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How to Spot Scammers and Avoid Getting Scammed in Buying and Selling Websites

no scamScammers are everywhere, especially on the Internet. In your webpreneurship journey, expect to get scammed once in a while – it’s a learning process. Learn from my experience – here are some tips the help you spot one or two when you buy or sell websites.

I was bitter. I was tricked a couple of times buying junk websites. To say the least, those junk sites are collecting dust in my web hosting account today.

Well, come to think again, being bitter could only get you to give up on your webpreneurship dream. That’s exactly why many people are quitting webpreneurship, Internet marketing, and make money online arena with a cynical view on the whole online business thing. The worst of this situation: The bitter webpreneurs are telling others to avoid webpreneurship at all cost. If you have ever been persuaded by someone to stop dreaming making millions online, I have one advice to you: Keep your dream alive – never let others fool you!

In webpreneurship, one of the basic survival skills is to accept scams and frauds as part of your business journey. If you are persistent and resilience, you’ll soon discover ‘a sixth sense’ when it comes to scams. Soon, you’ll be able to spot scams and frauds in a blink and save yourself wasted time and money.

How to spot scammers and avoid them in an instant

Here are some tips – distilled from my webpreneurship journey – on how to spot and avoid scams when it comes to buying and selling your websites. They are not perfect, but enough to keep scammers away from you.

1. Join reputable buy and sell websites marketplace

The worst you could do in buying and selling your websites is by joining unknown buy and sell marketplaces. As a better indication whether a marketplace is trustworthy or not, let me put it this way: If you join a marketplace or forum to buy and sell websites that allows you to list for free, you’d better watch out.

This makes Flippa as one of the best buy and sell website marketplaces. You are required to pay a certain amount of fee to get your sites listed – this will naturally screen scammers. It also implements trust rating, so that you can watch out who you are dealing with – naturally, low trust rating means the seller or buyer is not that trustworthy (yet.)

Please note, joining a quality marketplace won’t hinder you from scams and frauds – your risks of encountering one is minimized, but bear in mind, you WILL meet one or two elite scammers.

An example of fraud: A reputable e-book business developer sell her ebook plus site to a buyer; the buyer pays via Paypal and ask for a refund for some obscure reasons; the buyer gets his refund, but keep the ebook plus site – this is a natural weakness of digital products. Not stopping there, the scam buyer THEN list the stolen ebook plus site as his own for a much lower price tag – and guess what, he gets buyer! This way, the scammer is getting money for nothing. Moreover, this all happens in one of the reputable marketplace!

2. Do background check on the seller or buyer

You need to learn who you are dealing with – you need to do some basic background checking. Don’t worry, you can do this using the marketplace’s user profile viewer and also search engines – just click on or type the username, and you’ll see a handful of information regarding the seller or buyer in question.

Chances are, when you search the web, you might not spot anything questionable – simply because scammers are darn good in using many personas to hide their act. One of the better bet is to search forums for some clue – this could works because you are most probably not the only person scammed by the scammer – scam victims can warn others using forums and other medium, making them a great place to do some identity checks.

3. Some typical issues that help you raise a red flag

If you are a website seller, watch out if you encounter this: A buyer place his/her bid and quickly contact you expressing their interest in acquiring your site quickly. Of course, there are buyers who are falling in love with some sites at the first sight, but this rarely happens – again, be careful, but never assume.

If you are a website buyer, watch out for the site’s earning claims. Traffic and site stats can be checked and easy to spot if there are any false claims, but false site earning is a bit more difficult to spot. Sure, earning screenshots can be given, but they can be easily forged. Moreover, if a seller has multiple sites, we don’t really know whether the earning proofs are linked solely to the sites you are interested in.

For example, if a seller claimed, “My site makes $1,000 a month from affiliate sales,” we couldn’t be that sure whether the $1,000 a month is coming from one site or 1,000 sites, can we?

Also watch out if the site’s asking price is not much different from the earning claims. For example, a site is making $1,000 a month being listed at $2,000 as its BIN (buy-it-now) price. Really – how on earth someone would want to sell his/her site at just 2 months of income? It’s illogical, and there might very well be hidden reasons in selling the site (e.g. the site could probably is declining in traffic/sales, is about to become obsolete due to new rules and regulations, etc.)

There are more things to watch out when it comes to scams and frauds, but I do hope the above can help you identify. Please share your stories by commenting on this article.

Ivan Widjaya
Avoiding scams


Ivan Widjaya is a webpreneur and an owner of a site network. He actively runs Noobpreneur.com, a small business tips blog, and CBRdigital.com, a cloud business blog .

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