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question Imposter Afternic listings for domains I own. And weird WHOIS privacy mystery.

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markitzer0

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I got a strange email out of the blue from Namesilo (pasted below) saying that 3 domains I own (and have listed for sale on NS's marketplace for ~$500 each) had been listed by someone on Afternic, where I've never even had an account.

It seems that Afternic, strangely, will pretty much let anyone list any domain name for sale, regardless of whether they actually own it (There's a thread on this form about it, but I can't link to it b/c my acct too new.) Indeed, my 3 domains were shown as "For Sale" on Afternic for around $2,000 each. It's not clear what would have happened had someone actually "bought" them there, since whoever had listed them didn't own/control them. I do. I called Afternic, and rep said they see that from time to time, and he removed the listings.

But here's the mystery that both Afternic and NS reps seemed baffled by, as am I: there were three domains at issue in the attached email, but I have standard WHOIS privacy enabled on all of them. So how could the imposter have known that all 3 were owned by the same person?? It's insanely coincidental that an individual would list 3 of my domains on Afternic when there should be absolutely no evidence linking them as being owned by me (right??) Note that 2 of the 3 domains are alternate spellings of the same name so there's at least a possibility that he could have mentally linked the two...but the 3rd one is completely unrelated in every way: different verbiage, topic, registration date, everything.

So two Q's:
  1. Why does Afternic allow anyone to list domains for sale they don't actually own?
  2. But I'm more concerned with the mystery of how the imposter could possibly have fraudulently listed 3 of my domains when there shouldn't have been any way for him to know they were owned by the same person?? Any theories?
The email from [email protected]:

Hello,
To skip this message and simply accept, please click the link below:

[Namesilo URL]

You are receiving this email as a result of the Afternic listing process being invoked through an Afternic account, on the following domain(s):

  • Domain_1
  • Domain_2
  • Domain_3
A listing on these domain(s) has just been attempted. If you would like to list the domains noted above for sale with Afternic, please visit the link below. Please note that the link below requires you to be logged into your account so if you are not currently logged into your NameSilo account then please first log in before going to the link below.

[Namesilo URL]

If you did not initiate the Afternic listing process of these domain(s) on the Afternic site, please disregard this email. Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information.
 
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But I'm more concerned with the mystery of how the imposter could possibly have fraudulently listed 3 of my domains when there shouldn't have been any way for him to know they were owned by the same person?? Any theories?

You explained how, you listed them on NS marketplace. So someone saw them listed there and fraudulently listed them on AN. They hope to sell on AN at $2k then buy from you at $500.

As for why AN allows that, when people have been complaining about for it years: laziness, incompetence or worse.

https://www.namepros.com/threads/afternic-my-domain-is-already-listed.949430/
https://www.namepros.com/threads/someone-keeps-listing-my-domains-on-afternic.1213508/
https://www.namepros.com/threads/my-alter-names-listed-at-afternic-by-someone-else.1224811/

etc etc etc etc.
 
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If a domain is listed on NameSilo marketplace and is not listed on Afternic - then, earlier or later, other folks will find that they are not listed on Afternic. And will list them. With higher price or makeoffer. Unfortunately, Afternic does not care to check ownership. Moreover, rejecting namesilo fast transfer listing request would not change a lot - the domains will still be listed on Afternic, just without fast transfer.

You may ask Afternic to delete the false listings. After you prove ownership, they will remove them. Naturally, after some time, other folks will re-add them again. So, listing domains via your own afternic account (maybe with cosmic price or makeofer if you do not want to really sell on Afternic) is the only workaround at this time.
 
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markitzer0

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You explained how, you listed them on NS marketplace. So someone saw them listed there and fraudulently listed them on AN.

But there are hundreds of thousands of domains listed for sale in the NS marketplace...it would be coincidental in the extreme (implausible, really) for someone to list three of my domains on the same day (when I've never gotten this type of email notification in 10+ previous years.) The only way this makes sense is if the imposter used some batch process to list tens of thousands of names scraped from the NS marketplace, and just happened to capture 3 of my domains with that process. That's why I wrote that the two domains that are alternate spellings (and reg'd on same date) could be somewhat explained, since I suppose some kind of batch process could capture them in the same bucket. But the 3rd domain -- completely unrelated and registered years later -- is what makes this explanation implausible to me...

They hope to sell on AN at $2k then buy from you at $500.
Interesting. This makes sense (in a perverse way...since you'd think the imposter would only be able to secure the name in a small minority of cases...and one would think that if an Afternic seller kept being unable to deliver domains he "sells" on the platform, they'd boot him in short order.)
 
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markitzer0

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Do you have a Max/BIN set?

Yes, the domains are $500 BIN (with ability to make lower offer). So...I guess that's the "scheme", then? List other people's BIN domains on Afternic for a much higher price, hope they sell, then snap them up for the lower BIN price?

(The listing of several of my privacy-protected domains on the same day still strikes me as quite suspicious...)
 
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Yup I reported this to them (years ago) when I found an account that was adding all my domains and had over 25,000 domains listed for sale with $20,000+ BIN prices. That's why anytime I get an "offer" from Godaddy, I assume they are front-running the listing and want to get the domain for $2000, which is most often their initial offer.
 
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Yes, the domains are $500 BIN (with ability to make lower offer). So...I guess that's the "scheme", then? List other people's BIN domains on Afternic for a much higher price, hope they sell, then snap them up for the lower BIN price?

Yeah. They can just limit to .COM, BIN, $500 max, exclude numbers, hyphens, long names, recently registered and are left with a ~2000 name list to upload to AN. $1500+ profit per name for the seller/scammer, and $400 commission per name for AN just for continuing to do nothing to stop it happening.
 
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markitzer0

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Interesting (and sleazy). So working theory is that the imposter is scraping a bunch of BIN domains from other marketplaces (including NS), uploading them to AN in smaller, possibly randomized batches to avoid detection, and pocketing the difference if they can sell them on AN / scoop on NS for the BIN price?

Assuming that's what's happening, it leaves open one Q: the email I got from Namesilo (in the OP) read: "A listing on these domain(s) has just been attempted. If you would like to list the domains noted above for sale with Afternic, please visit the link below."

But I never clicked on the link. And yet when I checked the AN marketplace, my 3 domains were indeed listed for sale. The email clearly implies that I had to take some affirmative action to confirm the AN listing...yet I never did that, and they were listed anyway. What's going on with that? Does that email get generated every time someone lists a domain on AN? Or only when they try and set up the 'fast transfer' thing?
 

markitzer0

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I have a little more intel: apparently the only reason I received the auto-generated email in the OP from NameSilo was because the imposter tried to list them with the fast transfer option enabled at AN. I don't quite understand what Fast Transfer is, since I don't use AN, but I presume it's something that will result in the domain being transferred instantly out of my NS account and to the AN buyer (if he gets a sale there) rather than me having to push the domains out from within my account.

That begs the question of why the imposter would try and list them with Fast Transfer, knowing it would generate a notification email to the authentic owner of the domain (me)? Wouldn't he have been better off just listing them without Fast Transfer (so I'd never get notified), then manually snapping them up from NS at the BIN price if they sell on AN? Or is he trying to just set everything up such that his scheme runs on autopilot, willing to accept a slightly higher risk he'll be discovered in exchange for getting to be 100% hands-off?

(Thanks for answers so far. I'm very curious in getting to the bottom of this...)
 
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The advantage of FT for a seller/scammer is that FT names get listed on more platforms, theoretically giving them more chance of selling.

The scammer may have chosen that option but not understood it properly, or decided it was worth the risk and that if you're listing a lot of names you're used to receiving and approving such emails (that happens), or maybe they just don't know a confirmation email gets sent out, because half the time it doesn't.

So if they list 2000 names, 25% of people might click the link, 25% might complain and get the names removed like you did, and 50% ignore it/don't see it. 1500 names are still listed and 500 now have fast transfer enabled.

I'd agree the scam probably works better without the FT though, because if they sell the name at AN and legitimately buy it at NS it's kind of a win for everyone and there's no chance of complaints, sales being reversed or legal problems.

The risk for the scammer is they buy the name at NS and for some reason the AN sale falls through, perhaps because the bid was faked by the real owner scamming the scammer into buying their name from NS. :)
 

markitzer0

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"So how could the imposter have known that all 3 were owned by the same person??"

You are only seeing it from your limited point of view so it looks like a mystery. He could've submitted 100k names.

Yes, but I was working under the assumption that he wouldn't risk something that reckless -- what with it being a black-and-white violation of AN's TOS; even if they have no incentive to crack down on this stuff, something that obvious and egregious I would imagine they'd have no choice but to address / discipline the imposter.
 

AEProgram

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Yes, but I was working under the assumption that he wouldn't risk something that reckless

They don't care, it's like the scammers coming here to sell 4l's that are obviously fake but sometimes people fall for it. Like they post "selling tame.com for 1500 dollars payment in btc" and you have domainers posting "SOLD pending mod verification" as if there is a chance that the owner of a name like that came to sell it for 1500. Even now someone reading this post is saying "well, you never know, maybe they need fast money". Some of these scammers act brazen because platforms will think like you, "if this was a scammer would he submit 100k names?"

They are brazen. They call people and tell them if they invest in some coin they will earn 8000%. Shouldn't they be more conservative and offer 25%? The fool that falls for it thinks reverse, if this scammer was lying he wouldn't use such a big number, he must be telling the truth.
 
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Future Sensors

78% of human domainers will be replaced by robots
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@Joe Styler

Afternic is still propagating domains like Health.com and Cash.com to its Premium Network partners.

I urge you to better check your complete inventory and remove bogus listings.

https://www.afternic.com/search?k=health.com&tld=com
https://www.afternic.com/search?k=cash.com&tld=com

https://porkbun.com/checkout/search?q=health.com
https://porkbun.com/checkout/search?q=cash.com

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Future Sensors

78% of human domainers will be replaced by robots
Impact
8,905
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