Fraud and How to Fight It


Right now affiliate marketing is a very thriving field, you can succeed here without any special education and any secret knowledge. It opens big opportunities for everyone equally, so if you’re not afraid to try once, you might become a wealthy professional later. And no matter how many good and promising chances it can bring, there’s always a flip side of the coin. No wonder that fraud and scams are constant things in any business and affiliate marketing is no exception. You will often hear and sometimes, unfortunately, face with them. We bet you agree that there is nothing pleasant in this and you’d rather avoid these situations. To avoid them you need to know at least some of them, right? So, we’re prepared a list of the popular kinds of fraud in affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll be fully armed and on guard and be so ready to earn money but not to lose them!

Exclusive Trainings for Newbies

Let’s imagine you’re new to the field and don’t really know all the aspects and nuances of buying traffic, analyzing campaigns and what not. It seems to be a good idea to buy some trainings, webinars, e-books and so on from professionals who gathered all the tips for a whole lifetime and ready to share them with you for a modest sum. We’d suggest you being careful and really dig into some reviews or proofs that thoughts of this person are actually worth listening to, not even buying. The Internet is the biggest resource of our time, there you can find a lot of free and relevant information and if the person asks to pay you money, it doesn’t always mean you’ll get a quality product, unfortunately. Still there are people who manage selling the common truth in the shape of ultra-exclusive program. But in fact, you can find many group chats in Skype, Telegram or various groups in LinkedIn and Facebook, there are a lot of experienced people who will give you an advice about any question absolutely voluntarily and most of the time they can even suggest a time and money worthy programs. Affiliate marketing has a big community that very eager to help each other as we all know how sometimes a well-formed pitch can do most of the work or you notice numerous connections in LinkedIn and you’re finding yourself in the middle of filling in your bank card details. But they don’t let you do that! Unless you’re fully sure with what you’re purchasing. 

This can also relate to some networks which happen to occur within one day, demand a prepayment and disappear after they got your money. If you google something like ‘Affiliate or Ad Network Scammers’ or check LinkedIn feed, you’ll find many furious and revealing posts. How is it possible to avoid? Just be aware and often ask for or even look for yourself some proofs, reviews, any information that can confirm they’re an actual figures in the business. Sign an IO (Insertion Order), ask for references from other clients. Real guys will be only glad to clear up all your doubts, so the general motto is ‘Trust but verify’!

What Is a Fraud?

Let’s move on to the next thing. Actually, fraud is a quite often-used word in affiliate marketing. Basically, it’s what you should not do as an affiliate, otherwise shame on you and no fame and wealth at all. Yeah, easy money, that’s what we all want sometimes but this is the case when your dignity is at stake! Imagine, you got on offer in some affiliate network, now you need to send traffic to it and you choose to send the poor-quality one as it’s obviously cheaper.

What is a poor-quality traffic? One type of it is a bot-traffic, that is a script which generates clicks or impressions. Some of them are very easy to track and block as they have the same IP-address, user agent, cookie IDs. Of course, there are some complex bots which could imitate patterns of a human beings’ behavior, for example, it’s possible for them to set up an average CTR, make a test deposit or a sale, fill in some data and etc. They can even simulate a mouse cursor movement in WebVisor. Can you imagine that?

Another thing which is also important to mention talking about poor-quality traffic is an incentive traffic. It’s the traffic that consists of people driven to perform a certain action (install, registration and etc.) by some kind of reward, so the users are not interested in the product at all. That’s why not without a good reason advertisers set such high payouts to affiliates for gambling offers, they’re very interested in people who would play the casinos or for e-commerce offers, in users who would buy some goods, the same with the install offers. Once again advertisers are interested in those leads and in their following and long activity. With the incentive traffic, there’s nothing like that. Some think it’s smart enough that they’ve received a payout by bringing such kind of lead but usually networks have a way to check everything in a fast and correct way, no surprise that later those affiliates find their accounts deactivated because of fraud.

As we’re an ad network we’re often asked about our quality of traffic and what is the amount of bot one. We do check quality of our traffic and pay a big attention to it. Our especially developed anti-fraud system helps us fight against those fake clicks. You’ll always receive only filtered and good traffic. Even in general, don’t always blame your partner for the traffic quality, take part in everything yourself. We keep reminding you that often the problem could be with your offer, it could be connected with the product itself, with the creatives, maybe with the target audience. It’s so important to make tests and compare your results with different geos, creatives and offers. So, control your account, check your balance and optimize your campaigns, also don’t forget about making BLs or WLs for your campaign, it helps a lot with the quality.

Cookie Stuffing Is Not What You Think

Let’s mention here another type of fraud called cookie stuffing. We wish it could be related to a nice tea time parties full of cookies and biscuits but, unfortunately, it’s not. We’ll spend some time here dwelling on this topic. In a few words, cookie stuffing is replacing your cookies with someone else's, or even easier it’s changing the data about you on the Internet to the data of another user. Why? What is the use? So, you could receive a bonus or payout of another person.

What is a cookie? Sites use cookies to store user data, for instance, account information or what is in your shopping cart if it’s an online shop. Cookies are also used to collect some information which is later applied to ads. In affiliate programs, cookies are used to track users which are brought by webmasters and partners. So, basically, the fraud affiliates get the payouts for sales they don’t relate to at all. How to deal with it? Don’t install the unknown software programs, extensions or toolbars and work only with trustworthy developers. 

Black Offers

Another advice from us is to really pay attention to which offer you choose to promote. Again not everything you face with is always good to go and you can trust them from the beginning. There are some black offers which are totally inappropriate to work with, for example, they’re asking for bank card details, all in all, being totally misleading to the users. It also relates to the offers which make damage to users’ computers. The biggest con of it is those offers are often prohibited by the law. We strongly insist on not choosing them. Not to say a word, those affiliate networks will give you a doubtful way of income and who knows what it could lead to later. 

Anyone Can Face With Phishing

Have you heard anything about phishing? Often it goes in hand with the black offers. Well, this kind of thing is common on the Internet in general and can relate to any user. Phishing is the crime of deceiving people into sharing sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers. We bet you have seen some odd spam mailing asking for your personal details, it can be either your bank or some social networks, any kind of resource which could have your personal data. Our advice is to pay attention to the URL-link in the address bar as you’ll see some extra letters in it which makes it not Facebook, for example, but Faceloook. Another sign which can help you understand that something is suspicious is when you don’t see letter ‘s’ in ‘https://’ and there’s no green sign near it. It means the connection is not secure and you definitely shouldn’t fill in any private information.  

Be Careful With Too Creative Creatives

Or sometimes an affiliate decide that creatives are not that good, they don’t catch users’ attention and it’d be better to embroider some facts buy by doing that he already gives a false information about the product, that is called a mislead. Usually this term is applied in e-commerce and nutra verticals. This slight form of fraud does nothing good to both sides. For affiliate this lead could be annulled, the user haven’t approved the purchase as it turned out a different thing and an affiliate program just doesn’t get any sale or just money.

Networks Could Also Cheat

But it’s not always that only affiliates or media buyers are bad guys. Sometimes networks or advertisers, choose to lie a little bit. So, you got a conversion on your offer, no fraud, no mislead, everything is cool and smooth, you’re happily waiting for your payout but receiving nothing. It’s called shaving, that is the way affiliate networks or advertisers receive more profit from you without just paying you for the lead. It happens quite often with small new programs which just strive to earn more money as they don’t have any respect and name yet. Or it’s just lack of experience of advertisers who don’t understand well all of the tools to track the sales either they just too smart to try to understand it all as the income would be less by paying to affiliate. To sum up, use tracking systems to check traffic sources and advertisers to whom you send the traffic. Don’t be shy and always ask for any confirmations why your traffic was declined or not paid. Know your rights!

Shady Partners

And last but not least is a suddenly closed affiliate networks. Nothing is eternal, that is a philosophy of life. It happens sometimes with the best of us, we mean with the best in the field. The reasons why a program or a network finish their work could be many from the obvious to some really shady ones. Debts, unprofitability or basically it could be just a story of a ‘one-day scam network’ that we’ve mentioned earlier. For example, there was an affiliate program called ‘AffPower Casino Group’ which was involved in many kinds of fraud and was terminated in the end. They’ve offered pirated NetEnt games, was practicing negative SEO and it was proven by several independent investigations. Even though they had been afloat for some time and denied everything they were accused of. Of course, mostly players faced with a lot of problems, they were totally ripped off by them and affiliates weren’t stayed aside as well, unfortunately, as most of the times when you start working with a new partner, you don’t sign any paper, you just start. It means that you both accepted all the conditions and the ugly truth could pop up later. So, be aware of that, don’t keep a large amounts of money on the platform, don’t believe beautiful words, check various lists of proved partners and choose carefully with whom to cooperate.

Those are basically all the points that we would like to tell you about but don’t be relaxed yet. You still never know what the next new scheme would look like and it’s practically impossible to mention all of them. But we guess it’s pretty clear right now that the truth is so obvious as always. ‘Trust but verify’. Dig as many info as possible before starting working with or investing. Be always aware of what you’re doing and double check everything. Being extra cautious won’t do any harm but don’t make it too extreme, of course!