Domain Registry of America Scam

This post is a warning for anyone with a Web site. I received a deceptive notice yesterday from Domain Registry of America (DRoA). See image below. It made me so angry that I had to write this post about DRoA. The notice came by snail mail in an envelope with my correct name and address–which really ticked me off–and included a return envelope for payment. The notice looks like a bill and was written to scare me into changing my domain name registry: “You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web, and now is the time to transfer and renew your name from your current Registrar to the Domain Registry of America. Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identify…”

I went to the Web site given in the letter: to find that the company offers “free” Web hosting for the lifetime of your domain. Free indeed! You can register your domain for only $30 for a year, with the rate adjusted to save if you sign up for three to five years. It is a scam. A scam that 50,000 Canadians fell prey to in 2003.

I learned from The Register that following an investigation by The Federal Trade commission, Domain Registry of America based in Ontario, Canada, was prohibited from making misrepresentations in the marketing of its domain name registration. Well DRoA is up to its old tricks and they obviously have my address.

There is no need for me to renew my domain name, and certainly not with DRoA. I have a Geocities Web site hosted by Yahoo. I pay a small monthly fee, but you can build a Web site for free through Yahoo with no need to pay for registering the domain name. Other sites offer similar free sites. I have no intention of switching. But this trick probably works quite well with people who have no clue how the Domain Name System (DNS) works.

DRoA have been fooling people since at least 2002, as the Domain Registry of America, of Canada, of Europe and of Australia. They’ve also used the names, Internet Registry of Canada, Domain Registry Services, and Registration Services Incorporated. There is even a site dedicated to “inform internet users of the continuing saga of ‘Registration Services Incoporated'”.

According to the site this company first started sending out fake domain renewal letters to domain holders, using information illegally harvested from various WHOIS databases (mainly the Tucows OpenSRS database) in 2002.
The DRoA Web site lists contact addresses for them in North America, England, and Australia.

17 Responses to “Domain Registry of America Scam”

  1. Hi Trina,

    Thanks very much for bringing this to the attention of your readers. I wanted to point out that there is very effective way to put a stop to this practice – use WHOIS privacy on your domain name registrations.

    With your home address and name hidden behind the privacy feature, companies like DRoA won’t be able to obtain contact information for the domain name.

    Thanks again for exposing this practice.

    James from Tucows.

  2. James,
    Thank you for sharing the privacy feature. I appreciate the info.


  3. The pikers just called my cell phone and lied to me (surprise). They will stop at nothing…

  4. This is nothing news. There is also a Domain Registry of Canada that sends out red and white letters warning that your domain is about to expire and you can renew with them. Often, the fees shown are crazy… usually $30-50.

    In the meantime, if you are looking for a professional hosting package, try LCWSoft ( Canada web hosting). They offer service from $4.95 a month, including cPanel, PHP and MySQL.

  5. Hi,

    Great posting, like it a lot.

    I deal in Domain Names and have a blog about it all here:

    Hope you visit.



  6. […] of the second word. This is the second time someone has sent me a spam about my domain name. See previous post. And it got me thinking. Do I own my domain name? Why don’t I know that since I have a Web […]

  7. I disagree. I have used DRoA for MANY years. I like them A LOT. They are very reliable. I have been a very aggressive journalist and civic activist (environment, planning) so I value honesty and integrity a lot. DRoA is inexpensive, and sometimes they are a little “informal” on the support side. But unlike very large operations (of which I have also used several) they have a charming honesty. It’s not an arrogant bureaucracy. I mean, they’re based in Buffalo, a gritty blue-collar town. And they have been around a long time. As for the renewal letters — true, it can be confusing. But their text is quite literal and striaghtforward. Some years ago I was receiving notices from Network Solutions — the premier corporate host over many years — that were completely deceptive. It took me a few reads to realize “this isn’t right”. I don’t know where you discovered 20,000 Canadians etc. were ‘scammed’. But really, as a user, I value DROA. And the hosting. You can find really bad greedy bureaucratic hosts — but DROA is not one. PS My site I listed for your ‘registration’ has not been active recently.

  8. ‘Charming honesty’? The first message I ever got from them was a fraudulent renewal notice. Years after the FTC ordered them to stop misleading people in the US, they were disciplined by the UK ASA for… trying to mislead people in the UK. While the definition of ‘honesty’ you use has a certain roguish charm to it, it’s not what most people mean by ‘honesty’.

    They’ve also stolen information from other registrars’ databases for marketing purposes in the past, and appear to still be doing so.

    Is Network Solutions as dishonest as DRoA? Yes. That doesn’t excuse DRoA’s behaviour.

    Also, reports from people who HAVE been the victims of DRoA’s domain slamming are that the staff are spectacularly arrogant, even going as far as to edit their policies while they’re on the phone to their customers.

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