How to Spot a Potential Scam on Flippa - Domain Magnate

How to Spot a Potential Scam on Flippa

How to Spot a Potential Scam on Flippa

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Unfortunately, they are not as rare on Flippa as you might think. I stumbled upon this auction recently and right away some things seemed very strange about it right away.

Upon further investigation, you can easily discover that:

The domain was registered only a month ago, yet the site already makes thousands of dollars per month in amazon

All social accounts have fake followers:

The site doesn’t rank for anything according to live data.

There are 4 bids by the same person from $1,999 to $9,999. And the next bid is going to reach the reserve.

When asked about sources of traffic in the auction comments his replies were rather elusive. Claiming organic and social traffic – while there is clearly none.

Sites just don’t start to get 10K organic visitors from google per day for no apparent reason, in a couple of weeks after they are built! Especially considering all duplicate content, no real backlinks, and no visible social presence.

I was able to get access from the seller to see GA stats and they looked fairly good from a quick look. However:

  • almost all organic traffic.
  • 98% of page views are on homepage – which is unlikely for a site with thousands of pages.
  • there was quite a lot of traffic from so the seller likely bought many Fiverr gigs
  • the site doesn’t rank anywhere in for any of the keywords listed in GA!

After confronting the seller that his stats look fake, he promptly removed me from GA and stopped communicating.

More details on how to identify and avoid Flippa scams available for site investment course subscribers.

Update: Flippa suspended the auction pending further verification, based on my report. Also more details available here

11 Replies to “How to Spot a Potential Scam on Flippa”

  1. More than half of the domains and websites listed for sale on Flippa are misleading and lying about something or the other. You have done your research on one of these scams posted there right now but just think of the Millions of dollars that went down the drain over the years because of such fake listings. Flippa makes their money through listing fees and boy do they make a lot through it.

    They started off their website by stating that a particular domain called sold for 250k. Now the same domain is being auctioned for less than $15k. Seems like Flippa lied about the sale since it’s difficult to imagine someone paying 250k for a domain name like and then letting it expire just 4 years later.

    There are numerous scams on Flippa that have been reported online over the years but they cunningly balance it well by pushing through some real and genuine sales from people such as you. That’s why it seems like your eyes are opening only NOW.

  2. I agree with you, but I take a different approach. Flippa is a big marketplace, while they could certainly do a better job on verifying some stats, following up on reports and acting faster in such cases you can’t expect them to check every single website like this. It’s much better to educate the buyers and give them the knowledge and tools to do their own due diligence and learn to check these type of sites on their own.

    Concerning I don’t know the full story, so can’t comment, however it’s definitely a valuable domain name.

  3. Thanks for the quick reply. What you say makes sense. Unfortunately some of us realize this a bit too late and end up losing hundreds of dollars before we stop listing and buying sites for sale on Flippa. Anyway, I see that you have a few sites on sale there now (or perhaps in the recent past). Do let us know how those turned out. Thanks once again.

  4. If there was ever a perfect auction scam, this would be it.

    Not because it’s particularly clever or elaborate, but because it contains a little of almost every scammy element available to a crooked seller!!

    I haven’t seen the GA, but I’m guessing the Google organic traffic was fake? (which many people still don’t realise is easy to do). IMO, it’s why looking at the behaviour of each major traffic source is important. It’s easy to buy organic visits, but much harder to show diversity in locations, browsers, screen sizes, mobile / tablet / desktop, visit duration, landing pages etc. Unless the person sending the traffic has been extremely diligent, you can usually tell within minutes that something is up.

    It raises the question as to whether marketplaces should be opinionated. For example, should Flippa prevent anyone listing a domain / site under 6 months old to claim anything above a sensible level as verified without a manual review first?

    Thanks for the find – I’ll certainly be using this as an example in tutorials, although it seems the auction is now suspended!


  5. Hi Justin,

    good thoughts, yes that’s exactly the point. The seller did quite a “good job” taking care of all the basic elements: GA stats, social, revenue screens. It’s in fact relatively easy to fake, however you can’t fake outside tools like so it’s also fairly easy to identify such scams. That’s why I think we should strive to educate new buyers a little better about it than blame the marketplace for all.

    I think Flippa could definitely try to have stricter rules and more diligent and faster support to react to such fraud attempts. However we likely can’t expect a large marketplace to check every single site for potential discrepancy.

    Possibly some triggers like the one you mentioned when new sites claim high revenue could be applied and then sites checked manually. However that is also easy to circumvent as older domains can be acquired cheaply.

    I sent a report to flippa with some quick details of why it’s a scam (fake social followers, no google rankings etc) and they replied that they suspended it pending explanation from the seller, so we’ll see what happens later.

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  10. Flippa is great first option when you want to sell or buy established website and it attract many scammer too. We also met such one recently. My yet-not-so-experienced business-partner won action without verified Google Analytics and Adsense data. I described whole case in blog article “Website intelligence: How to avoid scams on Flippa?”

    I hope it helps somebody.

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