Avoiding Scams

If you’re considering purchasing a business or digital asset, it’s crucial to verify the revenue and statistics to ensure the seller is honest and the listing is not a scam.

Thoroughly investigate the traffic and revenue information to make sure it all adds up.

To avoid common scams, such as fake traffic, altered reports, and fake business financials, you should conduct due diligence and use tools like Google Analytics, Ahrefs, SemRush, AnalyzeID, CopyScape, etc.

Be cautious of red flags. If you’re spending a significant amount of money, consider hiring someone to verify the numbers and do the vetting.

Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

  1. Fake Traffic or Purchased Traffic
    Fake traffic can be generated through the purchase of traffic or the use of bots. When buying a business, look for consistent upward-trending traffic over a period of at least one year. Be cautious of older sites with limited recent traffic information or new sites with unusually high traffic numbers. Excessive direct traffic is also a potential red flag. To verify traffic information, utilize tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs.
  2. Altered Reports
    Be skeptical of relying solely on screenshots, as they can be easily manipulated using image editing software like Photoshop. Scammers may modify numbers in downloaded reports or create fraudulent reports from scratch. Insist on live screen walkthroughs of payment platforms such as PayPal, Stripe, and Adsense to ensure the authenticity of revenue reports.
  3. Sudden Spike in Revenues
    It is uncommon for businesses to experience a sudden leap from zero to significant revenue or from no traffic to millions of visitors. Revenues in such cases are often either driven by costly advertisements or entirely fabricated.
  4. Plagiarized or Duplicate Content
    Avoid purchasing businesses with plagiarized or duplicate content. Only consider sites that offer original content. Tools like CopyScape can help verify the authenticity of the content.

Red Flags

Not all of these necessarily indicate a bad or fake business. Exercise your judgment and conduct thorough research.

  1. Smell Test Exercise. Proceed with caution when encountering sites that seem too good to be true. Selling a site that generates $2000 per month for only $2500 is too good to be true. Trust your instincts and develop a sense of skepticism.
  2. Vague Initial Inquiry. Scammers often use generic terms like “the item” instead of specifying the product or service they are interested in. They may also display poor grammar or spelling in their communication.
  3. Payment Methods. Beware of requests for payment through Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s checks, money orders, Paypal, Zelle, shipping fees, escrow services, or promises of a “guarantee.” These methods are commonly associated with fraudulent activities. Using an escrow service provides security for both the buyer and seller, insist on using Escrow services whenever in doubt. Make sure you use a trusted escrow service since many online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT and operated by scammers.
  4. Fake Money Orders or Checks. When a buyer or seller suggests payment through money order or check, it should raise a significant red flag. Scammers have become adept at creating deceptive counterfeit documents, such as realistic-looking packing slips or money orders that appear to be from well-known institutions like Western Union.
  5. Refusing Face-to-Face Interaction. Scammers typically avoid meeting in person, Zoom, or phone calls. They may provide various excuses for not being able to meet. Be cautious if the other party shows reluctance or inability to have direct, in-person contact.
  6. Partial Payment Upfront. If a distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, particularly in a situation where they claim to have already shipped the goods, it’s important to exercise caution. This scenario often presents red flags that indicate a potential scam.
  7. Duplicate Content Websites. Businesses with non-original content often hold little or no value.
  8. No Google Analytics. If the seller has Google Analytics installed on their website but is unwilling to share access, it raises a significant red flag that they may be hiding something.
  9. Limited Google Analytics Data. This might not provide enough information to make an informed decision.
  10. Blocked Wayback. If the seller has nothing to hide, there should be no reason to block Wayback, a service that archives web pages.
  11. PBN or Rented Links. Does the seller utilize Private Blog Networks (PBN) to artificially inflate their traffic? After the sale, the seller may remove these links, resulting in a significant decrease in traffic.
  12. Incomplete or Poorly Written Listing. An incomplete or poorly written listing may indicate a lack of professionalism or attention to detail.
  13. Foreign Company Job Offer. When a foreign company offers you a job that involves receiving payments from customers and wiring funds, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with this arrangement. This type of situation is often a part of a scam:
  14. Fake Revenue Claims. Insist on video screen sharing to verify income instead of relying solely on screenshots.
  15. Cooked Books. Beware of fake invoices, purchased traffic, and falsified PPC numbers. If you are investing a significant amount, consider hiring someone to verify and vet the financial information.
  16. No Online Footprint. Search for information about the seller online. Do they have a LinkedIn account, Facebook page, or any other online presence? A lack of online footprint may indicate the use of a fake persona.

Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?

United States


If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.

Additional tips to stay safe

  1. Trust Your Instincts: If something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Always err on the side of caution and prioritize your safety over any potential deal.
  2. Choose a Neutral Meeting Location: If you are meeting in person, avoid meeting buyers or sellers at your physical residence. Opt for a safe and neutral location. Places with a reasonable amount of foot traffic are preferable.
  3. Protect Personal Information: Never share personal codes or sensitive information about yourself with strangers. Keep your interactions focused on the transaction and avoid divulging unnecessary personal details.
  4. Use a Separate Email Address: Create a separate email address or use a secondary email account that is not linked to your primary or important accounts. This helps maintain privacy and reduces the potential for unwanted solicitations.
  5. Consider Using a Secondary Phone Number: Whenever possible, avoid using your primary phone number for classified transactions. Utilize alternative options like Google Voice to maintain a level of anonymity and protect your personal information.
  6. Block Known Scam Numbers: If you identify a number as a scam, block it. By doing so, you can reduce the frequency of scams reaching you.
  7. Flag Suspicious Emails: Take advantage of the platform’s reporting features. Flag any suspicious emails you receive and mark them as unwanted, spam, or scams to help protect other users and maintain the integrity of the platform.

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