scam-150x112Fraud is prevalent on the Internet.  Scattered through the Net are Web-based infoscams that overcharge or steal your money for “products” that don’t work or can be found for free.  A common scheme they use is “affiliate marketing” by which they try to trick you into thinking that other consumers vouch for the product.  Yet, they can be a fairly benign nuisance for savvy Internet users who follow these basic rules for detecting scams because while the Internet is a haven for scammers, it is also their worst nightmare when you use the Internet to investigate and research just about any deal that is offered to you.  Within a few minutes, you can discover much about someone offering you a “deal”.  If you aren’t sure whether any offer that you are mulling over is a scam or not, feel free to ask us.  Just use this link to contact us and we’ll check it out for you.

Over the past few years, we’ve identified a handful of websites that market many of these scams:  Clickbank, ClickSure, and Software Projects are some of the most prevalent ones. These companies are affiliate-marketing networks for digital products like eBooks, software and membership sites in different categories, handling credit card processing, accounting and payouts for these vendors.   Some of their products currently include a number of discredited “systems” that we’ve analyzed on this blog.  Many of them used to be sold at Clickbank but got booted off.  They include:

This just a partial list of some of the Internet infoscams that we’ve exposed.   We call these sites infoscammers because they mostly follow the same template:   Product Description, Examination Record,  Review or Analysis, Site Preview, Download button,  Pros and Disadvantages and Conclusion.   Many of them also have a Leave Page Pop-Up that makes it difficult to return to your Google search.   They are hawked by affiliate websites that come by a whole array of names, such as “Daily Scam Reviews“, “Review Tools” “Scam Review Today“, “ScamX”, “Queen’s Reviews” and other such sounding websites.  The vast majority of them are  little more than automated shills for these scam sites, designed to conceal real scam reports.   They are authored by professional fake review writing services or “reputation management” companies. While they are all hawking different “products”, the share many common sales tactics:

1.   They have a link or embedded video of the product/service offer.  If the outgoing link on the review product includes an affiliate tracking code, then you can be sure they are being compensated by the link.

2.   They don’t have a link describing the qualifications of the “reviewer”.

3.   Many of them don’t have a “Contact Us” menu or reveal information about the reviewing organization itself.

4.   The quality of the writing is odd — either bad translations or boilerplate sounding sentences.

5.   The information at the web site is limited to reviews.    If the entire site is nothing seemingly impartial reviews, then the author has no expectation of having visitors return, and consequently, no risk of losing regular visitors.

6. They make some urgent Requirement for Paying a Fee or Payment.   If the deal requires an advance fee or some kind of urgent response or cash payment. If you feel any pressure to make a decision, don’t do it. Responsible financial advisors do not rush prospective clients into hasty, and regrettable, decisions.  They should welcome your scrutiny.   In fact, use the Internet to do a search for any transactions in which they’ve been involved and see what others say.

7.  They are over-complicated.  If you can’t explain the scheme to your 13-year old child, cousin or someone not savvy about business then you shouldn’t be doing it. Scammers often dazzle or intimidate their targets with their superior knowledge of finance or with complex mathematical explanations. But when it comes to financial deals, if you don’t understand it, don’t do it because you can never know whether you’ll get what you want if you don’t understand how you’ll get it.

8.  They raise conspiracies.  Some “government agency doesn’t want you to know about them”, they most all claim.  It may be true, but it’s not for the reason they assert.   The government agencies and big corporations aren’t looking to quash their ideas as much as hold them accountable for their unscientific, bogus claims.

9.  They offer guarantees.  Any offer which uses the word “guarantee” or “no-risk” should be viewed somewhat skeptically.  The only deals that is guaranteed are Treasury Bonds, and even there, some governments default on bonds.  There’s risk in almost all transactions because otherwise, your return would be close to the 1% or so that you’ll get from the bank for your savings account.   Scammers love to use those two words, so when you see or hear those questionable words in an offer, be careful.

Needless to say, don’t fall for these scams.    Make sure that whatever review site you rely upon has information about the reviewer and the organization and isn’t going to be making any money by linking you to that offering web site.  They are getting increasingly sophisticated.   For example,  “Real vs. Scam” is a very convincing faux review site.   It lists a large number of online product offerings  that are “reviewed” by some guy aptly named “Steven Wright”.   Not surprisingly, EVERY single offering that he “reviews” he seems to love.    And he has links at which you can buy all of these great products,that include the “No Think- Fool Proof Way to Lose Fat” Diet and a number of cellulite elimination programs.     Movie studios would love this guy……….but consumers shouldn’t.

Another set of dubious marketers are associated with the notorious Bill Bonner and his stable of scare-mongering investment newsletters.   They publish newsletters and bulletins that litter the Internet:  Agora Financial, Common Sense Publishing, Insiders Strategy Group, Laissez Faire Books, Money Map Press, NewMarket Health, OmniVista Health, Opportunity Travel, Institute for Natural Healing, Oxford Club, Sovereign Society, Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, The Daily Reckoning, Banyan Hill.   These are all variations on investment schemes that promote expensive and risky investment propositions.

The good news is that some large internet companies are starting to crack down on fake review sites.   Recently, Amazon filed a lawsuit against several websites that publish paid-for reviews on Amazon.   According to Amazon’s suit, the websites promise to write bogus five-star reviews for customers that pay between $19 and $22 per review.  They include buyamazonreviews.com and buyazonreviews.com  (owned by Jay Gentile).   Unfortunately, it’ll take more companies like Amazon to bring such lawsuits.   In the meantime, buyer beware of ANY Net-based sales pitch that has uncredentialed, slick video presentations with no independent reviews. It may not be a scam, but it is probably a rip-off because it is overpriced for what it is offering.   In this case, there’s lots of good diet information in the marketplace offered at a fraction of the cost of most weight loss schemes.  Save your hard-earned money.

One additional warning:  once you give them your money, you’ll be tagged as “meat”.  Once they know that you’ll fall for this pitch, the same marketers will be coming back to you over and over and over for other such pitches.  So understand that if you pay these marketers anything….let alone $40…..they’ll continue to hound you with more slick schemes designed to prey on your fears and concerns.  Don’t open your door or wallet to them.