He and his wife Michele Parker O’Riley are happy with the money they scammed out of me. They are Americans living in Prague, which makes it impossible as a practical matter for me to sue them.
My hope in preparing this site is to prevent anybody else from getting scammed by Damien and Michele.
I’m going to tell you exactly how it happened to me, so that you can make sure that you don’t fall into his same trap. He seems nice and trusting enough, he acts like he cares and really wants to help. But don’t be fooled. Damien O’Riley is a liar, a scammer, and a con artist. He will say or do anything to make you trust him just enough to take your money and run.
So let’s start at the beginning. I have always wanted to own and operate my own website as a small business. I’d been trying for years to start a website, but I didn’t know just quite how to go about turning a website into a business. One day a friend told me about a site for sell on Flippa that was perfect for me!
The site for sell seemed perfect for me. I was (and still am) extremely passionate about learning languages and helping other people find the tools they need to learn a language. This was a high ranking website (PR4) with lots of back links and an almost 6,000 person customer list.
The owners, Michele and Damien O’Riley stated that the site had been getting tons of traffic, and generating $10,000 – $12,000 a month in profit. LanguageWrangler.com had been a successful and lucrative affiliate and drop-shipping website for language learning products such as Rosetta Stone and others.
Since they had let the affiliate licenses of many of their products lapse, Michele and Damien said they would handle adding my new affiliate products to the site and continue to do SEO marketing for an additional 3 more months on top of the 3 they were advertising for a total of 6 months free SEO.
They had sold other sites on Flippa and had a good “trust” rating, so I thought I could trust them too.
Before purchasing the site, I had a couple of phone calls with the seller of the site, Damien O’Riley. I was nervous about spending such a large amount of money ($35,000) on a website that didn’t have an current income or products. And because of the fact that he lived on the other side of the world.
However after speaking with Damien via Skype, he reassured me that he and is wife Michele Parker O’Riley would help me get new products on the site, do additional SEO marketing for 6 months and help me get profitable quickly.
I also knew that with a list of 6,000 past customers I could generate some sales quick, so I bought it. Hook, line and sinker. On February 28, 2010, I sent Damien $35,000 via escrow.com to buy the site.
I was really excited to start working with Michele and Damien. They started out really proactive, communicated by email with me daily. They transferred the site to me quickly, and things seemed to progress quickly. I even wrote a positive recommendation for Damien on Flippa for another person interested in buying a site from him.
Within two weeks of sending them the money, I had done everything I could do on my end, from signing up for affiliate accounts, to getting approved for a merchant account. Now, I just had to sit back, let Damien and Michele add the products like they said they would and prepare to start processing orders.
However, that never happened.
After their initial brief flurry of activity, weeks went by with zero activity from the O’Riley’s. Products weren’t being added to the website, traffic numbers stayed at 0 – nothing happened! Then, when I tried to talk to them about this lack of activity, Damien was “too busy” to ever speak to me.
Needless to say, I was getting seriously worried.
Anytime I would question them about why they hadn’t added any products and the hopeless lack of activity on the website, the answer kept coming back to “technical” problems with Magento.
First off, I’m no technical newbie. I know PHP, I know WordPress, I know how to do CSS and HTML. I’ve built many websites, and worked for a web analytics company and other high tech software companies. I know the Internet, but this site was heavily customized by Michele and Damien. At this point, it was obvious that it wasn’t, and had never been, “hand-over” ready.
“How can this be?” I began asking myself.
Numerous times they had to get THEIR programmer to work on the site, just to do seemingly simple stuff like changing the admin email address. They had to order “customized” scripts to be written, but their programmer was always out of town. Delay, delay, delay, problem after problem.
It seemed strange to me that not only was the site not “hand-over” ready, but that they were suddenly having so many problems with a site that they built, operated and generated orders from for so long.
The initial con was beginning to become clear.
After 60 days, my new site that had supposedly been making its previous owners between $10,000 and $12,000 a month was getting no traffic, no orders, and no customers. When I asked about the 6 months of SEO linking that they were going to do, Damien said that he couldn’t start until all the products were up on the website. But, for whatever reason, they weren’t adding products to the website.
So here I am stuck with a new site, that technically doesn’t work, a new CMS with no products and with people who aren’t helping me who promised me that they would. The only thing I could possibly think of doing, as a last resort, was switching it to another CMS that I already knew how to use.
Finally, after months of inactivity and dodged conversations, I was able to get Damien on the phone.
When I expressed my frustrations and told him I was changing the site’s platform, he seemed personally offended. It was weird. He acted as if I was going to ruin a masterpiece that he had created.
He said the problem was ME! And that he was so confident in the site he had sold me and in his SEO ability to drive traffic that he could make LanguageWrangler.com earn $75,000 in sales within six months or he’d pay me the difference out of his pocket. He was even willing to sign a contract to that effect. The catch? I had to “hire” him as an SEO, and keep my hands off the website completely.
Ready to see the actual contract?
Like a sucker, I bought it. I signed the contract and wired another $10,000 to his bank account.
May 5th through November 5th the site was back in Damien’s hands. And this time, he had a stake in making the site make money. Or so I thought. Again, there was little to no activity on the site. I stayed “hands off” as Damien asked, but tried to be as helpful as possible by repeatedly asking if there was anything he needed from me. Most of the times he wouldn’t email me back. He definitely wouldn’t get on the phone, and when he did he would often lash out at me and tell me that I was demanding and a control freak. Many of our conversations ended with me in tears.
I kept telling myself to hang on until November 6th and that it would be over one way or another after that. I’d have my site operational or have the money in my pocket.
But the months rolled by, June, July, August, still nothing had been done on my site. I don’t think he ever even logged into it. By the beginning of September he realized that he was going to have to pull in $75,000 with a site that had no products, and no traffic, in two months.
He approached me about renegotiating the contract for more time. More time to do what? He hadn’t done anything at all since transferring the site to me in February!
I asked him to at least do some work on the website before we discussed renegotiating the contract, and maybe the website would start generating a little bit of money. I just wanted to see something ANYTHING happen with the website.
About a week before the end of the contract, I told him that I wasn’t interested in renegotiating the contract because I didn’t see any work that he had done. I just wanted him to pay me the $75,000 that he said he would and then walk away from him.
He let me know that he was doing all of this for me out of the goodness of his heart, because he “doesn’t need my money, he has clients that pay him $20,000 – $30,000”. He yelled at me on the phone and made me cry. He posted stuff on Facebook about me also made me cry. I told him – that his facebook post really hurt my feelings so he deleted me as a Facebook Friend.
Even though he was completely in breach of contract and now legally owed me $75,000, (read the contract again: no ambiguity there!) I still tried to give him an easy way out. I asked an SEO friend of mine to work with Damien to come up with a plan that would allow Damien to renegotiate the contract, or “work off” the $75,000. He flat out refused to do it. My friend spent months trying to hammer out a compromise that Damien would agree to.
At this point, Damien still refuses to pay me the $75,000 that he legally owes me, and has owed me for almost a year. He even refuses to do any SEO work on the website as a way to “work off” the $75,000. What kind of guy is this? He promotes himself as a mad scientist genius SEO expert, but in all honesty, he is a liar and a cheat!
Don’t trust him, don’t buy from him, be safe and don’t even talk to him!
The bottom line is that both Michele Parker O’Riley and Damien O’Riley are complete con artists. They make you think that they are your friends and that they want to help you succeed, but really they just take your money and then do no work at all. Do not believe anything that they say!
I wish that I had seen these two other articles about people that have been conned by Damien and his wife, Michele before I bought a site from him on Flippa:
I gave Damien almost a month’s warning that this site was going to be public. His predictable response was to blame me for everything, and deny any responsibility on his part. Yet I have paid him $45K, and he has promised to pay me $75K, and I have nothing at all to show for it. The rest is all Damien doing what he does best, mouthing off. He never even offered me one red cent.