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February 9, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Fake invoice in the mail

Dsc03570_1Ryan Marle writes in:

I received in the mail something from "ListingCorp" that looks exactly like an invoice, except for the fact that I know I didn't register with this company.  In fact I've never even heard of Listing Corp.  It's a solicitation to pay a lot more money to switch my domain registrar.  It makes me wonder how many people would pay it without even thinking about it.

They did manage to put one line in small print on the back that says, "This is not a bill. This is a solicitation." How nice of them to cover themselves like that.


Ugh, I got the nearly the exact same letter in the mail. I read it and shredded it seconds later.

Posted by: Stormy at February 9, 2007 12:37 AM

Shouldn't that be against the law?

Posted by: dahobo at February 9, 2007 12:37 AM

I get a lot of letters from Domain Registry of America which also look like invoices. They go straight in the bin.

Posted by: quack at February 9, 2007 05:57 AM

This has been going on for years. It happened within one year of the appearance of competition, when one registrar (the one that had previously been *the* registrar) sent out a bunch of "invoices" like this. Those "invoices" did *not* say they were solicitations. They had to pay fines and a bunch of other good things for their effort.

Posted by: Glenn Lasher at February 9, 2007 06:45 AM

While this is undeniably broken, I'm curious if the person had recently registered that domain name somewhere. The letter is written in a way that lets you know it's payment for a new service ("to ensure listing by Jan. 15th..."), so I would think that would set off alarm bells if someone didn't ask for such a service. Either way though, definitely broken and just plain wrong.

Posted by: ambrocked at February 9, 2007 07:48 AM

Nope, these have nothing to do with current or impending re-registrations. I've had my domain registered for more than three years now ( and I still get these damn things in the mail. The first time I ever received one I was so confused I actually had to call my real domain service and ask them what the heck it was. So yeah... if not BROKEN it's definitely EVIL.

Posted by: CuteLucca at February 9, 2007 10:27 AM

This isn't so much broken as much as it is borderline fraud. This type of stunt has happened in other industries as well. Companies have published things like "Yellow Direcory" and sent "invoices" to businesses to be listed hoping that the businesses will confuse them with the Yellow Pages and pay. These stunts have also been tried with office supplies.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at February 9, 2007 10:44 AM

I just got a bill to be listed in a statewide corporations directory for a few hundred dollars, which is simply a reprint of the online list you can find at our state's Secretary of State web site, FREE.

The accounts receivable departments of some companies are so bad that they pay invoices without verification, making a small fortune for these scammers. There must be real money in this because it still goes on in a big way.

I don't think anybody needs to do anything to stop this, though, because it is truly self-punishing to the victims. Read, pay attention, and stay present in your own life: you'll be fine.

Posted by: tartan at February 9, 2007 11:18 AM

If you're in the US, I would send a copy of this to your state's attorney general. Companies have gotten in trouble for misleading advertisements/statements like this in the past.

Posted by: Fastolfe at February 9, 2007 11:46 AM

How about all those fake check promos that include all the legal components of an actual negotiable instrument including "Pay to the Order of," but also a fine print legal disclaimer that either it is not a negotiable check at all or cashing it gives them permission to change your long distance carrier, sign you up for credit protection schemes or kidnap your dog.

Most folks have seen so many of these they don't give them a second glance. I'd put these fake invoices into the same category in a couple of years.

Posted by: Erich at February 9, 2007 01:19 PM

In regards to the fake checks in the mail, check out this story about the man who cashed a supposedly fake check for $95,000... and it cleared!

Posted by: inspired at February 9, 2007 08:34 PM

Or, if you have a mortgage, how about those come-ons from mortgage companies that come in the form of various "official notices" and "important communications" purporting to be from your mortgage company? Even more annoying are the ads which come disguised as income tax refund checks, loosely duplicating envelopes from the IRS.

Why these people think I'd do business with someone whose first contact with me is a deliberate deception is something that continues to provide profound bafflement.

Posted by: Steve at February 9, 2007 09:36 PM

This is a really bad way to do it:

1. Maybe they should post "SAMPLE" in the diagonal across the page.

2. Maybe they should send such things to you at all if it has no use to you.

Posted by: zzo38 at February 11, 2007 02:59 AM

This is a really bad way to do it. A better way is one or both of the following:

1. Maybe they should post "SAMPLE" in the diagonal across the page.

2. Maybe they should send such things to you at all if it has no use to you.

Posted by: zzo38 at February 11, 2007 02:59 AM

I've heard this on the news that listing corps was just a scandal. The government was trying to crackdown on it...

But I guess they didn't. :(

Posted by: st33med at February 11, 2007 12:49 PM

Report it to the BBB. It looks like others have had trouble with them.

Posted by: homersimpson748 at February 13, 2007 10:21 PM

This is just one of the classic techniques to get people to open junk mail and read it. Making it look like a bill gets people to pay attention to it, at least for a few seconds.

Of course, this one takes it a bit further, to something I would consider a scam: it tricks a small but steady stream of people into paying for something they didn't order.

Oh, and stuff like this is against the law. Report it to your state attorney, the FCC, or the BBB. Unfortunately, none of these places has enough resources to shut down anything but a small percentage of scammers, but the more reports they get about a single company, the more likely they are to crack down on them.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 14, 2007 10:45 PM

I get these all the time. Anyone who signs up for a domain through godaddy gets them that I know of. FWIW, there's a huge amount of text on the back, with "THIS IS NOT A BILL" at the top, which goes on to explain the terms of signing up with them. If you get these, I suggest just throwing them away.

Posted by: Rob DJ at March 2, 2007 06:59 PM

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