January 12 69

Is Affiliate Marketing Legit? — 4 Toxic Affiliate Marketing Scams You Have to Avoid

The internet opens up lots of ways to do business, you can make money online while sitting on your cozy couch or even lying on the beach with a laptop. But when something brings money, there will always be scammers offering people to make a fortune. They make unbelievable promises about potential outcomes drawing the attention of those who are interested in new career opportunities. Yes, people may run into fraudsters anywhere, however, in affiliate marketing con men are ubiquitous. And the question is what can you do about it? First of all, you gotta understand the techniques the scammers use.

When people fall into an affiliate marketing trap, they are liable to lose lots of money, what’s more, this might also harm their good names, so stay alert. We gathered the most typical methods the cons use, so as not to get your knickers in a proverbial twist.

Get Rich Quickly    


Winning a lottery is probably the only way to get rich quickly. And it’s impossible to make a fortune via affiliate marketing in a single day. Although, oftentimes conmen looking for gullible people promise them a big buck in a day. It’s mere grandstanding what they promise. They just offer what people want and sometimes it works out as planned — crooks manage to make people buy what they offer.  

Suspicious deals are easily identifiable. Most of the time, they say that affiliates might earn a lot of money almost without effort. But the thing is, you’ll have to work hard to make something work as far as affiliate marketing goes.

That’s why you’d better stay away from colorful advertising that promises a quick buck.  

Usually, such ads just put forth the proposition that affiliates can make thousands of dollars in the short run. Instead of swallowing this bait, choose trustworthy and reputable affiliate programs whose payment policy is clear and well understood.

As a rule, a reliable company offers a comparably lower payment which looks more realistic. Different companies have different payout policies, so your earnings may vary depending on the program. In most cases, affiliates earn from 5% to 25% of the sale amount.

Pay for Membership


Offering paid membership is another widespread scam technique that would-be affiliate marketers often buy into. At first sight, paying for access to an affiliate program of a company could seem fair enough. But most of the affiliate programs are free to join like in real life where you don’t have to pay an employer to be hired. That’s the case in affiliate marketing when you don’t have to pay beforehand to become their affiliate.

Oftentimes, when you swallow this marketing hook and make payment, you probably won’t see your money again, or get any revenue out of participating in that program. That’s why you’d better question the reliability of a company before joining it. Look for feedback that the company should have already received, check the list of clients they’ve worked with. If you cannot find any solid confirmation that the program in question is reliable then you probably wouldn’t want to work with them.

Asking to pay in advance is a very common scheme in the affiliate marketing world. So, when you see someone asking for payment for membership ahead, that is a clear warning sign of a scam. If you want to find a reliable affiliate program, find the time to do thorough research. Don’t make any transactions, it is the affiliate program that has to pay you.

Fake AirPods from Amazon

In affiliate marketing, people earn on advertising other companies' products or services. Con men, in turn, may promote fake goods or services, and often they do it under the umbrella of a reputable brand name.

Oftentimes, scammers use Amazon branding to illegally advertise products and services. This is the way to drive traffic via an affiliate marketing scheme. They send fake text messages that inform users about a lottery win.

Scammers add Amazon's business name and logo claiming, for instance, that the person has won a prize like AirPods, which are quite expensive in their class of product.

They do it to make unwitting customers click on links. They promise a reward for participation in surveys.

In reality, people who click those links get redirected to online marketplaces, where they can buy products or services. Those sales are not related to the Amazon e-commerce platform.

As of last year, there were over 700 reports of such scams that impersonated Amazon. As one of the most popular company names used by cons, Amazon is second only to SSA.

Frequently, fakers create untrue customer reviews for their products or services they advertise. They may go the extra mile to hire their brand advocates or influencers on social media. Chances are, you have already run into good feedback that pitches some fake products. Negative comments are the thing that even the best companies come across. So, stay away from those who have an absolutely perfect history. A fake goes with blurry images that scammers find on some stock photo services or just on Google. Most reputable companies use high-quality photos.

First of all, check the website of the company that produces a product. If it is for real, you’ll find a website and information about their affiliate program. In case you don’t find a confirmation, it’s likely to be a fake.      

Google the name of your product and add the term "affiliate scam" to the query. If it’s a scam, other users could have already come across it before. Some negative reviews are likely to have been left on the web. Use direct outreach to ask the business owners. Write a letter to them asking whether it is their product or not. In case it’s a fake, the company owners might come up with a comprehensive reply warning other affiliates. So, you’ll help them spread the information about scammers.    

Fake Affiliate Marketing Associates

It might occur to the unassuming affiliates that a deal looks trustworthy because scammers these days use sophisticated approaches which allow their ads to lead people down the garden path. They promise career turning point opportunities.

A new type of scam came from Singapore. Cons offer a fake job for e-commerce websites. They post fake ads on Facebook or send random users messages over WhatsApp claiming that they can get a job as affiliate marketers and earn up to $500 daily. Scammers also include a phone number to contact them.

After calling, those scammers explain that the job requirement is to make a purchase in order to improve the sales statistics of a given website. They promise to return victims' money and 10% commission.

After that, a person receives a bank account number to make a payment. Needless to say that after transferring money WhatsApp number the cons used to contact their victims becomes unavailable.    

Fake Courses

That’s another commonly used technique of the fraudsters, and it's probably one of their favorite ones. Many newcomers in the affiliate marketing industry buy training courses to gain some ground in this new niche for them. Hundreds or even thousands of people are selling courses, e-books, webinars, and other stuff.

Do research before applying for a course. Most of these courses are just copies, it's information that you can get for free out of books, free videos on YouTube, and other similar sources. You won’t get any exclusive content or even more or less valuable information out of fake courses. Oftentimes, those fakers send their victims' useless stuff like pencils, calendars, T-shirts, and so forth. And get their real money for such junk.

When the course is purchased it often turns out to be some edited information that has already been available online for free. And users of these courses never get their money back.

Avoid those ads that tell you unbelievable success stories with a lot of applause and with phony social proof and no real data. These stories can be fairly old that you cannot even date back.

When checking out a success story you might find out that the author of the course hasn't succeeded himself as an affiliate marketer in spite of his claims.

Students of fake affiliate marketing courses don’t tell about a measurable success, they don’t tell right away how much money they’ve managed to earn with the help of a course or training program.

Real courses tell both tangible and non-measurable results but when you see that most of the information is just generic applause with no real data, that's a big red flag.  

Most of the time you'll find little to no indication that the author of the course helped people earn a significant or consistent amount of money via affiliate income.

Pay attention to the date on the screenshots that authors of such courses post.  

If you see a couple of dated images it’s not a big problem, though when you cannot see screenshots made for the last couple of years, that’s another warning sign. This means that the methods they are offering no longer work or they couldn’t care less about updating their screenshots. In any case, that’s not a positive sign. You should also take it with a pinch of salt when someone posts images without a date on them.

In posts promoting affiliate marketing courses, you can often find quite outdated screenshots staffed with stats the scammers are trying to impress people with. They use the same images for a couple of years in a row, which is definitely not proof that they still make much money.

Affiliate marketing is not a niche where absolutely anyone can succeed. If you see claims telling you that with a little help from a particular training program even a grandma would start making money, avoid these offers.


The rule of thumb for engaging with any affiliate program is to do your thorough research so that you don’t become another victim of scammers. There are some reliable programs out there but check them first. Before registering on any affiliate website google it first. If it’s an old scam, you can discover it having read negative reviews on the web. Try searching by various search terms like "scam + affiliate program name", "ripoff + affiliate program name", and so forth.

If you cannot find any useful info on Google, head to the company website. Well-reputed affiliate programs have professional sites. If the program in question doesn’t have one, it’s probably a fake.

If a company offers an incredible percentage of payout, don’t buy into a scam, which it probably is. Also, pay attention to the quality of products and services.        

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