So, last night I got an interesting email from a certain “Elizabeth Jung” using the email address Domain Broker <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Supposedly, she wanted to buy a domain I owned. Here’s the email in full:
My name is Elizabeth Jung. I work for a hosting provider from Seoul.
I act on the behalf of our client. I will be your broker in this deal.
My commission is 6 %. It is divided between you and the buyer (50%/50%).
Please join my Domain Sales Group in Telegram: https://t.me/BrokerElizabeth Join this group in Telegram messenger and send me a private message (Domain Broker Liza is my nick name). You may also talk to other domain sellers in this group who used my services in the past. You will see it’s a real offer and I have many happy customers.
If you don’t have Telegram please download it on your Smartphone from Google Play or AppStore. Then make search for DomainBrokerElizabeth an
I work with many domain investors from Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Singapore, Egypt etc. If you have other domains I may help you to sell them to my investors.
The buyer owns a big sum in crypto currency who wants to invest in web projects. The buyer offers $35000 USD in Litecoin/Bitcoin or $34000 USD via International wire transfer/Western Union. Do you also own .net and .org version? The buyer would like to buy them too to secure the brand. He is a professional investor and entrepreneur and will use domains to generate traffic to his new project.
The payment to you will be made via escrow service to protect both parties during the transaction. You will get 50% before the domain transfer and 50% after.
To proceed with the sale, the buyer requires certification of compliance with Korean law and trademarks because he will run his startup in South Korea.
The buyer pays good money but he must be sure he will not be sued for using it in his country. He needs an independent certification of compliance with Korean law that proves it can be used in South Korea.
Please don’t worry. If you don’t have it you can order it online. I will help you with instructions and will not leave you along with this.
Please note this is not a SSL certificate. I hope you understand it.
The certification must include the following:
– The certification agency must be certified to verify domains in South Korea.
– Verification of compliance with Korean law and trademarks.- Legal restrictions for his country.
– Independent valuation by market experts.
– The certificate must be up to date (issued during last 30 days).
– Official copy of the verification in English and Korean.
We asked him if GoDaddy and Sedo certificates meet the requirements.
If you are ready to to sell to my client please let me know.
At face value, it does seem like a legit offer. After all, I myself have received email and sent emails to various web domain name owners for domains I was interested in buying or selling. I’ve even email business who might be interested in my domains.
This one though was too good to be true. But what made me quite interested in it was how well they used Psychology to make their email as believable as possible. Here are some ways they used psychology to get in your mind:
- Pretending to be from Seoul, Korea. Everyone trusts South Koreans. This email would be received a bit differently if it were from a certain West African country wouldn’t it?
- Presenting the deal as fair one. Splitting her 6% commission 50% from the buyer / 50% from the seller is actually quite fair. She doesn’t promise to dump gold or riches on your doorstep. Instead, this is a “sensible” deal. This disarms you.
- The “broker” welcomes inquiries to her other “satisfied customers.”
- You are given a choice between “$35000 USD in Litecoin/Bitcoin or $34000 USD via International wire transfer/Western Union.” Of course everyone will choose the USD over the crypto. But by you making that seemingly “smarter” choice, you make yourself more susceptible.
- “Do you also own .net and .org version? The buyer would like to buy them too to secure the brand. ” This plays on what psychologists call your loss aversion. (“Ah too bad I didn’t get the .org and .net all those years back. I knew I should have.”)
- The usage of words like GoDaddy, Google Play and Sedo (top online domain broker), and Telegram which have a high level of trust. These words tries to use trust by association.
- The “broker” acknowledges your intelligence by ensuring you that it is not an SSL certificate. (“Of course I know it’s not an SSL certficate!”) thus making you more susceptible to the statement that comes after (which is their real ruse).
- The “broker” ropes you in by using very legitimate institutions which you perform actions on to commit you further (such as downloading the Telegram App). It works on the sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost fallacy works with time and effort as well. Since you already committed some effort to download the app, you’re more likely to continue the transaction.
- When you do check out the Telegram its a fake group where people give their “social confirmation” thanking the “broker” for her services. Of course, Telegram is used by protesters in places Hong Kong precisely because it’s not traceable.
I guess there are a lot of red flags you and some other Psywar tactics to get into your head. But by now you probably have guessed what they are really interested is selling their “certifications”.
Are they really just interested to see whether you go buy their fake Korean certifications?
I’m not sure, I never went that far. But if you are interested you should check them out. Anyway, till next time. I have to do a Western Union transfer to a business partner from a city in West Africa. I can’t tell you a lot about it but it’s something about claiming the money in the bank account of a recently deceased prince. Boy! Once this business deal pushes through, an early retirement doesn’t sound so bad. Now, what to do with all that money.