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Common Flippa Scams and How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

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Posted 3rd September 2011 at 05:43 AM by sbucciarel

I'm sure most of you are aware that Flippa is a popular marketplace for buying and selling sites. In fact, I used to buy and sell a lot of sites on Flippa. It is far more difficult to find sites to buy without getting scammed than it used to be, IMO. The Flippa marketplace is a [B]minefield of scams[/B], and if you don't know what to look for, you could end up getting scammed. I'm not going to link to any individual listings or sellers, but give you ideas of what to look out for.

[B]SELLING “EXCLUSIVE” NETWORK OF SITES/AUTOBLOGS[/B]

[B]There are sellers who are purchasing the PLR blogs from the Warrior Forum with personal rights only and reselling them in batches of 25-40, and calling them[/B] [B]Exclusive[/B]. First off, there's nothing exclusive about a network that one seller has sold many times over and over. There's also nothing exclusive about selling PLR blogs that have already been sold legitimately by the site owners. Of course, the buyer is not aware that he/she is buying PLR blogs that have been sold at a very reasonable price with Personal Use Only rights. They are also not aware that they will most likely receive a DMCA notice when they, in turn, attempt to list the blogs on Flippa.

Not only do the blogs not have resell rights, but the premium theme is being sold without a developer's license. The original owner who is selling with personal rights only has a developer's license, but the scammer who buys them to resell most likely has not bothered with that little detail. [URL="http://domainingdiva.com/scammers/flippa-scams/"]One scammer[/URL] in particular has been making $1500-$2500 for these “Exclusive” networks of autoblogs that they have no rights to sell in the first place.
[B]
Several of these auctions were reported to Flippa and the seller was suspended. Sadly and inexplicably, they unsuspended him and let the auction proceed.[/B] In the meantime, he had created another account selling the same PLR sites that he purchased here on the WF with personal rights only. Flippa suspended that account, but the main account is [B]back in business.[/B]

[B]SELLING “GOOGLE NEWS READY” AUTOBLOGS[/B]

Anyone who knows anything about getting a site accepted by Google News, knows that you need 100% unique news articles. Some clown (and probably not just one) is selling a site “Google News Ready” website with WPRobot articles that are spun to be unique. This site will likely sell and some unsuspecting buyer will think they're getting a real bargain … a real Google News site for only $300. Wow. What a bargain. They are in for a big disappointment when Google News tells them to take a hike.

[B]HIGH PR SITES THAT WERE JUST REGISTERED A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO[/B]

I've seen sites sold with Pagerank 5 that were registered just before the listing appeared. Anyone in their right mind knows that a brand new site will not get a pagerank of 5 in a couple of days. The seller has registered a dropped domain that used to have a website with pagerank 5. Domains do not have pagerank. Web pages do, so buying a dropped domain with high pagerank is futile. It will lose all of that pagerank during the next Google update. I know … I have bought a couple of high PR dropped domains … by the next update, they were PR0.

[B]SELLING SITES WITH CLAIMS OF “POTENTIAL INCOME $XXX”[/B]

Yep, these are fresh, brand new sites, but miraculously, have the potential to earn $1500 a month. Why? Because the seller says so. There's one listed right now with a BIN of $25,000 that was built last week. His selling point? [B]MASSIVE POTENTIAL.[/B] Lol.
[B]
SELLERS WHO SELL THE SAME SITES OVER AND OVER AGAIN[/B]

This one is a biggie on Flippa. There's so many sellers who sell the same sites over and over and over again. One very common type of site for this kind of seller is Traffic Reseller sites and iPhone hacking sites. But they're not the only types .. movie, celebrity, dating and game sites are common for this type of seller. There's one particular seller on Flippa who's only business is selling the same crap sites over and over again. He was banned from one account, opened a new one and back in business just like that. There's a nifty site to check for sellers selling duplicate sites, here: [URL="http://flippaleaderboard.com/duplicates.php"]Flippa Leaderboard[/URL]. In the first listing, that's just a buyer who uses the same title over and over but the sites are different. Not the case with many of the rest of them.

[B]SELLERS WHO BUY CHEAPO MRR PRODUCTS AND RESELL THEM FOR BIG BUCKS[/B]

Another common Flippa scam is sellers who buy get cheap ($5) minisites from places like tradebit, put them on a domain and resell them for at least $100. I've seen so many of these, it's not funny. A simple Copyscape report on these sites turns up the original tradebit sites that have sold a million times for $5.
[B]
SELLERS WHO BUY FAKE TRAFFIC TO INFLATE TRAFFIC STATS[/B]

This one got me once. Site had great traffic. Stupidly, I didn't insist on seeing referring urls. I bought the site and checked where the traffic was coming from. It was ALL coming from traffic sellers who sell fake traffic. It most likely was autoclicks rather than actual visitors. At any rate, it wasn't traffic that would have been remotely interested in the visiting the site or purchasing anything from it. Make sure that the seller has Statcounter enabled for you to check the traffic stats yourself or has uploaded Google Analytics.

The above are just a few ways to get scammed when buying sites on Flippa. If you're thinking about buying a site on Flippa, take a deep breath before hitting the BIN button and do some research, and if you're buying high end sites for really big bucks, use Escrow.com. Escrow protects both buyers and sellers and is the safest way to make sure that you actually get the site you've paid for. There are buyers out there who will buy a site and as soon as it all is transferred, file a Paypal dispute. With Paypal's lack of protection for sellers who sell digital items, you could lose your site, the domain and the payment.

For high end sites, I also recommend having a website sales contract. It's basically a contract stating that the sale has taken place and what it includes, etc. It's a good document to have that can be given to Flippa if the buyer files a dispute. One buyer did this to me and I won the dispute because I had the website sales contract.

For sites that claim revenue, just be aware that it is so simple for sellers to fake income screenshots and it is done all the time. Some will offer a video of their Paypal account. I've heard that even this can be faked, but it seems a better option than just relying on screenshots.

Before buying, contact the seller and chat about the site. You can often get a feel for a person's honesty or dishonesty through communication with the seller. Also check their feedback. It's important, but don't rely on it 100%. In at least two of the cases above, the seller has great feedback. Why? BECAUSE THE BUYERS DIDN'T KNOW THEY WERE BEING SCAMMED. Also, take a look at Flippa's meaningless rating criteria. A LinkedIn acct? Really? Like scammers can't get a LinkedIn account? A Facebook Acct? Same thing. Serial killers can get a LindedIn or Facebook acct, so I'm sure that Flippa scammers have no trouble getting a high Flippa rating by getting them too.

The same due diligence needs to be done wherever you buy sites from, whether it's on Ebay, DP or other sites. Flippa just happens to be the most popular of these for buying and selling sites.
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