Fishy domain sale/purchase - plse help!

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Atco

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Dear All,

it's my first time to purchase a domain 2nd hand, and it's for $xx,xxx at the first time! Which is a lot of money for me, good portion of my savings, but this will be important to invest in the business I'm planning to do as I lost my job recently (this is for background only, plse focus on the issues no need tell me that I shouldn't spend too much money on a domain, as I already know that:)

Ok found a good domain for sale, agreed on the price, and we're at closing. but it's getting a bit fishy so I thought I'll post the story here for everyone to see if you guys have the same odd feelings. I've used substitute names to protect privacy, but the story applies.

So far:
- We agreed via email, sent funds $xx,xxx to escrow.com. I opened a Moniker account to accept the push, and sent my Moniker Account Number and my Current Authorisation Code to the seller as per Moniker policy.
- Received confirmation that domain name valuabledomain.com (I'm using a substitute name, for illustration) was pushed to my Moniker account
- Seller called to ask me to release the $xx,xxx right now, urgently, and immediately from escrow.com. Which made me feel a bit uneasy, since we agreed to 5 days inspection period.

However, I discovered a few odd things:

1. In the past hour, I received three separate Moniker confirmations: one from Moniker (no order number) and two others forwarded by the Seller, which two had distinct order numbers: xxxxx49 and xxxxx22 respectively. Also the email address on the forwarded confirmation was info@wellnames.com (this is what was used for communication) while the registrant's original email is different info@buycoolnames.com.

Does anyone know why we have two order numbers for the same transaction with Moniker? Is it allowed to use different email addresses for the order, than the registrant email?

2. It appears that the registrant name was changed from "Name Premium, BuyCooNames.com" yesterday to "Ali al-Sahhah" earlier today and email updated too (I'm using substitute names to illustrate the point) with the same physical address at first sight, only later did I discover that only the postcode(!) is different. Then, later in the day valuabledomain.com was pushed to my Moniker account.

Do you guys think it's fine to update the registrant details twice within 3 days? Will it not impede my rights to ownership? thought there was a 60 day rule of some kind..

3. Escrow.com shows "Ajebah al-Sahhah" as seller, which is slightly confusing, as the registrant was "Name Premium, BuyCoolNames.com" before- until earlier today, when the registrant name was changed to "Kamil al-Sahhah", same London address, new postcode. Then, later today the domain valuabledomain.com was pushed to my account.

Is there a trick here, or can the seller update the registrant details on the day of the sale, and still make it valid? Can it be different for escrow.com and the registry?

4. I agreed everything by email with "Ben" at the new email address info@wellnames.com, but the domain registrant had been "Name Premium, BuyCoolNames.com" until today, with email address info@buycoolnames.com. To make matters even more complicated, a third person "Ajebah al-Sahhah" shows up as seller in escrow.com. On the phone, I spoke with a person called "Ali al-Sahhah" (as apprently only he speaks English) who was trying to push me to release the funds today.

Is there anyone else who finds this confusing?

5. Is there a way to check that I have ownership and "complete control" of valuabledomain.com (and not only the registrant contact details were updated)?

6. Do I need to obtain a username, password, and/or an authorization code to verify that I have complete control of the domain?

7. Is there anything else I can do to verify that I have complete control of the domain, and to ensure a clean transaction, and maximise security? Would buying a MaxLock from Moniker, or sthng similar help?

The seller is trying to tell me that this is all normal, but I have my doubts. After all these, I am a bit hesitant to go ahead, and I'm considering pulling out, asking the seller to close via Moniker.com's escrow service or sthng. It will mean a few hundred dollars of sunk cost (transfers, escrow, etc) but still better than making a $xx,xxx mistake.

What do you think? Or is it just me being too suspicions?

Plse advise...
Thanks!
 
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untitled

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Well, I would first cover the basics.

1) Do not open any links if you find any e-mails fishy, as they may lead you to a fake login site.
2) On your own, open up Moniker and see if the domain is in your account.
3) Why don't you call Moniker and confirm that the domain was indeed successfully transferred?
4) After all has confirmed, you can update your account details, and wait an extra day just to make sure everything is in order.

Possible scams that often happen:

1) You pay Escrow. Seller changes whois information to someone else's or even yours, then tells Escrow that domain has been pushed. Either Escrow.com or you confirms transactions, bye bye money.
2) You pay Escrow. Seller sends fake confirmation letters letting you know "you received your domain". You confirm transaction, bye bye money.
3) You pay Escrow. Seller sends fake confirmation letter, you log in using the link in their letter to double check, link leads you to a fake site, you log in, seller steals your account or if he's very crafty, steals both Domain and money.

Or it just may be a seller that's nervous about the sale and needs the money. Some people are just worried that buyers will back out of big deals. But still, there is no reason for you to rush, since the agreed time was 5 days.

Hope this helps. Update us on your progress.
 

Atco

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3) Why don't you call Moniker and confirm that the domain was indeed successfully transferred?
4) After all has confirmed, you can update your account details, and wait an extra day just to make sure everything is in order.

Possible scams that often happen:

1) You pay Escrow. Seller changes whois information to someone else's or even yours, then tells Escrow that domain has been pushed. Either Escrow.com or you confirms transactions, bye bye money.
2) You pay Escrow. Seller sends fake confirmation letters letting you know "you received your domain". You confirm transaction, bye bye money.
3) You pay Escrow. Seller sends fake confirmation letter, you log in using the link in their letter to double check, link leads you to a fake site, you log in, seller steals your account or if he's very crafty, steals both Domain and money.

Is it possible that there is a fourth one
4) Buyer pays Escrow. Seller transfers the domain, which is now in the buyer's control. Buyer releases funds, and a week later the "old" domain registrant claims the domain was stolen.

What would happen in this instance? Would it be enough to receive an email from the old email address, confirming that both the old and new email address belongs to the same entity, and the sale of the domain name is therefore legit?

Thank for the tip to update data, I'll do it right away just to be sure.
 

untitled

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Don't update the data until you confirm with Moniker that the domain has been transferred successfully. As Escrow.com will detect the Whois change and they will update the transaction as the domain has been transferred.

I haven't ran into the 4) scenario. But since Escrow.com has nothing to do with the transfer itself, that would depend on the registrar.
 

south

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Did the seller contact you, or did you find the domain, then make contact?

If you're concerned, and it sounds rightfully so, you should pick up the phone & call escrow.com & tell them your concerns about releasing the funds prematurely. And then call moniker, and ask them how long the seller has had the domain in their account, if they have been a longtime customer, and is trustworthy. Oh, and PM Acro the name if you haven't already. :)
 

Atco

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Did the seller contact you, or did you find the domain, then make contact?

I found the domain, and then made contact. It was advertised on various sites concurrently.
 

Atco

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Update

1. In the past hour, I received three separate Moniker confirmations: one from Moniker (no order number) and two others forwarded by the Seller, which two had distinct order numbers: xxxxx49 and xxxxx22 respectively. Also the email address on the forwarded confirmation was info@wellnames.com (this is what was used for communication) while the registrant's original email is different info@buycoolnames.com.

Does anyone know why we have two order numbers for the same transaction with Moniker? Is it allowed to use different email addresses for the order, than the registrant email?

Just called support at Moniker, they confirmed that duplicate order numbers can happen. It appears that updating the domain contact details is normal, from what they can see it's legitimate. Solved.

2. It appears that the registrant name was changed from "Name Premium, BuyCooNames.com" yesterday to "Ali al-Sahhah" earlier today and email updated too (I'm using substitute names to illustrate the point) with the same physical address at first sight, only later did I discover that only the postcode(!) is different. Then, later in the day valuabledomain.com was pushed to my Moniker account.

Do you guys think it's fine to update the registrant details twice within 3 days? Will it not impede my rights to ownership? thought there was a 60 day rule of some kind..

seems like the 60 day rule is only for transferring from one registrar to the other. Moniker confirmed that I'm the owner so all good. Solved.

3. Escrow.com shows "Ajebah al-Sahhah" as seller, which is slightly confusing, as the registrant was "Name Premium, BuyCoolNames.com" before- until earlier today, when the registrant name was changed to "Kamil al-Sahhah", same London address, new postcode. Then, later today the domain valuabledomain.com was pushed to my account.

Is there a trick here, or can the seller update the registrant details on the day of the sale, and still make it valid? Can it be different for escrow.com and the registry?

Asked the original registrant to indicate his consent. Waiting for response.

4. I agreed everything by email with "Ben" at the new email address info@wellnames.com, but the domain registrant had been "Name Premium, BuyCoolNames.com" until today, with email address info@buycoolnames.com. To make matters even more complicated, a third person "Ajebah al-Sahhah" shows up as seller in escrow.com. On the phone, I spoke with a person called "Ali al-Sahhah" (as apprently only he speaks English) who was trying to push me to release the funds today.

Is there anyone else who finds this confusing?

according to Moniker, the update was normal it's a good client so I shouldn't be worried. They also see something about the update which shows that it was just a technical update. Just to be sure, I asked the original registrant to indicate his consent. Waiting for response.

5. Is there a way to check that I have ownership and "complete control" of valuabledomain.com (and not only the registrant contact details were updated)?

managed to edit on the Moniker site. Solved.

6. Do I need to obtain a username, password, and/or an authorization code to verify that I have complete control of the domain?

I was told that if I opened my own account, then this is not needed. Solved.

7. Is there anything else I can do to verify that I have complete control of the domain, and to ensure a clean transaction, and maximise security? Would buying a MaxLock from Moniker, or sthng similar help?

I bought a MaxLock just to be sure. Open to more ideas.
 

Bill F.

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You still might want to be sure that the name has not been stolen. If that were the case, the seller would want to rush payment before the lawful owner discovers the theft. A change of registrant just before the sale to you should raise a red flag. If you tell someone the name (Acro or anyone), they could check the history. Don't expect Moniker to watch your back - they are not the most competent bunch on the block.
 

Atco

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You still might want to be sure that the name has not been stolen. If that were the case, the seller would want to rush payment before the lawful owner discovers the theft. A change of registrant just before the sale to you should raise a red flag. If you tell someone the name (Acro or anyone), they could check the history. Don't expect Moniker to watch your back - they are not the most competent bunch on the block.

Good thinking. Thanks!
 

Atco

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Escrow.com is cooperative, they'll not release the monies until everything is confirmed. According to escrow.com "The seller has an excellent, long- standing track record with Escrow.com. You should not have any problems with this seller."

Good news, at last!

Just to be sure, I guess I'll wait for the old owner's consent anyhow, and perhaps run a whois update, before releasing the monies. But I like nightmare scenarios, so if you can think of other scams, plse shoot.
 

JuniperPark

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I'm pretty cynical, but this looks like a probably legit transaction.

The "inspection period" is intended only as the time needed to get the domain into the buyer account, which is immediately in the case of a push. The inspection period really should not be a "stall for time in case it's stolen" device, although stolen domains are always a concern.
 

Gerry

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I think it is legit as well. Good to question the repetitive changes. Definitely have some help from member Acro. He's good at discovery and uncovering details or screwy going ons.


Best of luck.
 

Atco

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Update:

Just received a response from the original registrant's email, it's the new registrant (before the push) so it appears they're the same entity indeed. But he's still an impatient pushy bully.. he repeated like 4 times "pay now" in various forms, which I don't appreciate as we agreed to 5 days.

Will update the whois, see how it appears, then wait for the dust to settle. If you have other thoughts in the meantime, I'd highly appreciate it.

Thanks!
 
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WhoDatDog

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Seemed like trouble when I first read it. I don't like the way this seller operates. This is real money. After seeing that Escrow.com said that the seller has a great history, that changed things a bit; however, it is not beyond reason to imagine a hacked Escrow.com account, too.

Your questions are legit. Take as many days as you need to make 100 percent sure everything checks out. The seller can wait, and he deserves it for making you nervous with his unnecessary and suspicious maneuvers.
 

untitled

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From another stand point, sometimes sellers do get pushy because,after all, they transfer their property out directly to you, not to escrow. While your money is safely in their account (escrow). So they may be worried that you can be up to something as well. But watch out for your own butt first.
 

Atco

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Update


Seller wrote "If you dont enter your Escrow account and not accept that you received valuebledomain.com until today 6 PM UK time,
We will report this to Moniker."


Does he imply that he's an insider to Moniker, that that he can access my account, and take the name back anytime he likes (even after the sale)? He doesn't say that explicitly, but I feel he's trying to imply sthng.

Scary..
 

Theo

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Does he imply that he's an insider to Moniker, that that he can access my account, and take the name back anytime he likes (even after the sale)? He doesn't say that explicitly, but I feel he's trying to imply sthng.

Scary..

It implies that you didn't read the FAQ. Not to mention that I sense a buyer's remorse here.

If Escrow.com went to the extreme of assuring you the seller's history is outstanding - and they don't do that to everyone that just so happened to open an account - then take it for what it is.
 

katherine

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I fully understand your reservations.
We are in a price range that justifies extended due diligence. Past ownership changes must be investigated. Wait for Acro to come back to you with results.

You know, before even agreeing to the sale I would have asked for a phone number (not virtual/skypein) and called the seller.
In fact it's not too late to do that. See how he will react.
 

Theo

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Due diligence is performed before an agreement is reached. But you can always terminate Escrow at your expense (not sure what the FAQ states).
 
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