$228 Invoice from Domain Listings - Is it a Scam?

One of my clients is a small nonprofit. I do remote bookkeeping work for them, mostly logging donations in the Little Green Light CRM and making sure the invoices get paid. It was an ordinary Wednesday- I was opening the week's mail, stacking up papers and getting ready to pay their bills.

There, among the regular invoices from the regular cast of contractors, was an invoice from a company called "Domain Listings" out of Los Vegas, NV, for $228.

It looked fishy. Listing your website on google doesn't cost anything. I should know- I'm a domain owner (and you're on my domain right now!). This didn't seem like something the charity would buy:

Reading the whole invoice looking for clues, I finally found it: the magic words that proved it. It was a fake invoice.

How it Works

They make a solicitation (that is, advertisement) that looks just enough like an invoice so that folks will just automatically pay it. They stay technically legit by adding the magic legalese: "This is not a bill. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer."

So that's how they stay legal. If you pay them the money, they'll put you on their listing website. No one will ever find you through that listing website. They might was well have written your domain in their secret diary and hidden it under their pillow at night. It's completely useless to your business or charity, but to stay legally in the clear they had to put your domain somewhere. It's not illegal to buy something overpriced and useless.

Those cheeseballs are banking on the fact that people in accounts payable don't read. They're banking on the fact that we'll just pay anything that looks like an invoice. And people do. Lots of people.

Lots of Suckers

Just for fun I looked up their "domain listings" website. Lots of businesses in my area-- reputable ones!-- were listed there. Churches, restaurants, animal shelters, architecture firms... it was like a hall of shame for suckers. I felt so bad for all these people and their gullible accounts payable departments.

I mentioned it to the executives at the charity. "We got our first scam," I wrote in an email. "We do not owe these people $228.00 or any other amount. I'll go ahead file this... in the paper shredder."

If you receive an invoice from Domain Listings, that's exactly what you should do with it too.

1 comment:

  1. Ethical practices in business are declining. To the people that perpetuate these scams, it's just business as usual. Your non-profit is lucky to have you working for them.