Domain Asset Recovery Reboots as Vurgo or Vurgo.com – Same Crap – Just A New Name

In September of last year, we wrote about John Bonk and his shady company Domain Asset Recovery. These are the same guys associated with “ClickMillions” and “WealthInvestors” and somewhat known for what has got to be the most ridiculous pitch that’s ever been on stage at DomainFest. It seems that they’ve decided to rebrand as Vurgo and have gone with the URL Vurgo.com.

Today Andrew at Domain Name Wire covered the latest iteration of this company and their constantly evolving business model which is “technically legal” but certainly without question an incredibly unethical business. As Andrew and DNSR pointed out, Domain Asset Recovery aka, Vurgo.com is essentially running the deceptive / scummy business as before.

Their business model is to watch drop lists, look for the better names, no doubt running it through Estibot and then waiting for those tens of thousands of names to then pass through drop and then, once the names are available for reg fee, they do the following.

Step 1: Identify a former domain owner who let a better quality domain drop.

Step 2: Have an outsourced call center reach out over the phone to the domain owner and ask them if they were aware that their domain expired. If the person was unaware, and they express interest in getting the domain back, they then say that someone will be in touch the next day. I should mention that the first round of calls are done in a country where call center services are cheap and out of reach of US laws pertaining to unsolicited calls.

Step 3: Since the person has expressed interest in getting the domain back, immediately Register it at Reg Fee.

Step 4: Have another phone rep reach out to the person to see if they want to get the domain back at a cost of anywhere from $99 to $500 according to some people who have fallen for this. (Some of which are within the comments section of the original post DNSR did about these guys last year). They seem to pretty much say anything at this point., examples includes, “multiple parties are interested in the domain”, “it is going to auction” and “you put so much time and energy into it, why waste all the back link value, it is valuable” and so on. Overall it seems they’ll just about say whatever they have to in order to sell you the domain you let drop which they just hand registered the day before.

Step 5: Repeat this process several hundred times a day.

It’s a business that only works by using outsourced labor to do the dirty work of generating interest and reaching out to people and misleading them about the facts. I should also mention to Mr. Bonk that claiming ignorance of a contractors methods to obtain these leads, or expecting to be completely indemnified is really stupid.

I can’t comment on the recent accusations that they are impersonating GoDaddy and or using very crafted wording to make it sound as if they are associated with GoDaddy. I will however say that I would absolutely believe it. Last year when they contacted me on a number of {dining} related domains I let drop, on a couple of the calls some phone reps (the first round) made it sound as if they are associated with ICANN. When I asked them to elaborate they said ICANNN or it might have even been four N’s. You’re on the line with someone talking on a crappy VOIP line and most often in broken English. Either way, it could be as simple as they had some URL that is similar to ICANN and that gives them (in their mind) so wiggle room with the truth.

It’s all very reminiscent of how white collar criminals operate. Essentially you try to leverage the “grey area” where maybe the law isn’t clear enough, ultimately doing so in a way that allows you to deceive people. Maybe you stretch the truth and make it sound as if you have a connection to GoDaddy by using the right wording, when in reality your only connection is that you own some domains that are registered with them. I’m not sure and I can’t comment, but I have to say I 100% believe what Andrew has claimed.

Honestly, this might be small potatoes right now but I’m sure at some point the FTC, FBI and many other organizations might take a much closer look at what it is Mr. Bonk is doing. Kevin Trudeau just got hit with 10 years in prison for this same kind of deceptive “wordsmithing”. It’s more complicated than that of course, and the history of that case is very interesting but you get my point. Playing with fire…

I’m not entirely sure what these guys can be charged with, because all they are really doing is telling people who let domains drop that they’ve got them when they really don’t. Then whoever doesn’t check to see for themselves and actually wants the domain back, well then its too late. You showed interest in getting it back, so they snatch it up and then sell it right back to you. Almost like Registrar Front Running from years back, except its really low tech and most likely being done through a call center in India.

This is just yet another installment of “shitty things people do on the internet to screw one another” and I honestly don’t find too much difference between this and the .Sucks extension. Whomever ends up with .Sucks, hey maybe you should reach out to John Bonk. He might be interested in posting “fake” complaints on MajorCompanyNameGoesHere.Sucks and then contacting the company about buying it to make it go away.

With regard to proof of my claims for Mr. Bonk’s business model, please see the images below. I should note Mr. Bonk, that I started putting your phone reps on speakerphone for everyone at my office to hear the hilarious and educational BS sales pitch. So there’s literally witnesses and if need be a transcript of it all.

So I used to own GardensDining.com, LakeWorthDining.com, BoyntonDining.com and a bunch of other GEO + Dining domains at one point. I let them all drop right around the same time.

Domain Asset Recovery contacted me first about GardensDining.com, it immediately sounded like a scam and I was 100% aware that they dropped, so I said “not interested” and then hung up. It wasn’t until I got the call for the other domains that (same day) I decided to set the trap.

So with LakeWorthDining.com, I pretended like I didn’t know it dropped and that I wanted it back. Bingo! As soon as I did that, within a couple of hours LakeWorthDining.com had been registered by Domain Asset Recovery. However, the others that I hadn’t expressed interest in, those didn’t get registered by Domain Asset Recovery.

So the next day, the sales rep called to “close the deal” on LakeWorthDining.com at $299, at which point I explained that I thought that their business was shitty and deceptive and told them to not call my number ever again.

So here’s screen shots of the LakeWorthDining.com registration records.

First a record of my registration with the expiration of 3-24-2013. 

(Click photos to enlarge)

 

LakeWorthdining1

 

Next, the registration record from 6-13-2013 for Domain Asset Recovery (Note the amount of time from drop to contact) 

LakeWorthDining2

 

Finally, now we have the current LakeWorthDining.com registration which is now under control of…. Vurgo LLC. 

LakeWorthdining3

 

Below you’ll find screen shots of the original whois on BoyntonDining.com and GardensDining.com so I can substantiate further these claims. Oh and yeah, neither one of these as of 3/20/2014 at 3:15 PM (EST)  are registered. They were never renewed because I said I wasn’t interested and when you’re outsourcing your lead generation methods to unsophisticated call centers in India, this little “whoopsie” can happen easily. 

 

BoyntonDining

GardensDining

 

I wasn’t going to post anything on this, I thought Andrew did a fine job today. But I just read in the comments section a reply from Mr. Bonk himself, claiming that Andrew’s allegations are wrong and that Domain Asset Recovery / Vurgo does not deceive anyone and that they don’t have this model of phone-based-domain-front-running. Sorry John, but you can’t pull this shit and expect that the people who care not just about other people and consumers in general but the domain community won’t call you out every chance they get. Clearly you’re inventive and resourceful, is there really no other way to make money from the domain industry other than screwing people?

In closing, feel free to repost, share and or link to this article and or Andrew’s about Vurgo. I don’t think very many people within the domain community who aren’t total neophytes would fall for this, but apparently a lot of every day business owners and or small level domain investors have. This in my opinion falls under the same classification as the .Sucks domain extension, as in collectively, humanity and certainly the domain industry would be 100% better off if these “grey area” businesses didn’t exist. Is what they do technically illegal, probably not. Should it be? Hell yeah.

Tricking people into buying something by using deception shouldn’t be a business model. Just like trying to force a ™ owner to have to buy a domain that shouldn’t exist (.Sucks) or to purchase “protection services” to defend ones brand from domain squatters, the people who have ruined the reputation of the domain investment community, that shouldn’t be a business model either.