Search Engine registration email scam

This is an INSIDIOUS semi-phishing / semi-scammy piece of work.

Within three days of registering a new client’s domain with GoDaddy, she received the following notice:

On Wednesday, September 17, 2014 5:32 AM, Domain Registration (admin wrote:

Hi there (Whois Registrant’s name)

Domain Name:  (Account # xxxxx )

This email is being sent out to you because search registration for is pending.

Please register these domains to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo ASAP to avoid late fees.

Registering for search engines would help you show up in search results and increase your online presence.

You can register your domain at: here (http: // /link.php)

We sincerely appreciate your business! If you require anything, we are at your service.

Remember… If you do not register your domain with the search engines, it may not appear in the search engine listing when people are looking for you. Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may make it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web. Complete your search engine registration today at: (http: //


Search Engine Registry 
1787 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 1025
Washington DC, 20006

You may unsubscribe (http: // here


There are several things wrong with this email:

  1. First of all, you don’t need to pay for search engine registration. Unless you’re paying someone for their time to do it for you. Or, possibly, if you decide to partake in some sort of advertising campaign with search engine results placement, such as Google AdWords, but, technically, that’s advertising, not registration.

  2. The links provided are misleading. The link for links to a server called “” — which I didn’t click on, BUT I found someone who did and describes his experience. See Matthew Lowe’s blog entry Search Engine Scams. Make a “note to self” that you will never, ever click on a misleading link.

  3. Only the “Registrant” receives the email. Another interesting note is that the notice is only sent to the name of the person who is listed as the “Registrant” on the domain name registration. There are three other contacts you enter when registering a domain: Administrator, Technical and Billing. Most folks have someone else (aka “web-savvy professional”) as the Administrator and/or Technical contacts. The fact that these two “action people” — likely the one who set-up and does the actual work on the website — are not contacted, is a red flag to me. The scammers are trying to contact and confuse the (most likely) least-knowledgeable person (Registrant) with their registration scam.

You’ve been warned!

Make it a best practice to double check such emails. The first thing I do is to search Google (or such) for the domain name and the word “scam.” Make sure not to just plug the URL into your browser’s ‘multi-function’ bar, but go to the search engine’s home page. Otherwise, you may end up on the nefarious site, and who know what may happen.

Remember, trust your gut. If something seems fishy, it probably is.