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Scam Alert: Domain Registry of America

May 28th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Relax, isn’t expiring. But we did get this rather amusing letter suggesting that it was, from one of the oldest players in the domain slamming industry – the “Domain Registry of America” (DROA). It read:

Domain Registry of America – Domain Name Expiration Notice

Call us toll free at 1-866-434-0212 24 hours a day or visit us at

As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification of the domain name registration that is due to expire in the next few months. When you switch to the Domain Registry of America, you can take advantage of our best savings. Your registration for: will expire on June 28, 2010. Act today!

Domain name:
Reply Requested By: May 31, 2010

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 identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web.

Privatization of Domain Registrations and Renewals now allows the consumer choice of Registrars when initially registering and also when renewing a domain name. Domain name holders are not obligated to renew their domain name with their current Registrar or with the Domain Registry of America. Review our prices and decide for yourself. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to the Domain Registry of America.

1 year – $30.00
2 years (Recommended) – $50.00 (save $10)
5 years (Best Value) – $95.00 (save $55)

The following names are currently available for you to register and secure, protecting your domain name from being duplicated. – 2 years – $50.00 – 2 years – $50.00

Registration of the above domains includes DNS, URL, and Email Forwarding to a website and mailbox you designate.

Transfer and renew your domain online at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or call our Customer Service Department, toll free, at (866) 434-0212 to transfer and renew your domain name today.

Before websites, this scam most often came in the form of long distance telephone service slamming, in which a no-name albeit expensive long distance provider uses deceit to get their mark to agree to switch long distance. One common way to do this was to send checks for small amounts, as low as $5, on which there was fine print stating that cashing the check amounted to authorization to switch your long distance provider.

Clearly, DROA does state that this is not actually a bill, of course, they are only doing that because the Federal Trade Commission pummeled them in a 2002 lawsuit over the exact same scam they’re running now. Have they seen the error of their folly, and changed their ways? Hardly. The payment envelope – which I only call a payment envelope because it clearly says in bold letters that a payment is meant to be enclosed – still makes it seem quite a bit like this is an invoice. It reads:

Please do not send correspondence with your payment – send correspondence via email to

To help us process your payment faster, please:

  • Include your Remittance Stub
  • Include your current email address
  • Do not send cash as payment
  • Sign your check

Thank you for your business!

The address on the payment envelope is:

Domain Registry of America
2316 Delaware Ave #266
Buffalo, New York 14216-2687

This address belongs to a UPS Store, whose employees confirmed this ‘location’ was just a mail box in their store. I guess it’s a lot safer than giving our your actual business address. When I tried to find their actual address by searching for DROA’s various aliases on the New York Division of Corporations Business Entity Database, I was not surprised to find out that DROA was not registered to engage in business in New York – hence the lack of an actual office in lieu of a mail box service. Despite that the operator of this scam seems to be based in Ontario, Canada, I bet the New York State Division of Taxation and Finance would disagree that DROA need not be registered as a business entity in New York if it’s using a New York address just minutes away from the Canadian border to collect payments. lists the contact business address roughly 2 hours away from Buffalo, as:

7100 Warden Ave unit 8
Markham, ON
L3R8B5, CA

Tel: (905) 415-2681
Fax: (905) 415-2682

Back to the envelope tactics for a moment, though. According to Merriam Webster, the use of remittance here is either appropriate or inappropriate depending on whether it is used as a transitive or intransitive verb. In the intransitive sense it means “to send money (as in payment),” but at first I read this in the transitive form: “to send (money) to a person or place especially in payment of a demand, account, or draft”. This choice of words definitely evokes some sense that payment is due, especially in the context that “you must renew your domain name” and that “failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity”, despite disclaimers to the contrary.

The fine print on the back first reveals that “Domain Registry Of America”, or “DROA”, is just an alias for “Brandon Gray Internet Services Inc, D/B/A “” (none of which are registered businesses in New York). It then goes on to explain that “you warrant that your use of our services is not going to subject us to any claims(s),” and goes on that, “[if lawsuits are threatened] in connection with our services […] [you must] indemnify us and hold us harmless from the claims and expenses (including attorney’s fees and court costs) [… and …] you agree that you will, upon demand, obtain a performance bond with a reputable bonding company […] to pay for our reasonably anticipated expenses in reltaion to the matter for the coming year.” That’s right – you agree that if you sue them, you will pay for their attorney’s costs up-front.

The fine print also conceals various other fees, notably, that if there is an issue with credit card charges, in the event of a charge back by a credit card company, your service will immediately be suspended, and will only be reinstated “at their discretion and subject to our receipt of the unpaid fee(s) and our then-current reinstatement fee, currently set at $200USD”. So you mean I get high prices now, and even higher hidden fees later? Sounds like quite a deal!

This company gets its information from publicly available WHOIS records. Unfortunately any legitimate website trying to remain in compliance with ICANN policies on WHOIS accuracy is forced to keep their data publicly accurate, pay for a domain privacy service, or risk losing their domain if the inaccurate data is reported to InterNIC.

As it happens, I am in the process of developing an inexpensive domain WHOIS privacy service of my own. Contact me if you’re interested!

We will close this analysis, taking the advice and reassurance provided by the scam letter, challenging you to “review [their] prices and decide for yourself.” Review for yourself indeed.

Tags: Computers · Spam and Telemarketing

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jon // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I just received two of these ‘invoices’ from these guys for the same domain name. I’ve had trouble with them before. DROA is bad, horribly unethical. I’m doing everything I can to remind everyone not to use the Domain Registry of America.

    [Editor’s reply: Thanks for taking the time to share! If we stop just one person from falling prey to these jerks, we win!]

  • 2 MadeByAPrincess // Dec 27, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    This is a transcript of my emails back and forth with DROA last week. I cannot believe this company is still in business. Eric Voisard even went so far as to mess with my account so that I could not access it. I called tech support to get the EPP code so I could transfer it and was told that “something was wrong” with it. The notes said that I wanted to let my site lapse and not renew. Umm…no! The guy was super nice and read thru my emails and made copious notes in my acct stating that was not my intention at all. He unlocked my acct and sent the EPP code to me. He said he has nothing to do with Eric Voisard and couldn’t believe the guy is still around. Tech support has nothing to do with customer service just FYI. I told him I am peppering the internet with my emails back and forth. Until this morning I had no idea so many people had the same experiences with DROA. Anyway, read this from the bottom up…

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Eric Voisard
    To: XXX
    Sent: Thu, Dec 23, 2010 1:00 pm
    Subject: Re: Shady business practice
    If you want to remain ignorant of our prices and deals because it better suits your pre-determined notions about us, by all means, live in ignorance, I’m sure it is more comfortable for you there.
    And your claim that you are giggling to your “friends” on your “social networking sites” has been quite entertaining for us, thank you.

    Eric Voisard
    Customer Relations Manager
    1-866-434-0212 ex 248

    On 23/12/2010 3:45 PM, XXX wrote:

    I’m not interested in your attempt at justification although this has been quite entertaining for my friends and colleagues and I on our social networking sites. They are taking notes.

    You send me a link to your own site? You think I care what your company says about your pricing and how you beat the competition? I can do my own research thank you. I pay less on Go Daddy and Pappashop FYI.

    Bottom line, take me off of your mailing list.
    Don’t respond to this, you are wasting my time now. I am putting you and droa in my spam folder.

    P.S. You might want to spell check next time it only shows your lack of professionalism.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Eric Voisard
    To: XXX
    Sent: Thu, Dec 23, 2010 12:35 pm
    Subject: Re: Shady business practice
    Unfortunately we will have to disagree as our letter quite clearly states in bold lettering that “This notice is not a bill”, it asked the potential customer if they are interested in transferring their domain name to us. It is everyone’s responsibility to read the information they are presented with, not reading it and claiming that you were deceived is not a vlaid response and is a way to deflect your own personal responsibility. So your assertion that it is not clear as to the purpose of the letter is wholly misguided.

    As for our prices we offer the lowest domain registration and hosting services in the industry, feel free to compare our pricing to other similar services:

    Eric Voisard
    Customer Relations Manager
    1-866-434-0212 ex 248
    On 23/12/2010 3:22 PM, XXX wrote:

    I wouldn’t say clearly. That is a stretch. That language is hidden within several paragraphs into the letter. This looks just like the renewal for a domain, not a solicitation. You can put whatever spin you want on this but DROA has designed this letter to deceive customers into thinking it is a renewal not a solicitation to transfer their domain. You and I both know that people rarely thoroughly read through their mail, particularly one that looks like a bill. You are counting on this in fact. I think it is shameful that DROA would stoop to this level and am looking into my options on transferring my domain from your company to another. I think it comical that you mention how low your prices are when it is a well known fact that you have some of the higher prices out there. I had few options when I first purchased my domain name, now there are many and I plan to take advantage of this competitive market and get out of business with a company who seeks to prey on its customers and in such a duplicitous manner.

    If you truly want to offer a service and not seek to take advantage of people you would design a letter that looks like a solicitation and not one that looks identical to one of your actual bills. I know this will not happen because clearly your company is unscrupulous. Any company that would do this in the first place is lacking a moral compass.

    Nonetheless, don’t send me this garbage again.
    —-Original Message—–
    From: Eric Voisard
    To: XXX
    Sent: Thu, Dec 23, 2010 12:06 pm
    Subject: Re: Shady business practice
    Dear Customer

    The letter you received is a solicitation asking you to consider our firm for the renewal of your domain name. You have the choice of renewing your domain name with any registrar of your choice. The solicitation clearly states that you are transferring your domain name from one place to another if you decide to renew your domain name with our firm. The advertisement also goes as far as saying that you don’t have to renew your domain name with the current registrar or with the Domain Registry of America as the choice is yours.
    Eric Voisard
    Customer Relations Manager
    1-866-434-0212 ex 248

    On 23/12/2010 1:58 PM, XXX wrote:

    Please take me off of your mailing list. I have one domain with you ( and that is it. I received what looks like a renewal notice for another website I have but you have nothing to do with that site. I maintain that domain through another company and I think it is really shady of you to send me a “bill” to renew something you don’t have. Why would I pay $35 a year through you when I pay only $11.99 with someone else?

    Don’t ever send me something like this again. This is very sketchy business practice of yours and I will be sharing it with my business colleagues. The only bill I expect to see from you is the one and even that I hope to stop in the future.


    [Editor’s reply: Wow, thanks for sharing this. Our limited amount of contact with this company didn’t even scratch the surface, apparently.]

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