Junk Websites And Scams – A Flippa.com Review

flippa-review

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 12 months browsing through the website listings at Flippa.com. Most of the time was aghast, not at the fact that a quarter of the sites on there seem to be junk, while an even larger percentage are just pure scams. That’s not really why I have been so shocked though.

People are actually buying these things! I’m writing this Flippa.com review to try to highlight what is so wrong with a lot of the listings on there, and to give you some sound advice. There can still be some gems found, but you really have to wade through a lot of trash to find them.

If you’re looking for a guide on the best way to sell a website on Flippa, then you might be better off looking somewhere else, this article purely concerns buying.

My Flippa.com Review – Why I Know My Stuff

For the longest time I had a love affair with Flippa, believing that there could be a real strategy to buying and selling sites, or building sites and selling them, in a kind of virtual real-estate manner. I did buy one or two sites that didn’t turn out so well, and I also built and sold a few sites. I made around $1,500 in my first few sales, so not a bad amount by any means. I also have a 100% positive feedback rating:

flippa-feedback

My feedback proves that I’m one of the good guys, and also that I know what I’m talking about. I could have been happy there, but in the end the things I started to discover on Flippa while I was an active seller are what drove me away.

Don’t believe the hype.

What I noticed was that people were buying into lies, false promises, guarantees that meant nothing, and sales hype. It was amazing to see some of the junk that was getting an outrageous amount of bids on it. I got pretty sick of Flippa and eventually decided it wasn’t worth my time. Now I just list all sites on here instead.

Take this site, HumanProofDesigns as an example. Initially the sites I built here were going to be offered at Flippa, and the first 10 or so were, but only a small percentage of them received any attention.

In a world of false claims and saturated markets, my little ready-made niche business packs went largely ignored. Not to worry, I attract a better type of customer by doing it my own way anyway (people who don’t want a shortcut).

Essentially Flippa is now just another place like Warrior Forum or Clickbank. It’s filled with people looking to make a quick buck by selling something of little value, and even more people looking to make a quick buck, by falling for these claims and buying something of little value.

It’s a thriving market place where people buy and sell junk.

Where’s Flippa in all of this?

While they’ve done some improvements to help people do their due diligence, there are still some fundamental issues with this whole process (I’ll get to this later). Additionally, most of the security that Flippa offers is through buyer protection and resolving any issues. In other words, if you bid for and win a site, and the seller doesn’t deliver, or vice versa, then there’s a good chance Flippa will sort it out and you’ll get your money back.

If you win a site and that site is junk, then it’s “bought as seen”, Flippa takes its commission, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. It’s not really up to them to determine value either.

If you want to buy established sites from people who actually check out the site value and guarantee it is good, check out EmpireFlippers.com or FEInternational.com.

Video – A Case Study Of Several Sites

In the video below, I’m going to walk you through a few typical listings at Flippa and explain why the sites are junk. I’ll also highlight a good listing as a comparison.



As you can see, the typical reason most of these sites are junk is because they are duplicate content. This means there are many different versions of them that exist throughout the web. They won’t get ANY search engine rankings, and will only be of use to you if you buy traffic through Google Ads and Facebook etc.

Unless you know what you’re doing, this is just going to waste money for you. The fact that these sites also claim to be automated, require no experience, and be guaranteed profits is a joke. How can they be automated and no experience necessary if you need to pay for traffic to get success with them? How can there be a guarantee if they are currently earning nothing?

At HumanProofDesigns, every website we make is unique.

Reviewing Listings on Flippa.com – What’s The Due Diligence Like?

You are basically on your own here. Only your own experience can help you. Flippa has created this laughable “due diligence” section for its listings:

flippa

I’d like to briefly explain what makes this laughable.

1.) Google PageRank is useful for finding out whether or not a website has any backlink power, but it doesn’t tell you how high it ranks, how much traffic it gets, or whether or not the site is even worth buying. I’ve seen some terrible sites with high PR. Also, PageRank is not basically defunct.

2.) Alexa Rank is even less useful than Google PageRank. It’s weird. Because so many people cite AlexaRank as being useful, it creates this myth that it really is, but it really isn’t. Essentially it only gets data from people who use the Alexa Toolbar. Do you know anyone who does? I don’t either. You can learn more about that here.

3.) Similarly, “links in Google”, SEMRush, and MajesticSEO are all misleading (confusing even) stats. Look at the example above, 0 links in Google, 1 SEMRush link, and 831 MajesticSEO links. Is that good? Is it bad? Does it even matter? No.

To learn how to do some real sleuthing, read a guest post I made for IveTriedThat here.

Conclusions

As I’ve touched upon already, the real issue with most of these websites is that they are worthless. This is a pretty big issue. Most of them have one or more of the following things wrong with them:

  • Duplicate content (Can’t get free traffic)
  • Not tested (Can’t offer a “guarantee”)
  • Poor design.
  • No explanation of how to monetize them (They’ll get earnings! I promise!)
  • The fact they cost so little shows that they are worth little.

At the end of the day, ask yourself, if this site is all that it promises to be, why is it being sold so cheaply?

The HumanProofDesigns sites don’t make any false promises, AND come with a full training pack.

What About The Good Sites? The High Priced Ones?

If you do end up browsing the listings at Flippa, you’ll ultimately come across some of the good sites. Yay! If you can afford them, by all means bid. I’m sure I’ve given you enough guidance to identify the better sites. Generally they are ones that have verified traffic and earnings, have a clear explanation of why they work, and don’t look like they are being sold by someone who sells sites over and over again for low prices.

Many a good site has been sold on Flippa, and if you can find one (you’ll usually have to wade through a LOT of junk), then it could be a good investment, but bear in mind you will have to fend off a lot of competition, and if you can afford to buy one of these good sites, then you probably don’t need one anyway.

Final tip, nothing online that succeeds in the long term is automated.

What Next?

So you’ve been looking at Flippa because you want a website that’s going to earn you money, but you’ve been put off by my review (and rightly so!). What alternatives do you have?

The way I see it, you need my help, and I’m going to give you two options.

1.) Buy one of our ready-made sites (or talk to us about having a custom one built for you) and follow our tried and testing training to success.

2.) Learn about affiliate marketing, how I succeeded online, and get started doing the same for free. (This will take a lot longer than buying one of our pre-made sites.)

3.) Buy an established site from Empireflippers.com or FEInternational.

Any questions? Seen a site on Flippa you want me to review? Drop me a line below!

  • Vagabond

    Great advice Dom. Totally agree…I think Flippa is simply a massive disappointment as most sites under $20K seem to be pure junk and noticing a lot of banned seller profiles too! I may get in touch in the near future to see if we can work with you. Thanks.

  • afsheen

    Hi, i just came across flippa today and after reading your reviews i am quite concerned as i was going to bid for a few websites. i have seen a few sites one of them being the following: MadMaxTraffic.com if you could please review it for me.it says it makes 2500 dollars a mont.

    • Looks like a classic Flippa junk site to me. It’s only been around since May and claims it’s making $2,500 per month? Possible, but considering it has no Google rankings, I doubt it. What’s the asking price? If it’s less than $25,000 then it’s definitely suspicious.

  • Brian

    Nice observation in your video: “all positive feedback is related to a smooth transaction.”

    After seeing all the junk, I decided to make a post myself: http://www.brianbien.com/garbage-sites-on-flippa/

    The trouble with Flippa is that there’s so much garbage, it takes a long of time to find something of value. This makes the market inefficient.

  • I agree 100% – I used flippa just one time. Last year, over a 3 month period, i bought a number of Xenia amazon sites that she sold on flippa, they did great for several months, and i was making money, but the problem is, i did not know much about her, and her sites were designed to fail, and all of them would be penalized due to “thin content” I even brought this to her attention as the script would not allow me to add unique content to the products, she said no problem, you will be fine. What a scammer! It seems that she is now out of business as I see with my own eyes that she has sold her own domain for $14k https://flippa.com/4517218-105-851-year-revenue-1-amazon-affiliate-sites-selling-business-hot-offer She claims that she was making as much as $100k a year, and I believe that too as i bought as many as 20 sites from her, and saw that she was constantly selling sites also, so i thought it could not be all bad, right? I suspect that anyone that bought “amazon” sites from her paid a price in the future, and i think she went out of business because her past caught up to her. Do not ever buy a site when you see stuff like “auto-content” “auto-blog” or anything that says it will run by itself while you sleep, and yes, her worthless sites did run while i slept, and googe ran me out of town when i was awake. If your site is worth doing, then do it right, and I just have to say that xenia was a brilliant scammer, she would import thousands of products into her stores, then pump backlinks to them, as she would wait to sell her stores, they would start earning her amazon cash as she often showed the reports, and this is how she got you into the trap, sweat, that site is making $100-$500/mo, and it would at the time of purchase, but when google catches up to these sites in 3-6 months down the road, game over, and let me just add, xenia designed/sold beautiful sites, however, her core principal was to pump up the sites to earn amazon, money, then sell them off as quickly as possible, then they would simply crash months later.

    • Will Tucker

      I see shes suspended, your post must have done something! I build REAL solid sites with REAL organic traffic, no fakes! https://flippa.com/users/361502

      • thanks for the credit, but she was selling her sites before I come along, even though I did send a complaint to flippa, cant be sure of the real reason for her ban. It appears that she sold off her business before her ban, so i guess at this point, whatever ban she got was probably already mute as she had already sold her business to an unsuspecting party, assuming the sale went through with no other issues. Even though flippa does not seem to care much what goes on, they can not be ignored, i think HPD should get on flippa as flippa is still a good source of traffic for site sellers. This was Xenia’s main source of traffic, and as a result, she got a ton of sales from flippa, and if you are a good seller, then this can be an excellent seo source, and if you do get a good source of traffic, then you have to ramp up your team, as you do not want to take 6m to turn out a site.

  • Vasilis Chrisoulas

    Flippa is the biggest scam i was for 3 years there with 100% feedback from buyers so one day i bought a site from digital point and i dont realize that this site was banned from google , so i didnt like the site and upload for listing on flippa they approved take my fee for listing and after 3 days they Banned my account .

    After i have tell them the truth what happend they Ban my account and all my listings so i lose all my money i have pay for Flippa fees.

    This is Flippa scammers dont trust

  • werise

    Flippa cares about their profit from listing, premium listing, upgrades, success fee etc. There is no pricing rule in flippa somebody just resisted a domain and puts for auction with $1000,000 starting price! flippa runs joke auctions! Its a great place for scammers, jokers and money making story sellers!

  • Chris

    95% of the stuff I’ve seen in the niche I’ve been browsing there for the past 4 months is absolutely garbage. It looks like people recycle the same site ideas and resell them each month on new domains. But really, shame on you if you fall for that. But shame on flippa for allowing these scams to persist. None the less if you’re going to buy websites you should understand basic things like seo and how to check the history of sites. And don’t trust analytics on there either, that stuff can be inflated. I’ve seen a single site worth anything on there in the niche I’ve been looking at and it was very very good, but went for $25,000 which was too rich for my blood. I’ve also sold a site on there for $9,000.

    Be careful on flippa.

  • joe

    thankyou for this you saved me $300
    much respect from australia

    • Hey Joe,

      Glad to hear that! You gotta watch out for those junk sites. Let me know if you need any help picking out something in future.

  • Jeongmin Lee

    FLIPPA is 200% Junk and those people works there as well. Flippa itself is total junkies! I was new to the Flippa member and to sell websites and banned for using 2 different account and I asked to appeal and never gave me a chance back and this one junkie dude from FLIPPA, name JOSH W. thinks I tried a ‘shot’?? and probably he turned around and said” nice try” I bet that Josh dude is fat junky from the Australian farm who needs to stop eating fat ass donuts! this is what email replied from JOSH:

    Josh W. (Flippa Customer Success)

    Jun 22, 19:14

    Hi Rudy,
    I appreciate how keen you are but i am afraid we cannot overlook the severity of the actions you took on your accounts.

    Using a duplicate account to take advantage of other legitimate users for your own gain is not something we can overlook.

    We are glad you gave us a shot but we will not be able to allow you to use our site in the future.

    We wish you all the best with your endeavors.

    Please let us know if you need further information or assistance.

    Kind Regards,
    Josh W
    Marketplace Integrity Supervisor
    9am – 5pm Monday-Friday (Melbourne, Australia GMT+10)

    GUESS WHAT?? they took my freaking money $9 Do I even have to claim for it even though I was kicked out? I will never visit or refer to anyone.

    Hey Joseph Carroll, I see that you are the manager, you need to take a look at my email had sent and what you think of that. I am stay home dad raising my son and my mother.

    This is not a JOKE just being abandon people who’s trying to make money and had a plans. At least I should of got warnings before banning people.

    You look very young and young minds are just too fast these days! I don’t know how much you get pay for what you doing but you have to consider other people like your clients to look at more closely and see if there are any resolution before make any decision.

    I was so shameful to my son that I had told him(7years old) “daddy got a new ideas and this will work very good” and NOW I can even look at my son the same way I told him.

    What in the heck y’all have business for?? MONEY??? ONLY MONEY??? World is going very sad, people are thinking too much and just lost HUMAN heart!

    I hope you all have great life!!

    • Hey man,

      It sucks that you had a bad time at flippa, but it sounds like you breached their rules. I’ve explained in this post why I think there are a lot of junk sellers on flippa, and Joseph has replied below explaining what they are doing to clean it up. As such, it doesn’t surprise me that they are taking people who have duplicate accounts a lot more seriously.

      Also, im curious why you had two accounts in the first place? It sounds like you were bidding on your own stuff?

    • Joseph Carroll

      Hey Jeongmin,

      It sounds like you had a bad experience, and for that, I do feel bad.

      We want nothing more than for all of our users to have a positive experience. When that doesn’t happen, I assure you, it affects us and leaves us all feeling down. Luckily, it also gives us a chance to reflect, figure out what went wrong, and do our best to rectify it.

      In this case, however, make no mistake, it was YOU who made the decision to create a duplicate account in order to take advantage of other innocent users on our site. Stop and think about that for a second, you were deliberately trying to take advantage of another person for your own personal gain. That’s not what Flippa is about at all, and we cannot and will not accept this type of behavior on our site. We’ve got systems in place to prevent this kind of behavior, and in this case, they worked just as they were supposed to.

      Josh stood up for those users you were trying to take advantage of, and banned your accounts. instead of taking responsibility, you’ve chosen to single out Josh – one of the most honest, humble, good natured individuals you will ever meet. He’s a real person, just like me and you, and the way you’ve chosen to harass him and call him names is downright appalling and wrong.

      I’m personally offended, because I consider Josh not just a coworker, but a friend – and one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. As a father, you should simply know better. Imagine if someone were to spread the kind of vitriol you’ve just spread about Josh about your own son. Quite frankly, you owe Josh an apology. Though it wont effect your status as banned in our marketplace, it would be the right thing to do.

      I can only hope that you use this as an opportunity to think about how your words can affect other people. If you have trouble looking your son in the eyes, perhaps it is because you need to own up to what you have done and accept the consequences. Bullying people online isn’t cool.

      I really hope you learn something from this experience.

  • Joseph Carroll

    Hi Dom,

    Great article!

    I’m the Websites Manager at Flippa. I think you’ve done a fantastic job articulating some of the challenges we’ve faced as a fast growing company in an industry that is for all intents and purposes still in its infancy. That said, I want you to know that we are listening and we do take customer feedback very seriously. Because of that I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the things we’ve put in place since you wrote this article.

    “There can still be some gems found, but you really have to wade through a lot of trash to find them.”

    We’ve heard this concern, loud and clear. While we do pride ourselves on having the widest variety and largest selection of any website marketplace, I fully admit that we haven’t always done a great job of making it easy for users to find web businesses that meet their individual needs. Thankfully, helping users find the right opportunities has quickly become a pillar of our growth strategy, and one of our top priorities here at Flippa.

    In achieving that end, we’ve put in place an Editors’ Choice section of our marketplace that contains hand-selected manually reviewed opportunities. Our Editors’ are constantly browsing the marketplace and using filters and alerts to monitor for high-end digital properties. In short, while it is slightly subjective, if there is a super high quality listing on Flippa, there is a good chance it will end up in Editors’ Choice. Frequently checking the Editors’ Choice section means you’ll be the first to know when one of these high-end listings hits the marketplace.

    You can check out the Editors’ Choice for websites here: https://flippa.com/websites/editors-choice

    Another thing we’re doing on this front is working really hard to keep the scams out. We’ve now got a growing marketplace integrity team who are solely focused on keeping bad people off of Flippa. Since we’ve done this, we’ve seen a MASSIVE drop in the number of disputes. However, one problem we’ve had is that, due to the complexity of listing a web business for sale, high-quality website listings sometimes lack the necessary information to substantiate their claims, not because this information doesn’t exist but rather because the sellers lack the necessary experience and expertise to know which information to provide. On this front we’ve now got Due Diligence Analysts working directly with sellers to make sure each property has all of the information buyers are going to want.

    Clearly, the trend seems to be taking us closer and closer to a fully curated marketplace, and I I think eventually every listing on Flippa will be subject to some level of manual review – which I think would be a huge improvement. So stay tuned on that.

    “Flippa has created this laughable “due diligence” section for its listings:”

    Agreed, labeling that section as Due Diligence was a poor decision because it gave the false impression that those metrics were all a user needed to look at. Additionally, those metrics can pretty much all be manipulated in one way or another – though I still think they are helpful when considered as just a piece of the overall due diligence pie.

    With all that in mind, we’ve completely redesigned our listing page and focused on providing more data on the two due diligence metrics that matter the most: traffic and financials. We’ve also made some product side changes by requiring all sellers to substantiate traffic and revenue claims with proof – and as mentioned earlier, we’re increasingly reviewing listings and the proof they provide. Of course, proof of traffic and proof of financials are just two small aspects of due diligence that can both be manipulated and faked. However, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

    “the typical reason most of these sites are junk is because they are duplicate content.”

    This was a huge point of concern for me when I started at Flippa last July, and we’ve taken some big steps to tackle it. Most of the trouble surrounding duplicate content was manifesting in starter sites. As such, we’ve now added large warnings to make it absolutely clear when a starter site is not claiming unique content and design so that buyers are aware the seller is essentially listing a template or theme. We’re also in the process of improving website search so that people can filter out listings that are not claiming unique content and/or design. Of course, when it comes to established sites, I would still recommend using a programs and services such as copyscape to evaluate claims of uniqueness – as this is really the only way to be sure that content is unique.

    These are just a few changes we’ve put in place, and we’re working hard everyday to continue to improve the platform. I’d love to hear any additional feedback or suggestions you might have (or anyone else for that matter), and of course, I’d be thrilled if you ever decided to give us another chance. Feel free to reach out at websites[at]flippa.com

    In the end, it’s the incredible userbase of over 640,000 entrepreneurs that have made Flippa into the thriving community of buyers and sellers that it is today. I’m committed to ensuring we don’t lose touch with that userbase as we continue to grow and evolve.

  • Dom, I just had a horrible experience with Flippa where their escrow protection failed and they gave me a run around to refund the success fee. Customer service has been downright rude.

    The issue was simple. They failed to provide Escrow protection service and I ended up refunding the buyer. But Flippa was too hung up with refunding the success fee.

    The rude Customer service agent eventually drove me to dispute the fee with Paypal. They end up banning my account (I wasn’t going back to them anyways).

    I do have proofs of communication et al, to validate my above statements.

    I would definitely advise potential buyers and sellers on Flippa to be very careful. Their marketing certainly makes them see a safe/professional place to buy/sell websites but reality is totally different.

  • JAsom

    Flippa is great first option when you want to sale or buy a website but there is a lot of junk and spam so you must be careful. This is our latest experience with flippa scammers:http://www.jasom.net/website-intelligence-how-to-avoid-scams-on-flippa

    • Yeah you are right Jasom. In fact I’d recommend it’s not the best first option, because it’s easy for newcomers to get bitten. Great article you’ve got there showing some of the ways scammers try to get you. Good job.

    • Deepak Kumar

      Flippa is a complete scam!!!

      • I wouldn’t say it was a scam. There are a lot of scammers on the platform, and flippa could definitely do more to prevent them, but it’s just like eBay, if you get ripped off, it’s not because eBay is a scam.

  • Hi Dom, Chris Lee here.

    I have a website that I’d like to sell. What are your best suggestions for that? Should I try it on Flippa?

    Thanks

    • Dom

      Flippa can be a good place to sell your site if it’s something somebody would want to buy. I mean, if you are pawning it off because you failed with it, maybe somebody would still buy it, but if it’s semi-successful and you don’t have time to develop it (it doesn’t have to be financial success, traffic is good too), then it would probably sell well on Flippa.

      I’d recommend that you start out by checking Flippa listings for sites similar to yours, similar niche, or similar traffic/income stats, and go from there.

      • Hey Dom,

        Nice write-up. I agree that Flippa can be a bear to dig through on the buyer side. That’s usually because most established, profitable sites with traffic/revenue are sold privately or through brokers, leaving all the rest to Flippa’s marketplace. Some gems pass through Flippa for sure, but they seem to be few and far between.

        Some alternatives:

        FE International
        QuietLight Brokerage
        Empire Flippers (us)

        • Dom

          Hey Justin,

          Great to see you stop by here, I’m familiar with you guys and would probably use you in the future (as both a buyer and seller) as I like the fact you thoroughly vet your sellers and their sites. Cheers for the recommendations of places to buy a site, maybe I’ll have to do a review of your services next!

          • Glad to be here, Dom.

            I like what you’re up to here! I’ve come across dozens (hundreds?) of templated/personalized site creators that just aren’t that interesting, but I dig what you have going on.

            We’re heading in a different direction focusing on established, profitable sites instead of those started from scratch…but we do have buyers looking for starter sites for sale and this might be a good fit for those with a smaller budget and just starting out.

          • Dom

            Ah, it’s great to feel appreciated like that. My original aim was always to provide quality in the low-price range, so people could get started with realistic expectations. I take care of the site creation and training, and they take care of the growth.

            You are right that most other people in this category produce low quality or boring sites. What scares me the most is that they seem to claim the value in their sites is in the “3000+ articles” they come with, or even worse, in the domain name.

            I’d much rather say “Hey, this is what you need to do, it’s going to take some work, but I’m going to give you a massive head-start and walk you through it”.

            I’d definitely appreciate a nod from you guys towards my site, maybe we can work something out for your buyers.

  • I’m pretty much fed up with Flippa these days. Looking for a cheap site that will be good to start a money-making business on is pretty much a waste of time. If you are going to buy an established, legit website making a few hundred or a few thousand, the time needed to negotiate and research is well worth it. If you are looking to start out on a pre-built site or with some stuff already done for you, don’t waste your time.

    • Dom

      Yeah. Flippa will have some great sites in the higher market, I saw one up there recently that would make a good purchase, but there’s so much competition for good sites, that you will end up having to pay well over the site’s value. As for cheap “starter” sites, no way. There used to be mine of course, but now I do things my own way.