Internet scams and frauds claiming that you have one lottery for an astronomical amount or that a stranger is willing to share few million $ with you are not new. Such fraudulent emails have become a part of our online lives. I receive such emails every alternate day and I faithfully guide them to trash can. But the scam I am going to discuss is novel in its approach. Rather than promising any freebies, it targets your hard work and knowledge by taking your website domain as hostage. This is completely new internet copyright dispute and domain registration scam.
As many of you might be aware, I run a small consulting website www.aac-india.com . I get decent number of visitors with tons of queries. I try to answer them to the best of my knowledge. Everything was going well and out of the blue I received email mentioned below:
Subject: RE: Urgent Inquire aac-india (about trademark)
We are an organization specialized in dealing with Internet Copyright dispute and registration in Asia.
On April,16, 2013, a named "Haoxiao Investment Co" company submitted an application to our company for registering these top level domains:
Whether you consigned this company to register these top level domains, or are they your subbranch?
Because these domain name may relate to the use of trademark. I hope you can give me a reply as soon as possible.
Manager of Auditing Department
Now, if I was a very smart person, I would have called the bluff from the language and grammar of this email. But I panicked initially and replied to him as given below:
Thank you for informing me about this development. I hereby declare that I am no way related to "Haoxiao Investment Co" nor have I authorized them to register any domains.
I guess Mr. John King is not one of those scamsters to give up easily. He shot me another email mentioned below:
Thanks for your reply. If you have not consigned with them, according to our working experience, there are 2 possibilities for your reference:
1. That company may be a domain investment company; they want to register these names before you and sell its back to you to gain profits.
2. It may be a commercial method, that company is consigned by your competitor to register these domains and confuse your clients.
Domain takes open registration according to the international registration principle,So that company has right to register it. As a domain registrar, we herewith are required to inform your company to protect your interest by our government.
As the owner of "aac-india.com", you have the priority to register these domains. Of course, each company has its own idea. If you don't think their application will affect your company, you can give up, and we will finish their registration. But, if you think their registration will confuse your clients and harm your profits, we can help you protect and register these domains within dispute period. This is the only way to prevent domain from being grabbed. Hope you can give me your decision ASAP, so that we can handle the next step.
John King /*Note his designation disappears*/
He gave away his game when he expressed that he was way too concerned for my domain and my money. He was interested in my money for sure, but he wanted it in his pocket rather than mine. By now I had got over panic attack and it was time to start having fun. There we go:
Whoever they are, let them have fun. I am not interested in buying these additional domains. Thank you once again.
Mr. John King, full marks to you for your persistence. Here he gets back:
If that is the case, we'll help them complete registration in the near future.As for any results caused, we won't bear any legal responsibilities.
Now, words like legal and responsibilities are enough to scare a normal Indian on their own, but when clubbed together, they seem like ‘Qayāmat’ (the day of judgment). So I hit him back with his weapon:
I am ok with legal responsibilities as Indian jurisdiction or that of International Court of Justice (The Hague, Netherlands) would apply. It should give me a great opportunity to practice my legal skills. I just completed my Masters in International Law from University of Washington and got my attorney’s license. Kindly get me contact details of legal representative(s) of concerned entity.
With that bombshell, I don't think Mr. John King is going to reply any time soon. And in case it does, it would be a great opportunity to travel to Europe :D