If you have a domain name of value posted for sale, you no doubt dream about the day you receive a message from someone interested in buying. Then one day, it finally happens. Someone contacts you expressing interest. They’re willing to pay you top dollar for your domain and they seem truly serious about purchasing. All they need is for you to have the site appraised first. Then the two of you can continue negotiations and finalize the deal.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it probably is. That interested buyer willing to pay you top dollar for your domain might be perpetrating something known as the domain name appraisal scam and if you’re not in the know, you could easily wind up joining thousands of other victims.
How Does the Scam Work?
The scene for the scam is usually set exactly as touched on above. The seller of the domain name receives an e-mail expressing interest in a given domain (and possibly in any others the person may have for sale). Upon responding to the inquiry, the seller than receives a second e-mail requiring a professional appraisal. A link is oh so conveniently provided to a site where such an appraisal can be performed.
The link connects the seller to a fraudulent service, of course. The seller pays the money required, but then never receives the appraisal they purchased. At that point, the person who was so interested in buying the domain in the first place conveniently seems to have vanished. Don’t let this happen to you.
Getting an Accurate Appraisal
Inexperienced domain name sellers are easy marks for this particular scam because they’re not familiar with how the value of a domain is really determined. They assume that it’s similar to assessing the value of a car, home, piece of jewelry, or any physical item that can be said to have value. However, it’s not as black and white as all that when it comes to something intangible like a web domain.
Any number of people could be interested in a given domain for just as many reasons. One may want to purchase it to keep their competition from getting it. Others may be looking at it as an investment, while still more people may want it because they see vast potential for actual development. This makes it difficult to apply a set price that will be accurate according to all of these purposes and more.
If you do decide you’d like to have your domain appraised for reasons of your own, it’s important to go to a professional domain broker. They’ll assess the domain based on various factors, including liquidity, timing, and urgency as they relate to your own goals as the seller. However, you yourself can also get a pretty good idea of what you can expect your domain to be worth by researching what past domains that are similar have gone for.
Separating Legitimate Buyers from Scammers
Keep in mind that the vast majority of buyers that are truly serious about buying a domain name will never expect the seller to provide an appraisal. The same goes for domain brokers that are trustworthy and reliable. Serious buyers don’t need you (or anyone else) to tell them what the domain they want could be worth to them. They already know because they’ve done their own research into the matter before ever contacting you.
If you’re concerned about making sure you get a good price for your domain, you might want to facilitate your sale through a good domain broker, as they can handle certain aspects of the negotiation process for you. They’ll also likely be more experienced and knowledgeable than you will be if you’re new to the game. Just make sure you choose someone with a solid reputation, a good track record for success, and options for doing business that meet your individual needs.
At the end of the day, e-business of all types comes along with scams to be avoided. Make sure that the scammers behind the domain name appraisal scam don’t make you their next victim.