Most Common Affiliate Marketing Scams

Traffic arbitrage and affiliate marketing are not scams in their nature. But to one degree or another, there are various kinds of scams possible here. It is important to recognize them in time so as not to lose money. This is why we compiled our article.

How companies cheat


Infobusiness is the sale of various information over the Internet. You can ​​courses, webinars, checklists and other educational products. The turnover of the infobusiness is hundreds of billions of dollars.

Not every infobusinessman is a scammer. On the Internet, there are also quality courses that are worth the money. For example, Coursera, an online education platform with courses in physics, economics, and a number of other disciplines from the world’s leading universities, also considers to be an infobusiness project.

A fraudulent information product, as a rule, is a compilation of data from open sources. There is no expert experience in it, and often nothing useful at all. Sometimes it’s just a set of motivational tips. Business courses are especially full of such scam.

If we consider the infobusiness as a fraud, then the basis in it is an expert. Such expert should be very well known and promoted. Such companies usually invite stars: actors, singers and opinion leaders to participate. Due to the recognition of an expert, users increase their confidence in the product and they buy it.

Sometimes a fraudulent scheme involves the complete absence of any product, even if it is not original. People pay for courses, wait for access to be opened but it does not happen.

“Fake product”

Goods are one of the most popular traffic arbitrage verticals. The partner launches advertising and leads the company of clients who buy its goods. However, sometimes there is no product at all as the user sends money for nothing. To fair questions from the buyer “when will I get what I paid for”, the seller either does not answer at all, or tries to shift the blame onto the supplier which can be some foreign company.

This pattern is quite common. For example, in 2019, the FBI received 500,000 complaints about such fraud, and the cumulative losses from it exceeded $3.5 billion.

As a rule, scammers create online stores for such sales, which are then promoted by traffic managers. But sometimes third-party sites are also used, such as the Facebook Marketplace.

The Best SEO Audit Tools

Financial pyramids

Pay-to-Join programs are very popular. The enrichment scheme for members of such structures is based on attracting a constant flow of people. Of course, in parallel, the pyramid can sell some trinkets, but basically money is earned just by increasing the structure.

The danger of financial pyramids lies in the fact that all the funds raised are controlled by the top. At any time, the management of the organization can take the money and leave the rest of the participants with nothing.

Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of financial pyramids among the offers. It is important for affiliates to conduct research on the product they are going to promote.

How arbitrators cheat

Certain fraudulent schemes also exist on the part of traffic managers. All of them at least lead to a loss of reputation, and even to criminal prosecution.

Clicking ads

A special case of traffic scam is advertising clicks. With the CPC payment model, where payment is made for each click on a banner or link, a dishonest affiliate marketer can instruct bots to click on ads. As a result, most of the advertising costs do not pay off as there are no real people behind the clicks. Some companies eliminate competitors in this way, forcing them to waste budgets on a deliberately unsuccessful advertising campaign.

For the company, the big problem is that it itself cannot determine the quality of the traffic and whether real people watched their ads or went to the site. Therefore, the intermediary platform analyzes the traffic. The check mainly concerns beginner affiliates who do not yet have a reputation on this site.

Although most of the clicks happen with the help of bots, they can also be done manually.

Implementation and replacement of cookies

To analyze traffic and further payment, the intermediary platform examines the cookies of users who have completed the target action. However, cookies can be embedded and replaced in such a way that the user’s actions on any site are displayed as necessary.

For example
You downloaded a browser extension with embedded cookies. And then download some picture. Cookies will make your actions look like clicks on ads.

Cookie fraud is rarely detected directly. Companies can determine fraud if, for example, the payout item for an affiliate program jumps up sharply, but sales do not increase. The platform, after analyzing the traffic, will also detect cookie stuffing, although not immediately.

Website Competitor Analysis Tools

Transaction Fraud

It is used where the target action is a purchase. Scammers use stolen payment bank cards to pay for a product or service. After some time, the real cardholder will contact their bank and cancel the transactions, but the company may already have time to pay the partner a reward.

In such cases, the business loses money both on the transaction itself, and on the reward to the fraudster, and on the cost of returning the money. Moreover, the reputation of the company will suffer immensely.

Traffic boost

If click-through ads only work with CPC models, the boost works with literally everything else. It uses a variety of ways to mislead the company, depending only on the payment model.

For example
Target action – to leave contact details. The traffic manager buys the database and keeps them, manually or with the help of bots. Pay per view? The scammer catches up with a ton of fake accounts and imitates the popularity of the advertising message.

How affiliates cheat

Intermediary platforms connecting a company and a partner can also run their own enrichment schemes. Here is some of them:


The goal of an affiliate marketer is to generate valid leads. They are skipped by the platform and a reward is paid for them. The problem is that sometimes the intermediary does not count and does not pay for the completed target action. Accordingly, the partner does not receive a reward for it either.

The fact is that the intermediary also has its own affiliates who can work with the same offers as you. It is more profitable for the platform to give money to its own person. This is how shaving happens.

To avoid this kind of deception, you should constantly use the tracker and regularly check your statistics in the affiliate program. Roughly speaking – to conduct a traffic audit yourself.


Resell is the resale of offers from another affiliate network. This is done by little-known sites that do not yet have many business partners.

Strictly speaking, this is not exactly a scam since the arbitrator still gets his reward. But due to the lengthening of the chain of intermediaries, you can lose money by 2-3 times.

Fake arbitrage teams

Alas, there are a lot of those in the community of affiliates who are ready to cash in on newcomers. There are decent teams, but getting to them for training is difficult and, most likely, not free.

The standard scheme with such scammers is as follows. You are sent to buy a special account, urgently and for your own money. There is no suitable one in Google or Yandex, then the team leader offers to buy an account on a third-party site. Prices are much more expensive there. After the purchase, the chat is deleted, and the victim is blocked in all social networks.

Sometimes arbitrage teams also launch their own courses that will teach a beginner how to deal with traffic in a week. It describes either obvious things from open sources, or outdated information.

Main Points
  • Each party can deceive: both partners, and intermediaries, and the companies themselves.
  • In order not to stumble upon fraud by the company, you should look for reviews about its work and product.
  • In order not to fall for arbitrage scammers, you need to check the traffic. You can trust only specialists with experience and reputation.
  • In order not to be deceived by an affiliate, it is worth finding the people who worked with it and personally asking about how it is with offers and rewards.In order not to be deceived by an affiliate, it is worth finding the people who worked with it and personally asking about how it is with offers and rewards.
Do you like this post?
Page copied