I'm interested in buying a profitable website but need advice

30 replies
I've been searching for awhile on purchasing a few established websites that the current owner says are making money and they just want to sell because they are moving on to bigger projects.

There are two dating sites that I'm interested in buying and I have been negotiating with the owner but I can't get over the fear of it possibly being a scam.

What can I do to reduce the risk of sending money to someone and not getting the site transferred over to me as promised?

I had one guy tell me to send the money to his paypal and mark it as a "gift" that threw up a red flag. Any other red flags I should be looking for?
#advice #buying #interested #profitable #website
  • Profile picture of the author lutherlars
    I'll leave this for the much more experienced Warriors, but one thing I would never do is to mark payment as a gift! You might want to ask him why he wants the marking as such as there is no reason for it, only bad motives on his end.
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  • Profile picture of the author Amir Kostic
    The thing about sending payments as a gift is, that its very hard to get that money back. So if you send money to someone as gift, and you dont receive your goods, you will have hard times getting that money back. After all a gift is a gift.
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny Optimo
      You should consider using an escrow service to guarantee the transaction will go down as promised.

      Also, ask for google analytics data on the site - it's much harder to fake than server log traffic.
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    • Profile picture of the author blackout17
      Originally Posted by Amir Kostic View Post

      The thing about sending payments as a gift is, that its very hard to get that money back. So if you send money to someone as gift, and you dont receive your goods, you will have hard times getting that money back. After all a gift is a gift.
      Never have it as a gift like highlighted above. Always make sure its something that can be tracked back and recovered. Always double check to see if its genuine. Anything fishy then leave the site alone its not worth the risk of losing money. After-all you want to make money not lose money.
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  • Profile picture of the author SocialMediaOwls
    Tell them to list it on flippa and make it a private sell....that way you are protected
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  • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
    @social media owls. Good idea. I'll see if they are willing to do that.

    As far as sending it as a gift. I advised to him that I wouldn't do it that way because I have no protection in case he doesn't deliver and he said he had no idea. I asked him why he wanted me to send it that way. Only thing I could think is that it doesn't cost him fees when I send him the money as a gift. Since its a fairly large sum of money the fees cut into the profit a bit.

    I'm wondering about any other red flags to watch for?
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    • Profile picture of the author lotsofsnow
      Originally Posted by loyaltytoday View Post


      I'm wondering about any other red flags to watch for?
      You do not need any more red flags.

      The Papal gift thing is enough: It gives you all the information that you need. The only reason why somebody wants the money send as a gift is to "save" on Paypal fees.

      But that is fraud.

      A person that already admits that they are ready to defraud Paypal WILL commit fraud in other things as well.

      If you would continue with the deal you WILL find other things wrong.

      Possible things that are in stock for you:

      The database might be "borrowed".
      The traffic stats turn out to be fake.
      The traffic arrived to the site through deep black hat methods.
      The site is suddenly removed from Google.
      There might be lawsuits in the pipeline against the site (violation of copyright, stealing of content).

      A thief never steals selectively. If they try to steal from Paypal they are doing other things that are not kosher.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dash Evra
    Ask the buyers to give you access to their Google Analytics.

    All they have to do is add your Gmail account as a "user" in their Google Analytics settings in the manager section. It's perfectly safe. The only thing that "user" can do is log in and look.

    Also, there is this program call teamviewer. You and the sellers should download it. What it does it, enable you the view their computer screen live as they log in to their account. This way, you can dictate them what you want to see so you can verify revenue or anything you want. Again, it's perfectly safe.

    It's next to impossible to fake these two things I mention. So, if the sellers are not willing to do these, I would get very suspicious if I were you.
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    • Use escrow.com. Their fee is very reasonable. I just completed a four-figure transaction through them and I couldn't be happier.

      Do not send money through PayPal.

      fLufF
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      • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
        Thanks Fluff! This transaction will be four figure as well and I'm really trying to make sure I don't lose money.

        Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

        Use escrow.com. Their fee is very reasonable. I just completed a four-figure transaction through them and I couldn't be happier.

        Do not send money through PayPal.

        fLufF
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        • Originally Posted by loyaltytoday View Post

          Thanks Fluff! This transaction will be four figure as well and I'm really trying to make sure I don't lose money.
          The seller may agree to split the fee with you as well. I was the seller here and I had no problem with that. It's really in everyone's best interest.

          fLufF
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    • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
      Ok I asked him if he would add me as a user. I know he uses gmail as that is the email he asked me to send him the money via paypal. Plus the site generates all its income via adsense and membership fees. He sent me his paypal statements but I haven't seen his adsense or analytics.

      Originally Posted by Dash Evra View Post

      Ask the buyers to give you access to their Google Analytics.

      All they have to do is add your Gmail account as a "user" in their Google Analytics settings in the manager section. It's perfectly safe. The only thing that "user" can do is log in and look.

      Also, there is this program call teamviewer. You and the sellers should download it. What it does it, enable you the view their computer screen live as they log in to their account. This way, you can dictate them what you want to see so you can verify revenue or anything you want. Again, it's perfectly safe.

      It's next to impossible to fake these two things I mention. So, if the sellers are not willing to do these, I would get very suspicious if I were you.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dash Evra
        I don't know much about Paypal statements. So, I don't know if those can be faked or not.

        The best way to check is for him to add you as a user for his Analytics as I explained above. If he doesn't want to do so, odds are, he is hiding something.


        Originally Posted by loyaltytoday View Post

        Ok I asked him if he would add me as a user. I know he uses gmail as that is the email he asked me to send him the money via paypal. Plus the site generates all its income via adsense and membership fees. He sent me his paypal statements but I haven't seen his adsense or analytics.
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      • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
        Banned
        Originally Posted by loyaltytoday View Post

        Ok I asked him if he would add me as a user. I know he uses gmail as that is the email he asked me to send him the money via paypal. Plus the site generates all its income via adsense and membership fees. He sent me his paypal statements but I haven't seen his adsense or analytics.
        All income screenshots can easily be faked. If it's a Flippa auction and you'd like me to take a look and tell you what I think, just pm me. Don't worry, I'm not in the market. I sell websites myself.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
    Thanks Dash! I never even thought about asking if them if they have google analytics installed. I was just looking at the traffic from compete.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    OMG ... a gift. Good one. Scammer for certain.

    Use escrow.com. They are the middleman that protects both you and the seller.

    Here's a thread that gives some more tips for not getting ripped off.
    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ipped-off.html
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    • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
      Ok will do! I actually read that before posting my thread! I saw a lot of good tips. Very good thread thanks for sharing. =)

      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      OMG ... a gift. Good one. Scammer for certain.

      Use escrow.com. They are the middleman that protects both you and the seller.

      Here's a thread that gives some more tips for not getting ripped off.
      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ipped-off.html
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  • Profile picture of the author oleynick
    @loyaltytoday: Ask him to do a live video feed where you can watch in real-time how he will login into his paypal account and show you all the statements one by one along with everything else you want to see, that way you will make sure that he is not faking the statements, etc. If he is a legit seller, he should not have any problems agreeing to your request because he will have nothing to hide and you will not see his passwords, etc., because they will be under asterisks anyway!

    If the person is making money everyday, or even better every hour, another trick I used is to ask to chat with them, than once they are chatting with you, tell them to send you a screen shot with earnings for the past few hours... since he is not prepared for such a question and will not have time to photoshop the earnings, if he will send it to you in the next few minutes it probably means that he is legit, if he starts making excuses, etc., it probably means he doesn't have time to photoshop them and is BS'ing you...

    Let me know how it goes and good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Oliver Denton
    Avoid Paypal for larger transactions altogether. Use escrow.com as suggested by others. If his earnings are from adsense, affiliate programs, ask for access to his accounts. There is no risk in him/her giving you access. You can't really steal their account. I know, there will be difference of opinion here.

    Get the seller's phone number, use skype and call him/her. You get a feel for the person.

    Finally, follow your guts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bondtana
    Escow.com is pretty much foolproof if you are buying a domain/site.

    Don't try to save a couple bucks now and then be left out in the cold...
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  • Profile picture of the author BrandyM
    Thanks everyone! I had no idea about escrow.com and I've gone through every flippa site I can possibly find and can't find one that generates the kind of income I'm looking for or the niche I want to enter or is within my price range! I'll keep looking and now I have at least have some more knowledge on what to look for. It's like buying a car. If you don't have a mechanic look at it under the hood you could be buying a lemon. This is the only place I could think of that would have experts that know what to look for. or "website mechanics" lol I know how to build my own I just don't know how to buy one from someone else.
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  • Profile picture of the author TryBPO
    Many of the true scammers are pretty obvious to spot, but some of the sellers that might be just a little less ethical can pull some tricks that are hard to catch. I don't have the most experience buying websites, but I know as a seller some of the things you CAN use to not be as up-front with buyers as they'd like you to be.

    Probably the best tip I can give you is that you shouldn't do business with anyone on Flippa or elsewhere that hides behind anonymity. There's a chance they "might" be legitimate, but more often than not there's something fishy. Have their LinkedIn, other websites, forum handles or other places they "hang out" online, phone number, etc. Google search their full name in quotes and add the word "scam" or "sucks".
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  • Profile picture of the author EFt
    Well all the things I was going to suggest have been posted and they are use escrow, Flippa and get them to make an analytics login for you. good luck with it, let us know. Also, don't rush into it,take your time, better to research and pick up some knowledge, I would spend weeks browsing flippa until you get some experience in this.

    edit: if you have little experience I would suggest hiring an expert to help, I'm sure there are people who specialize in this if you search online!

    edit again, I see sbucciarel might be a good person to speak to....
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  • Profile picture of the author JamieSEO
    Depending on the value of the purchase.

    Less than $500 - use a private sale on Flippa
    Over $500 always use an escrow service such as Escrow.com (I use them frequently for high value transactions both as a buyer and seller and have been impressed).
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  • Profile picture of the author chris1985
    I wanted to buy a website once, looked really well and made good money on AdSense. It was $2000. I was really excited. Then, I asked my friend to check it out, since he knows more about flipping websiotes. He said it's Ok but what he would like to see is a video of this guy loging into his AdSense account. For someone who is going to cash in it shouldnt be a problem to make a short video like this.
    The guy didn't do it, I didn't buy it. Later it turned out it was a scam. It wa son Flippa. So be careful!!!! Definitely ask for videos, nowadays that's the best way to avoid scammers.
    Hope it helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author trytolearnmore
    Well, you definitely will have to use Escrow services to stay on the safe side.
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  • Profile picture of the author dorianjohn425
    Like what everyone else is saying, ditch paypal for the transaction. Use an escrow service like escrow.com for your own protection.

    Yeah, the gifting thing on paypal is a scam. Been burned by that before, fortunately, it was only $120 (paying a new service provider in advance - he requested me to declare it as a gift so that we can circumvent paypal fees and taxes).
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