Affiliate Marketing Scams: The Truth You Need to Know



What do Patt Flynn, Neil Patel, and John Chow have in common? They are some of the most successful people in the affiliate marketing industry for many years.

How big? These guys can now earn THOUSANDS of dollars from it alone.

And this group is not exclusive. According to Investopedia, at least 9% of publishers generated over $50,000 of passive income. It means that for a couple of hours’ legwork, they can already sustain a business and increase their disposable earnings.

It is, therefore, not surprising that so many people want to venture into affiliate marketing. In fact, the desperation, need, and eagerness are so high that they, unfortunately, fall into some of the worst and costliest affiliate marketing scams.

What Are These Scams?

These scams can change over time. Hackers may become more technologically savvy, or new digital marketing trends become popular. The most common ones include the following:

  • Earnings promise, where the company seems to guarantee significant profits in only a short period.
  • Alibi products (or even missing products), which simply means you’re not selling anything at all. The product itself doesn’t exist.
  • Fake training, which is when companies let you sign up for a supposed webinar or a free e-book, but you don’t get anything. What happened? They might have already stolen your data.

Some affiliate marketing scams are suave that people can fall for it easily:

1. Phishing

Phishing scams occur when a person receives a malicious email. This letter may be touting “secrets to affiliate marketing” or free stuff to help you start. What you don’t know is you may already be downloading malware into your system. This will infect your computer and begin to gather personal information stored in it, such as financial data. Hackers may also steal your identity.

2. Pyramid Scheme

Affiliate marketing pyramid schemes are not far-fetched from that of traditional MLM companies. In this process, the brand feels and appears legitimate. It may have real products that you can sell. It provides marketing support and training to help you make a sale.

The problem comes in when people who recruit you actually earn money from every person they can invite and sign up. To increase their income, they may eventually compel you to do the same.

It is a pyramid scheme, and it is illegal because it can collapse anytime. Only those who are the top of the pyramid that earn a lot. Those below them will struggle to recoup their investments.

3. Redirects

Redirects are sophisticated affiliate marketing scams. Unless you know how to protect yourself from these illegal activities, you’ll never really know you’ve already fallen for it. It’s because the scam is staring at your face.

How does this work? There are many ways scammers do it:

  • They redirect you to a fake website, where you will input your name, email address, and other personal information. The system then steals these data from you.
  • The websites may present themselves as affiliate marketing programs or software that should be helping you make the process easier. What is actually happening is it inserts another affiliate code. In the end, other people make a sale from your efforts.
  • They clone other people’s websites. These are usually sites from top affiliate marketers.

Stop Falling for These Affiliate Marketing Scams

Is affiliate marketing hard? It is, but no business is a walk in the park. It always comes with birth pains. For beginners, though, it hurts more when they fall into these different scams. Fortunately, there are many strategies to protect yourself from them:

1. Practice Due Diligence

Due diligence is the foundation of a contract, negotiation, or even sale. Before you buy something, you research or investigate. Is it good? Will it work for me? Does it match my needs? These are the questions that will guide you through the process.

You can also apply the same thing to prevent falling into affiliate marketing scams. Ask:

  • What are the people saying about the publisher or the website?
  • Does the product exist?
  • Who are the people behind the brand or the company?
  • How long have they been around?
  • What is their track record?

2. Check the Site

You also need to extend your investigation to the website. Mind you, many of them will look legitimate, so pay attention to the following:

  • URL – Scammers can get away with it by adding or deleting only a character of the original URL. Check for typos and insertions.
  • Content – Take time to read some of the pages. See if it has verifiable information, which may include a phone number or office address. Does it have a blog? Is it updated? Can you see the same content somewhere else? Be wary of those that have thin content but lots of links.

3. Get Things for Free

Every marketer knows that the way to other people’s hearts is to give them something with no strings attached. It’s one of the reasons why freebies are so popular—and effective—marketing tools. If the publisher or site doesn’t give you any, avoid it. There’s no way you’ll know that it’s legit.

4. Trust Your Instincts

Do you know that every person has intuition? But even if you feel that you don’t, you can always remember the cardinal rule: if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Some of the common false claims in affiliate marketing scams are:

  • Fixed earnings, because income can change over time.
  • Quick results, because even the most effective affiliate marketing strategy takes time to produce favorable outcomes
  • Products that everyone would want, because target markets can differ
  • Software or programs that can resolve your woes, because it takes more than these tools to succeed

Is affiliate marketing legit? Yes, it is, but not everything you see or hear about it is real. Don’t rush—think and decide. Otherwise, what could have been a legitimate opportunity ends up bleeding you dry.

About the Author:

Peter Keszegh is the founder of OnlinebizBooster, a digital marketing website and blog. He authors in-depth guides that teach online biz owners ways to grow, manage and scale their business. When he is not doing all those, he loves trying out new things and discovering new places. If you want to learn modern marketing strategies, head over to his website – OnlinebizBooster.