How to Spot a Scam

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The internet marketing industry is ripe with scams, as you probably know if you’ve found your way to this article. That problem is made exponentially worse by immoral affiliates, which promote pretty much anything they think might sell regardless of how useless it is or whether it’s a total scam (more on that in my “Why the Affiliate Marketing Industry is Screwed” lesson).


I’ve reviewed dozens of products at this point, and I can pretty accurately tell you whether or not a product is a scam just by reviewing the claims the product publisher is making on their sales page. I still buy and personally review many products, but I’ve never been proven wrong when I suspected the product was a total scam going in.


There are several red flags to keep an eye out for, and in this post I’m going to outline every one that comes to mind. If you see even ONE of these characteristics in the product you’re considering buying, proceed very, very carefully and be very skeptical.


I hope you find this post to be helpful and I hope it protects you from wasting any of your hard-earned money. If you read it and find it helpful, leaving a comment at the bottom of this page and/or sharing on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/etc… would be greatly appreciated!


“Automatic” SEO/Traffic Generation Software

They’re everywhere – “automated” SEO software, “automatic” website traffic generators, “copy & paste” methods and strategies, etc… I’m sorry to say – none of these products or software programs are legitimate. That’s because these processes are impossible to automate.


There was a point many years ago that website traffic generation was somewhat possible to automate but we are way, WAY beyond that now. Particularly after 2013 when Google released several massive updates that make their search engines extraordinarily good at detecting the patterns and trails that automated traffic generation software leaves.


Also, once you have a thorough understanding of SEO, PPC, social media, etc… you’ll see that many up-to-date strategies require a great deal of logic and thinking, which is something that modern day technology can’t mimic. Traffic generation is a complex topic, and the publishers selling “automated” traffic generation software programs are depending on exactly that.


The publishers of these products know that most people don’t understand traffic generation very well, so they know that you’ll have no idea if these programs are ineffective. Many of them will actually get your website penalized in today’s search climate, so be very, very careful.


Products that Promise It’s “Easy” or “Requires No Technical Skills”

Every legitimate internet/affiliate marketer I’ve encountered has been proficient with multiple aspects of technology, myself included. Running a business on the internet requires you to interact with and use technology several times a week. Inherently, that’s going to require some technical skills.


If you don’t have those technical skills right now, don’t write this industry off completely! I didn’t know 10% of what I know now when I began my internet marketing journey ten years ago. But be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort learning several new skills if you want to make money online.


If someone is claiming they have a product that can make you rich without any technical skills, they’re probably getting ready to scam you. Be very, very suspicious.


Anyone Claiming to Share their “Secret” with You

I don’t know why, but this has become fairly common in sales videos in this industry. The product publisher discovered a secret and they really want to share it with you, but it’s going to make one person (or several people) very angry with them. This is just a sad, ridiculous sales tactic that’s become commonplace, and it SCREAMS scam. Run away from any product working this into their sales page.


Publishers Saying It’s Free, but Revealing It’s Not Free Later

I’ve seen this a few times, and if this tactic doesn’t make you lose your trust in somebody IMMEDIATELY then I don’t know what will. Some of them are pretty smooth so it doesn’t feel as dishonest, but let’s examine what they’ve done. They’ve just lied to you, then admitted lying to you, and now you’re considering giving them some of your hard-earned money?


These product publishers do this to get you to watch their entire sales video, and once you’ve heard all of their false promises and you’re completely sold, THEN they reveal a price.


Take a step back from the situation. Picture the most honest, trustworthy person you know. Now, can you imagine having a conversation with them where they tell you something is free, ramble on about how great it is and everything it can do for 10-15 minutes, then telling you it’s not actually free? In fact, everything they just promised is actually going to cost you $47 to gain access to. It’s just a really dishonest, shady sales tactic.


Any Product Claiming that You Don’t Need a Website

If you’re considering internet or affiliate marketing and are evaluating a product that claims a website isn’t necessary, that’s a pretty outlandish claim. I’ve encountered a lot of people that have attempted internet/affiliate marketing without a website and failed miserably. On the other hand, every successful affiliate or internet marketer that I know has at least one website.


Trying to be an internet marketer or doing anything on the internet without a website is like your local grocery store trying to sell to you fresh meat and produce out of the trunk of a car. They need a brick and mortar location, and you need a website.


If you’re intimidated by the idea of building a website – don’t be. The technology exists these days to make it much easier and you don’t need to know how to write code. Building your first site will take some work and a few hours of learning, but it’s totally achievable.


Pretty Much Anything Claiming that You Can Make Money Quickly

Any product publisher even hinting at the fact that you can “get rich quick” should be completely blown off and avoided at all costs. I’ve seen sales pages for many products and software programs that promise to make you rich practically overnight with almost no effort.


Internet marketing takes time and a lot of work. Sometimes it takes learning, blogging, adjusting, reworking, etc… for weeks or months before you finally break through and start making money. It took me three years off and on. Something promising money within the first few days or even the first few weeks should raise an eyebrow. I’m confident that any publisher claiming you can make money quickly is getting ready to hang you out to dry.


Any Program Where Your Success Depends Solely on Recruiting Others

These have become more and more prevalent in the internet marketing industry, and I’ve reviewed many of them. Unfortunately, all of them have turned out to be huge let-downs. The training is horrendous in all of them, and making money with their program requires you to sucker people into buying the same crappy product.


There are MLM/network marketing businesses that are legitimate – I’m not saying all of them aren’t. But everything I’ve reviewed so far in the internet marketing space has been completely illegitimate. They have absolutely NO PRODUCT. They claim that their “training” is their product, but it’s always thin, outdated, illegitimate training that doesn’t teach you anything.


If you can sleep at night knowing that you’re ripping people off, then there’s some good money to be made here. But if it bothers you to think about benefiting financially from selling friends and family members on a program that claims to have great training but actually delivers nothing of value, then this is definitely not a good path for you.


Anything Using Paid Actors

You’ll see a lot of videos these days that seem… rehearsed. Legally, these product publishers are required to disclose this on their sales page or in their website terms. Scroll down the page a bit and read the fine print at the bottom of the page, and make sure to examine their website terms very closely as well.


If you see anything about paid actors, run away as quickly as you can. Why would any product that delivered on its promises need to hire people to recommend it on camera? If the product actually worked, real customers would be lining up to sing their praises.


Be Weary of “Positive Reviews” Too

I elaborate on this much more in my “Why the Affiliate Marketing Industry is Screwed” lesson, but this industry is setup to encourage positive reviews and discourage negative reviews. If someone tells you that a product is great and you buy it through their link, they make a handsome commission.


On the other hand, if someone buys the product and gives you an honest review, warning you that it’s not worth buying, there’s no way you’re going to click an affiliate link and buy that product. So they receive no reward for being honest. That’s why positive reviews are much more common than negative reviews, even for products that are complete and total scams.


Immoral affiliates create positive reviews without even buying and reviewing the product. They just tell you it’s great and convince you to buy it through their link. Why does it matter if you get ripped off? At least they get paid. That’s the mentality of many “positive” reviewers, so be very careful of how much credit you give their reviews.


Follow These Guidelines, Never Get Ripped Off Again

I promise by following the guidelines above, you’ll never waste money on a scammy product again. It’s sad that this industry is riddled with so much dishonesty, but put everything under the “magnifying glass” outlined in this post and you won’t have to worry about getting ripped off ever again.


Please Leave a Comment & Share this Post!

Have you seen products that promise any of the above? Have you bough a product that claimed any of the above that didn’t turn out to be a bad product? Do you agree/disagree with anything or everything I’ve said? Leave a comment and let me know! I’ll make sure to reply to your comment personally.

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Author: Ian Pribyl

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  1. Why the Affiliate Marketing Industry is Completely Screwed | IM Scams | Internet Marketing Blog and Product Reviews - […] avoid buying those crappy, scammy products from these “gurus”, read my How to Spot a Scam […]

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