It took a few days, but I finally figured out the business I was ready to buy was a scam. I knew it sounded too good to be true from the start – a business that earns $40K per year selling for only $25K with little money down. Long story short, the website for sale was www.toptrafficesource.com and I exchanged emails with the owner Daniele Sorres for over a week. He provided bank statements that looked pretty legit and the monthly sales numbers matched the screenshots he sent me of his order history on yahoo small business. He also sent screenshots of the traffic summary.
Some of my due diligence and research:
I paid $15 to www.domaintools.com for an upgraded membership where I could look up whois history on the domain.
- Red flag number one was that the domain was “created” on Nov 2009, while Daniele said the site has been running since 2006. After inquiring with Daniele, he said the domain expired and they had to re-register it at that time. Seems like only an idiot would let the domain expire on a website business earning $40K per year.
- Also on domaintools they have historical screenshots of what the website looked like previously http://www.domaintools.com/historic-thumbnails/toptrafficsource.com . You’ll notice screenshots from 2007 that the domain is obviously parked and not a real website business earning money, which is red flag number two.
- With my upgraded membership, I found the previous domain registrant was Chris Souraes. I contacted him with the listed email explained the situation and let him know of a couple concerns I had about the legitimacy of the business. He responded and said he was the web developer of the site and that Daniele had put a lot of time and money into it etc etc. The problem was, in an email exchanged with Daniele earlier that week he said his web developer’s name was Brian.
I tried to find some of the advertising he was paying for on MSN/Bing and found nothing.
- Googled his name
I Googled Daniele Sorres and came up empty. I then Googled his web developer’s name Chris Souraes and found a ton of rip off reports. Ripoff report 1, Ripoff report 2, Ripoff report 3, Ripoff report 4
- Searched for a duplicate website
By now I was 99.9% convinced this was a scam, but the icing on cake was to take a full sentence from the website’s homepage and performed an exact phrase search on Google with it. A number of results came up and three websites in particular had the exact same website design featuring a different name. Of course, these websites were for sale too on various businesses for sale websites.
The images below include the documentation he provided on the business. It looks pretty legit from what I can tell and there aren’t any obvious signs of doctoring the images. Also there are a few screenshots of the duplicate websites featuring the same design with a different name. Also one of them is another business listing for sale and features the same business description.
Update: Mr. Sorres has since read my blog post and created a phony rip off report about me not providing some SEO services. He said his lawyer would be contacting me, which never happened either. I am also being contacted by many people that have been scammed by this guy; I’m sorry I cannot be of more help and I’m sorry he took your money. Toptrafficesource.com seems to have been taken down, but I’m confident this guy with come up with another website for sale scam shortly.