Webmasters and users think that we are at the brink of a massive “exit scam.” 20 VPS hosting providers announced that they will shut down shortly after the Black Friday sales rush.
These hosting services notified their users on December 07, 2019, asking them to back up their data elsewhere. These web hosts gave no valid reason for asking their users to move their data somewhere else. Albeit, they made it clear that they will wipe their servers clean by Monday, December 09, 2019.
In alphabetical order, these are the websites that will shut down on Monday, December 09, 2019:
- Bigfoot Servers
Although the services I looked at still have their pricing page and plans active on the sites, they don’t seem to be accepting payments anymore.
What these Websites Share in Common?
Looking at each website individually you’re likely to think of them as separate entities competing in the hosting market. But these websites are unique in that they share strong similarities beneath the hood.
Let’s examine these similarities.
- Shuts down on the same date: This is just too obvious. Why would 20 hosts all choose the same date to close their businesses?
- They all offer cheap low-end VPS’s: According to ZDNet, all these services appear to be using ColoCrossing data centers.
- Comparable page structures: All these sites feature similar structures
- CAPTCHA technology: The sites all use the same CAPTCHA technology
- Similar content: They share comparable chunks of text
- Email template: Customers received email messages that looked the same
Due to these similarities, many users and hosting experts think that these services might belong to the same person, a network of persons, or one entity.
But some experts and users have more concerns.
An Exit Scam?
Affected persons are wondering if this sudden stoppage of service provision is an exit scam. An exit scam is where a company collects a lot of money from its customers or investors and then shuts down.
This has happened in the cryptocurrency space quite often. But it’s not unique to that space, but rare or never been heard of in the web hosting industry.
Since exit scams are not common with hosting companies, these 20 platforms are leveraging a “first-mover advantage.”
Here’s an ongoing discussion in the LowEndTalk forum.
Yep this is a massive exit scam, all of these hosts have been offering yearly plans on LEB for the past few months. Same price points as alpharacks. This should be reported to the authorities, lots of money has been stolen here.– LowEndTalk member daps94 (source)
Another post on Twitter points out that this is likely an exit scam. The tweet also points out that hosts use similar customer and server panel designs.
Yet another tweet points out that this might be an exit scam following the Black Friday and Cyber Monday gains.
There’s just too much in the affirmative to think otherwise. Look at the timing, email messages, and other factors I raised in the previous section.
More so, why would these services choose to shut down their operations just after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday windfall sales?
The concern that an exit scam might be underway is probably confirmed by these companies not offering their customers any refunds.
Is Someone Spoofing these Companies’ Emails?
At first, when the news hit hosting forum threads, some experts thought that someone might be spoofing these companies’ emails. The first thought was that an attacker wants their customers to jump ship.
But users of these companies are confirming that the messages are indeed from their hosting providers. They had contacted support and received messages on their hosting dashboards all confirming the shutdown.
And when you look at the pricing page of these websites and try to make an order you’d see an announcement like the one in the image below.
So What Now?
There’s no news as to when these websites will refund their customers or even if they will ever refund their customers their money. But customers must move their data elsewhere for the time being in anticipation of these services’ shutdown on December 09, 2019.