanks,
Matt Lowe

Three days later I got a response. Not from John, but from Lin JianFa – supposedly an employee of BaoYuan – yet using the address jianfa.lin@yahoo.cn:

Dear Sirs,

Our company has submitted the “squelchdesign ” as CN/Asia domain name and Internet Keyword, we are waiting for Mr. John’s approval. We think this name is very important for our products in Chinese and Asian market. Even though Mr. John advises us to change another name, we will persist in this name.

Best regards

Lin JianFa

Immediately I smelt a rat, the style of the speech was absolutely identical to John’s, as was the formatting and with similar incorrect usage of punctuation. I’ve seen this before when I baited a Nigerian 419 scammer a few years back. The fact that this employee of the company was using a Yahoo address was just plain wrong. So far they’d set the scene: They’d heavily implied someone was going to take my company name and start using it, creating brand confusion, but they’d not yet presented a way to get money out of me. So, I carried on playing along:

Lin,

I believe that if you persist in using the name squelchdesign.cn you will only confuse my customers and yours, making it more difficult for my customers to find my website. May I ask what services/business your company would be doing with the name?

Many thanks,
Matt Lowe

That was the last I heard from Lin. John, however, did send me more emails:

Dear Matt ,

Based on your company having no relationship with them, we have suggested they should choose another name to avoid this conflict but they insist on this name as CN/Asia domain names (.asia and .cn and .com.cn and .net.cn and .org.cn) and internet keyword on the internet. In our opinion, maybe they do the similar business as your company and register it to promote his company.
According to the domain name registration principle: The domain names and internet keyword which applied based on the international principle are opened to companies as well as individuals. Any companies or individuals have rights to register any domain name and internet keyword which are unregistered. Because your company haven’t registered this name as CN/ASIA domains and internet keyword on the internet, anyone can obtain them by registration. However, in order to avoid this conflict, the trademark or original name owner has priority to make this registration in our audit period. If your company is the original owner of this name and want to register these CN/ASIA domain names (.asia and .cn and .com.cn and .net.cn and .org.cn) and internet keyword to prevent anybody from using them, please inform us. We can send an application form and the price list to you and help you register these within dispute period.

Kind regards

John
General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951
Fax: +86 216191 8697
Web: www.ygnetworkit.com

Note the good cop/bad cop thing that he has going on with Lin; He’s doing me a favour by telling me they want to encroach on my company’s name.

The guys over at TechRepublic received an incredibly similar email back in 2009. Over at HoaxSlayer other people have reported, pretty much word for word, the exact same emails I have shown here. Even Wikipedia has an article on this scam. But I carried on playing along, curious to see how much he wanted to fleece me for:

Hi John,

How long is the dispute period?

Many thanks,
Matt Lowe

 

Dear Matt ,

The checking time will be over soon, we have not received your reply about the domain name and internet keyword since our last communication. You must know domain name takes open registration, this is international domain name registration principle. So the company has right to register them. As a domain name registrar, we have no right to refuse their application. We aslo suggest this company should change another name but they stick to this name so if your company want to prevent anybody from using these domains, the only way is to register these CN/ASIA domains and internet keyword. In our checking time, your company has first priority to register them. Could you tell us whether your company want to make this application to prevent anybody from using them or not?

Best Regards

John

 

Hi John,

Thanks for the reply. How much would it cost?

Many thanks,
Matt Lowe

And now, the moment of truth:

Dear Matt:

Thanks for your reply. If you would like to protect by yourself and according to our checking progress,
we will send an application blank to you. After you fill in it, you need to send it back to us. When we
received you information we will overrule their application and register for you in one day. And the
registration fee for CN domain is 38.8 USD year, ASIA domain is 36.6 USD per year, internet keyword
is 148 USD per year. If you want to protect yourself, I am very glad to help you. Right now, the checking
is going to the end, please reply in two working days.

Have a nice day .

Best Regards

John

So back in his first email he suggested BaoYuan wanted to register squelchdesign.asia, squelchdesign.cn, squelchdesign.com.cn, squelchdesign.net.cn, squelchdesign.org.cn, and the internet keyword “squelchdesign”. That’s one .asia, four .cn domains, and one Internet keyword. That comes to a total of $339.80 USD or approximately £214.

The moral of the story is if you get an email from China (or anywhere else for that matter) warning you that someone is trying to muscle in on your business’s name, be very careful. Very very careful indeed. Here’s the registration details for the scammer’s company:

pan xiaohong
lichenfang@zjedu.org
tel: 13661529704
fax: 02162961557
shanghaixingqunandanlu
shanghai,shanghai,CN
200010

I’m 99% sure that “John” is a fictitious character and that Pan Xiaohong is in fact the perpetrator. So maybe if you get an email from this John character, maybe try replying with “Hi Pan”, and see what happens? ;) Take care of your businesses guys.


Update 28/08/2013

The comments section below is getting pretty long as more and more people find this blog and send in the emails they received. As such I’m going to try and summarise the information in the comments below.

You might get emails from any of the following companies: YIGUAN, YIGUDNS, YIGUTEK, YGITECH or the domain names www.ygnetworkit.com, www.yiguannetwork.com, www.yigudns.com, www.yigutek.com, www.ygitech.com, www.cnygregistry.net, www.ygregistryltd.net, www.ygasia.org, www.ygcompany.org, pxisp.net or des-registry.org.
They might use one of the following names: John, Jim, Terry Tang, Peter Cheng, James Zhang, Simon Cheng, Gary Zhang, Mika Cao, Lan Du, Lex Ren, Jim Ying, Bill Cheng, Mark Wong or Abby Wang.
They might claim that the company attempting to register the domain is: BaoYuan Ltd, Weisheng company, Weisheng Holdings Ltd, Taisheng Limited, PengCheng Trading Co. Ltd, Huasheng Ltd, Huafeng Ltd or Kenpoco Ltd. Note that some, perhaps even all, of these companies are legitimate Asian companies and the scammers are simply using their names to try and give credibility to their claims.
You might be contacted by someone claiming to be from one of the companies above, usually using a Yahoo or Hotmail email address rather than a legitimate business address: Lin JianFa, Warren Chiou, Darren Chiou or Jiang Zhifa.

If you received an email with slightly different wording or from a different company then please feel free to post it in the comments section below so I can update the blog and we can all stay one step ahead of the scam.

About Matt Lowe

Matt Lowe is a WordPress web designer / developer based in Newbury, Berkshire. After 8 years of doing the nine-to-five for other companies and watching them make the same mistakes over and over he set out in business on his own, forming Squelch Design to help businesses get online and make money.

972 comments on “Chinese Domain Name Registration Scams

  1. Dear Ian Shipley,

    We have already advised them to choose another name according to your company that have no relationship with them, but they insist on this name as China domain names (jhminibreaks.cn, jhminibreaks.com.cn, jhminibreaks.net.cn, jhminibreaks.org.cn) and internet keyword. In our opinion, maybe they do the similar business as your company then register it to promote his company.

    As is known to all, domain name registration based on the international principle is opened to company and individual. Any company or individual have the right to register any domain name and internet keyword which are unregistered. Your company haven’t registered this name as China domains and internet keyword, so anyone is able to obtain them by registration. But in order to avoid this conflict, the trademark or original name owner have priority to register China domain name and internet keyword during our review period. If your company is the original owner of this name and want to register these China domain names (jhminibreaks.cn, jhminibreaks.com.cn, jhminibreaks.net.cn, jhminibreaks.org.cn) and internet keyword to prevent anybody from using them, please inform us. We can send you an application form with price list to help your company register these China domains and internet keyword during our review period.

    Best Regards,
    Edward Liu | Service & Operations Manager
    Asia Registry (Head Office) | 3005, Jinxuan Building, No. 238 Nandan Road, Shanghai 200030, China
    Tel: +86-2161918696 | Fax: +86-2161918697 | Mob: +86-13816428671
    Email: edward@asiaregistry.org
    Web: www . asiaregistry . org

    This email contains privileged and confidential information intended for the addressee only. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy this email and inform the sender immediately. We appreciate you respecting the confidentiality of this information by not disclosing or using the information in

    Dear Ian Shipley,
    Hope this email finds you well.
    The review period will be over soon but we have not heard from you since our last comunication. Anyone can obtain CN domains (jhminibreaks.cn, jhminibreaks.com.cn, jhminibreaks.net.cn, jhminibreaks.org.cn) and internet keyword by registration because your company haven’t registered this name as CN domains and internet keyword on the internet. You must know the domain names and internet keyword based on the international principle are opened to company as well as individual. Also, we have suggested they should choose another name but they insist on this name. As a domain name registrar, we have no rights to refuse their application if they insist. In this situation, we have told your company have priority to register China domain name and internet keyword during our review period. Could you tell us whether or not your company want to register these CN domain names and internet keyword to prevent anyone from using them?
    Kind regards
    Edward Liu

    31/10/2016 0930hrs

    I’ve asked my friend Edward how much………… next instalment to follow soon.

    • I’ve just noticed the telephone number in the e mail in the previous post to mine are the same. However, it
      would appear that Asia Registry (Head Office) and CN Web registry are the same place….Ooops??

  2. I have recieved the same 2016 email for my website . Your article was really useful and opened my eyes a lot

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