Offered equivalent .com domain to purchase, what is going on, and how to proceed?

A quick bit of background: I run a small (single person) software company, and operate under a domain that I have had for around 8 years. There has always been a .com domain of the same name, operating in an entirely different sector and country, but with not much going on on their website. I have always wanted the .com equivalent of my current domain, just because over the 8 years not only has business improved a little, but I also left Australia and, of course, a .com is just a little more desirable. With that in mind, I had the .com on backorder with my Australian registrar for quite a few years – but it never came up.

In the last few weeks, I suddenly got an influx of offers to buy this .com domain, seemingly from a number of different entities. First thoughts – scam of some sort. After checking out the WHOIS, it does seem that the .com expired last September, but my backorder had lapsed (great!). Registrant details are hidden behind PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC in Florida, and the domain status is clientTransferProhibited and the domain servers are NS1.PENDINGRENEWALDELETION.COM.

I am really curious as to what is actually going on here. Is it just a scam, because people have scraped details of an expiring domain, or do these people actually have access? If so, how? Has it been purchased? I didn’t (and don’t) know much about the murky world of domain name transfers, but SnapNames came up in my search and I looked on there. I did find the .com domain there, with a status of "Closed". Does that mean it came up in an auction and was bought? Or is another possibility that it is coming up for sale, and multiple people are trying to work out if it is worth buying and flipping to me? If it has sold, is there any way of finding out how much it went for? That might give me a bit of leverage in any future negotiations.

It is not, I don’t think, a valuable name. One of the potential sellers has offered it to me for $ 1299, which I might consider paying, but another question would be how does one go about purchasing a domain safely from an internet unknown?