HELP! (just won auction on flippa, need some advice)

26 replies
(I'm keeping it a bit vague to protect the privacy of the people involved.)

I just won an auction for an old website for $2700. I contacted the seller and he is from a country near Russia (I'm from the U.S.), and he barely spoke English. In fact, when I contacted him, it was over Skype (no video) and we couldn't really understand each other, so we used chat most of the time.

He was trying to explain to me that his bank does not accept transactions from American companies (or something?), so he cannot use Flippa Escrow or any escrow for that matter. Instead, he wants to send me the domain, then I'll pay him half, then he'll send me the files/content, then I'll send him the other half, then he'll set up the FTP. This doesn't make any sense and wasn't mentioned on the auction page, or during any communication before the auction ended.

On Skype, I told him I was in this with a few partners and would need to check with them first, but also told him that we were getting the money together and setting up a host. After thinking it through and discussing it with my partners, I emailed him explaining that we don't feel comfortable without using escrow and taking care of this in one transaction. I also mentioned that I confirmed with Escrow.com over the phone that they do business in his country and often.

What do you think about this? Has anyone used Flippa enough to know if the sales are usually handled this way, since Flippa pretty much leaves it to the seller and auction winner to figure everything out (although they do strongly recommend using escrow). We had some serious plans for this thing, and now it seems a bit questionable.

??????????

Anyway, thanks for any help you can give!

-Josh
#advice #auction #flippa #won
  • If you need any info that I left out, let me know. Maybe I can be less vague about the details if they are needed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Were there payment options in the listing? It's something to check on before you buy...did it state escrow could - or could not - be used?

      I wouldn't buy it if I couldn't use escrow....period. Others may not agree but I wouldn't do it. I'd walk away from this one in a heartbeat.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        If you have to ask . . . and obviously you have concerns . . . don't just walk away . . . run as fast as you can.
        "He was trying to explain to me that his bank does not accept transactions from American companies"
        I doubt this very much . . . he is just trying to move this transaction into a place where you can't protect your own position or get your money back.

        I would not give this seller the time of day.

        Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Tony Dean
    I would run a mile from this deal now!
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  • Ask him to use the escrow if not then have him send the domain and files when you get it send him the money. That's the only 2 options I see and he has rejected #1 so you are left with #2 or to run.
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  • Profile picture of the author stackman
    The seller knew the payment options before he posted. I smell a scam, especially since he seems to be from Eastern Europe, where most scams of various types originate. If he wants you to send money via Western Union or other such service, it's the preferred payment method of scammers.
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  • Profile picture of the author kk075
    I've never bothered with domain flipping so I have a quick question. What would stop me from going onto a site like Flippa, listing a multi-million dollar website (let's say, NewEgg.com), and then asking to complete the transaction outside of Flippa? Do these domains even verify ownership beforehand or is it completely a buyer-beware industry?
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    • Profile picture of the author Gambino
      Originally Posted by kk075 View Post

      Do these domains even verify ownership beforehand or is it completely a buyer-beware industry?


      Yes, basically you add a little code to verify ownership.
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  • Thanks for the advice so far everyone! Quick update: first I need to clarify his issue with escrow. He explained that he was planning on using flippa escrow but as the auction ended, he noticed in the FAQ that flippa uses PayPal and he had experienced issues with his bank not accepting payments from PayPal due to some law in his country, so he's worried that they will send the funds back.

    I explained that we were hesitant to move forward this way, he understood and proposed another option that seems to keep the risk on his end. He suggested transferring the domain (he already gave me the EPP code to get started but I haven't yet). Once the domain is transferred he said he will provide us with all of the files expected, then once we have everything we can pay in full via moneygram. Once he received payment, he will set up the site on the host via FTP.

    Two questions about this: first off, does it still sound risky to you? I want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything important or obvious here.



    Secondly, I'm not 100% familiar with transferring the website to our host using FTP. If he doesn't complete this last step, is it a big deal or something we should be able to figure out ourselves?


    Thanks again for all of the help!
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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      Originally Posted by takecareerofyourself View Post

      Thanks for the advice so far everyone! Quick update: first I need to clarify his issue with escrow. He explained that he was planning on using flippa escrow but as the auction ended, he noticed in the FAQ that flippa uses PayPal and he had experienced issues with his bank not accepting payments from PayPal due to some law in his country, so he's worried that they will send the funds back.

      I explained that we were hesitant to move forward this way, he understood and proposed another option that seems to keep the risk on his end. He suggested transferring the domain (he already gave me the EPP code to get started but I haven't yet). Once the domain is transferred he said he will provide us with all of the files expected, then once we have everything we can pay in full via moneygram. Once he received payment, he will set up the site on the host via FTP.

      Two questions about this: first off, does it still sound risky to you? I want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything important or obvious here.



      Secondly, I'm not 100% familiar with transferring the website to our host using FTP. If he doesn't complete this last step, is it a big deal or something we should be able to figure out ourselves?


      Thanks again for all of the help!
      With the new option he has proposed, he is taking the risk. As for setting the site up, if you're going to buy websites, you need to know what to do with them after you buy them, so get cracking and learn what to do with them.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      Originally Posted by takecareerofyourself View Post




      Secondly, I'm not 100% familiar with transferring the website to our host using FTP. If he doesn't complete this last step, is it a big deal or something we should be able to figure out ourselves?


      Thanks again for all of the help!
      There's this awesome free video site that gives tutorials on this and so much more. It's called Youtube.
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  • Profile picture of the author stackman
    It still smells like dead fish. Does the seller actually own the domain and the site? Does he have an email address in that domain?
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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      Originally Posted by stackman View Post

      It still smells like dead fish. Does the seller actually own the domain and the site? Does he have an email address in that domain?
      He couldn't very well list it if he didn't own it. Flippa verifies domain listings when you create the listing. He has also agreed to transfer the domain and files to the buyer before payment is made. Once the seller does that ...he's the one who could get screwed.
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      • Profile picture of the author stackman
        Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

        He couldn't very well list it if he didn't own it. Flippa verifies domain listings when you create the listing. He has also agreed to transfer the domain and files to the buyer before payment is made. Once the seller does that ...he's the one who could get screwed.
        So it is. They have improved their verification process since I last looked at them. However, the whole thing about bank laws in his country, moneygram, not setting up the site via FTP until payment has been received, still smells funny. Who knows what the files contain unless the OP sets them up himself before money is sent?

        http://www.flipfilter.com/blog/website-selling-scams/

        Here's some interesting reading, in Part 2, where the following sentence should be noted: "You receive an email with a link to a zip containing the site files, but on installing them you realise that there is nothing but a few static pages." and the following: "the seller simply orders the code manually from another genuine site and emails it back to you whenever you place an order "

        I would sure like to know how this one turns out. If I have to eat crow and congratulate the OP, so be it, but personally I wouldn't touch it with the proverbial ten foot pole.
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    I have had many scary experiences. People asking for transfer fees and hosting fees. People charging extra money for more services. The list goes on an on. I have found that liars always have more excuses. Most crooks keep trying to change your game. Tell them that using escrow is the way we go.
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  • My bad for not updating this sooner. After I discussed the second offer that the seller made with my partners, we decided to bail. There were too many red flags - the seller's english was fine on the auction page, but barely spoke it when we skyped (which there was also no video). He was telling us that he needs us to move fast because he's leaving the country to work on a norwegian oil rig or something. There were a bunch of others, and none were too obvious until we connected them together. Anyway, thanks to everyone who offered advice, much appreciated! We learned an important lesson, and luckily the lesson was free.
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    • Profile picture of the author stackman
      Originally Posted by takecareerofyourself View Post

      My bad for not updating this sooner. After I discussed the second offer that the seller made with my partners, we decided to bail. There were too many red flags - the seller's english was fine on the auction page, but barely spoke it when we skyped (which there was also no video). He was telling us that he needs us to move fast because he's leaving the country to work on a norwegian oil rig or something. There were a bunch of others, and none were too obvious until we connected them together. Anyway, thanks to everyone who offered advice, much appreciated! We learned an important lesson, and luckily the lesson was free.
      Smart move. Congratulations on using your good sense and intuition to avoid a big mistake. This scam smelled too much like a number of other scams in some other fields that I'm more familiar with. It had many of the same earmarks and "tells", especially the part about having to hurry to leave the country. Unfortunately, some sucker is going to fall for this and the guy will have succeeded --- and then he'll do it again, and again.
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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Ross
    Escrow is the best way to handle transactions. But the way that guy is saying is bit risky and you may loose your money.
    So, it is better to leave this auction, as it seems nothing but a scam.
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    • Profile picture of the author salegurus
      Originally Posted by Justin Ross View Post

      Escrow is the best way to handle transactions. But the way that guy is saying is bit risky and you may loose your money.
      So, it is better to leave this auction, as it seems nothing but a scam.
      Did you even bother reading the thread before posting?
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  • Profile picture of the author coluden
    You made the right decision. Better to risk "hurting his feelings" than be out $2700.00. Congrats on taking the free advice so many people on WF have given you!
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  • Profile picture of the author Joan Altz
    I tend to agree with Suzanne on this, but you gotta follow your gut. I've had a couple of transactions like this in the past and everything went fine.

    When they send you the domain first, they are screwed if you don't pay them, so the risk was on him at that point. He would have to start over again with a new domain and no redirection capabilities from the original.

    I do think some of your "red flags" are imagined, however. Many people around the World can read and write English well, but they can't speak it very well at all. And "no video" with his Skype...I don't see how that is important, plus he probably just has a slow Internet connection.

    Oh well. He'll sell it to someone else and you can find something else to invest in.
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  • Profile picture of the author sujit1717
    Joan is right. His second ( transferring domain first) alternative was better and much safer. You could give it a try.
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  • Profile picture of the author seobuzz
    With the second alternative he provided, you were absolutely safe, because risk was on his side completely. However its up to you and your partner to decide whether to invest or not. I would also like to add, many transactions on internet, occur like this without any issues.
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