Domain Registry of America are now emailing highly misleading emails too

One of our customers, thankfully got in contact today (before it was too late), in relation to a new scam by the Domain Registry of America, as follows:

—–Original Message—–
From: Transfer and Renewal Support [mailto:transfers@droa.com]
Sent: 06 August 2009 09:04
To: domain-email@headmassage.com
Subject: TT0, headmassage.com;
Order # 1686111

Hello John Smith,

The transfer and renewal of your domain name, headmassage.com is not yet complete at this time.

Reason:
——-
1) The Domain name is currently in a “REGISTRAR-LOCK” status with your current registrar 1&1 INTERNET AG
2) We require that you provide us with an EPP Key/Authorization Code from your current registrar In order to complete the transfer and renewal, the “REGISTRAR-LOCK” status needs to be removed and an EPP Key/Authorization code needs to be obtained. Please see below for instructions on achieving this.

Solution:
———
– Log into your account with your current registrar, and change the status of your domain, headmassage.com, from “locked” to “active”.
– Then look for the EPP Key or Authorization Code.

Alternate Solution:
———
– Call your current registrar, 1&1 INTERNET AG (see phone number below) and ask them to remove the lock status of your domain name, give you your EPP Key, and allow the transfer to Domain Registry of America.
– Once done please notify us that you have done so, by clicking on the link below, or calling our toll-free number below.
https://namejuice.com/agree.asp?e=1&o=1686111&p=3110111

We will then re-attempt the transfer and renewal of your domain name.

As a convenience, we have supplied your current registrars phone number below.
Domain: headmassage.com
Current Registrar: 1&1 INTERNET AG
Registrar Phone Number: Please visit their site to contact them

Transfer Department
Domain Registry of America
Toll free 1-866-434-0212 or for International Callers, dial +1(905)479-2533

8/6/2009
4:04:11 AM

—–End Message—–

All the information they’d included in the email, had come from the publicly accessible ‘WhoIs’ information. The above email, was the first our client had received from DRoA, after absolutely no action from the client!

DRoA have been around since around 2001, misleading people, conning people, and overcharging people, etc.

For many years, these had been in the form of a highly misleading ‘invoice’ that would arrive in the post, with an American flag on the envelope, and an American reply address (even though they’re a Canadian company), warning domain owners that they must renew their domain immediately, otherwise it will be lost, and using various scare tactics about what could happen when their domain is lost (these letters would normally go out, around 4 months before the domain was due to come up for renewal anyway).

Once you then replied to the letter, asking them to ‘renew it’ (as many people did, thinking they were linked to your normal registrar, etc.), they’d control your domain, charge around 5 times the normal annual price to renew it each year, and charge an even bigger release fee, to get the domain back to any other reputable domain registrar!

After countless complaints, thankfully their postal letters changed to be slightly less misleading. However, I now discover they’ve moved to emails instead!

I couldn’t believe the audacity of the above email (the client’s information has been removed for data protection, and the domain name has been changed in this email for confidentiality).

Thankfully, this was stopped before the transfer could be completed.

Surprisingly, although the domain was hosted with 1&1, nothing had been changed with it apart from some new web-forwarding within the 1&1 control panel, so either DRoA were very lucky in their timing, or they have an automated system, looking out for significant changes to the forwarding of good domain names!