Are you trying to find a way to make extra money but don’t know what’s a legitimate business and what’s a scam? Do you want to know what is a scam and how to avoid one?
The internet can be such a useful tool for so many things in our lives today, but it’s also rife with deceitful people who are trying to make a living off of other people’s trust and money.
These people have infiltrated just about every facet of our online world. But don’t fret! There are ways to detect scams if you know some simple steps.
Hi. My name is Suzanne and I would like to talk to you about online scams. But first, let’s talk about what a scam is, OK?
And if you’re looking for a legitimate way to make money online, come and check out where I learned how to be successful!
What Is A Scam?
A scam, as defined by ‘Computer Hope‘, is a scheme made up by a fraudulent person with the intent to steal money or goods from an unsuspecting person.
Have you been scammed online? I have been, and it’s very frustrating!
These people can sound so convincing. They appeal to your trusting nature, give you hope of getting out of whichever situation you may find yourself in, and usually do so in a professional manner.
Anyone can build a website and make it look enticing.
When it comes right down to it, it can be hard to define some of the scams we see.
Some are obviously outright scams, which I’ll list below, but what about the “almost scams” or “semi scams”?
These are the ones that provide just enough material to keep it legal, but end up not delivering on what they promise.
Or what about those products that provide just enough in the upfront purchase, but require you to purchase the upsells to get it working properly?
This is commonly done in the make-money-online industry!
Types Of Online Scams
It can be scary when you do research on scams because there are so many out there. But let’s focus on the more popular ones you’d find when looking to make money online:
Online Survey Scam
These people may offer money or certificates but are really just gaining your information to sell to other spammers.
If they require a payment of any kind, they are scams.
Legitimate survey sites are free for anyone wanting to join. Though there are legitimate survey companies out there, I wouldn’t recommend them for making any significant amount of money.
They take a lot of time for little pay.
Make Money Fast Scam
These promise you $$$$ overnight and appeal to your need for additional finances.
They are usually just seeking your personal information for identity theft or wanting your money upfront for nonexistent products.
Beware of people overpaying you for your products, then requesting a refund for the difference.
The initial payment, which is usually a cheque, is not valid so you’re giving them money, and never receiving the product.
The Nigerian 419 Scam
This originally started in Nigeria, but now comes from anywhere.
These usually involve an emotional letter stating you can receive a large sum of money by providing your personal information with small fees for legal papers.
Once you pay, they keep contacting you for more money for additional required services.
In the end, they’ve gained all your personal information and you’re out a lot of money for nothing. NEVER respond to these emails.
Though rare, there have even been reports of kidnapping or death of foreign victims. If you want to read more, please click here.
Nonexistent Job Scam
These job offers, which can show up on legitimate job search sites, promise you a well-paid position and possibly even a phone interview.
They are just looking to get your personal and financial information.
These schemes offer you an excellent return on investment. All you need to do is make your initial investment, and watch the money roll in. NOT!
The only people that make money doing this are the few people at the top of the pyramid.
If you join near the bottom, you will probably lose your investment when the top people cut and run.
This has happened to me in “Bitcoin” scams. They took my money, showed me a fake graph of how much I was making, then one day the website was down.
No warning, no contact, no money!!!
Bait And Switch Scam (semi)
Ever come across courses that say they can teach you how to rank #1 on Google or Youtube?
Or they’ve discovered a secret way that no one else has used yet?
Ya, don’t believe it!! For one thing, no one can promise you that. And it’s never a secret!
If they’ve discovered a sneaky way to do this, you can be sure that Google has discovered it and will quickly plug that loophole. (That’s a term these scam artists love to use).
And believe me, if it were legitimate, no marketer will share his profitable techniques with you, lol.
So the product owner baited you with a promise but never delivered on his promise.
The Money-Sucking Funnel Scam (semi)
This is probably the most common one online. You come across an advertisement for a cool looking product.
Most of the time its training, or a time-saving product for your business.
If you decide to purchase, you’ll find that the upfront product doesn’t do everything they promised. (No surprise there!).
To get the best use of this product, you’ll have to purchase upsell #1, 2 & 3. Which usually ends up costing 5X more than the initial price.
Never buy the upsells immediately. Always test the product first. They’ll try to tell you the upsells won’t be offered again, but that’s a lie. They’re always available inside the member area!
Here’s a great video explaining the top 5 scams that actually worked!
Ways To Avoid Scams Online
People inherently want pleasure over pain. In fact, most of our decisions are based on that principle.
That’s why so many people fall prey to online scams.
If you are in a financial bind and are looking to make money online, wouldn’t the “make money quick” ads look enticing to you? They do to me!
They claim to make you a ton of money for very little effort. That’s the pleasure over pain scenario.
Online scammers try to appeal to your emotional side. They are relying on your desire to earn money quickly to pay off your debt, to help support your family, or even just plain ol’ greed.
Let’s look at twelve ways to spot online scams:
#1: Limited Time Offer
This is usually a way to entice you to take action quickly, before thinking about it. They will usually show countdown clocks or timers.
If you ever wait out the clock or refresh the page, you’ll see that the counter starts over again, lol.
They do this because if you take the time to look around and do some research, you’ll usually come to the conclusion that it’s a scam.
#2: Pay To Play
These are very much like pyramid schemes. They will offer multiple levels to buy into, telling you that you’ll only make the amount of commission owed that level.
For example, if you buy in at $1000, you’ll only make $500 commission when any of your referrals buy.
But if they chose to buy in at $5000, you’ll still only make $500, missing out on the higher commission.
So how does that make you feel? Yup, that’s what they’re counting on. They hope to make you buy-in at the highest level, so you’re not missing out on all that extra money…
#3: Guaranteed Income
No one can guarantee your income, whether it’s a return on investment (usually a pyramid scheme) or a specific monthly income through affiliate or online marketing.
I mean think about it. If someone discovered a way to make X amount of dollars per month, do you think he’s sharing his discovery? Not likely.
But that’s a hypothesis, and I can tell you right now, no one can guarantee you that!
These claims are always an attempt to sell their product by giving you hope of making money online.
#4: No transparency
If you can’t see exactly what you’re getting, or there’s no information about the owners or contact information, it’s a good chance it’s a scam.
Legitimate businesses will always tell you about themselves and how you can contact their support.
And they will gladly tell you upfront what they’re offering!
So many low-quality products will show you a hyped-up video, telling you:
- They’ve found a secret “loophole” that’s made them millions.
- They came from a down-trodden past, but a friend or co-worker told them about this “secret”.
- They use this method and started making loads of money, and now live the life of their dreams.
- They don’t need any more money and want to share this system with you.
- You better click the button now because he’s going to take it down soon.
And by the end of the video, you still don’t know what this “secret” is. But he’s hoping you’re so hyped up, that you’ll jump on the bandwagon.
DON’T DO IT!
#5: Huge Discount
Many products out there will show you their ‘original’ regular price of $1249, then down to $649, now $199.
These types of offers are a HUGE red flag for me.
You’ll also notice that when you try to click off the page, another popup will offer you a low price of only $49.
In actuality, the product is usually not even worth the $49, lol.
This is a promotional gimmick to have you feeling like you shouldn’t pass up this great deal. And if often works, doesn’t it?
#6: Only 2 Spots Left
Yeah….sure there is…
Just like the limited time offer, this is another scarcity tactic to make you believe you should rush your decision to buy.
#7: No Free Trial
Most legitimate companies will allow you to try before you buy.
I will also avoid those sites that may give you a free trial, but require your credit card to try.
Another alternative is the $1 for 7-day trial. These are all ways to get a hold of your credit card number.
They automatically charge your card after the trial date. It’s often very difficult to cancel these payments and you may lose out on a couple of month’s charges before you do.
My other concern is that they have my credit card number.
#8: Information Overload
Have you ever viewed a landing page that’s miles long? The information goes on, and on, and on.
I would think if they’re a company with a good reputation, they wouldn’t need to try so hard. Or at least not repeat the same information 6 times, lol.
They feel that this makes everything look professional and legit.
But go look at a business’s website that you trust. How does their’s look in comparison?
#9: Sloppy English
It’s common for these sites to be run out of countries where English is not their first language. And that’s fine! Good for them!
But when you spot bad grammar with an abundance of spelling errors, it’s a sure sign it’s a scam.
Any reputable business would ensure the English, and any other translation would be correct.
#10: Check The Website’s Age
With tools like “Wayback Machine“, you can check on the age of the website.
New sites shouldn’t have things like multiple customer reviews from past years.
Verifiable companies have usually been around for quite some time, and new sites should reflect that they’re new.
I’ve seen many product launches that will show images of “income proof” long before the product was created.
#11: Shady Payment Options
All legitimate companies should accept credit card payments or paysites like PayPal.
If they want bitcoin or wire transfers etc, but no credit cards, this is another BIG red flag.
#12: Poor reviews
Always do research from review sites you trust.
Personally, I like to use Quora or Reddit.
Did you know that scammers can actually outsource reviews from freelancers to post positive yet untrue reviews? What’s this world coming to?
An article on TheGuardian.com talks about this outsourcing.
#13: Refund Policy
Always read the refund policy before purchasing anything. Some can be very alarming.
There are products out there that require you to go through all their steps (with proof), and take action for a certain amount of time, before providing any refund.
And if you promote products from any affiliate networks, read their policies as well.
Clickbank is excellent in that they will refund you directly without having to go to the product owner.
Others require you to go to the owner, which can be a real pain if they don’t return your emails.
This has happened to me a few times. Only after I’ve said that I’d contact the network about them, did they refund any money.
#14: One-Click Upsells
This is commonly done with low-quality product offers. When you give your credit card information for the initial product, it remains on file.
- As you go through the checkout process, they will show you their promotions for any upsells before finalizing your payment.
- If you decide to purchase any upsell, as soon as you click “Buy”, your credit card is charged.
- Don’t expect to see any confirmation page.
And please ensure that the upsells are refundable as well.
#15: Make Money Fast
This is just a plain LIE!
There is no way anyone can make money quickly online. Anyone who says so is conning you!
Online marketing is a lucrative industry but requires hard work, time, and patience.
Any successful marketer, myself included, will tell you the same thing. If it were so easy, don’t you think everyone would be doing it!
#16: Recurring Payments
You should never assume that the cost they tell you about on the sales page or video is a one-time payment.
Many times, when I write reviews for my business, I’ll test the process by attempting to buy.
Carefully read the checkout page. Does it say “one-time payment”?
So many times it can say “recurring monthly payment” in fine print. If you don’t catch that right away, you’ll be in for a surprise next month.
#17: Extravagant Lifestyles
How often do you see promotions showing off their luxury homes, cars or vacations?
And they attempt to tell you that all this can be yours!
Please don’t fall for that. Of course, this lifestyle is possible, and I’m sure the most successful marketers have these things, but they don’t flaunt it!
They haven’t made their millions by bragging about their lifestyle or trying to rip people off with their shoddy products.
They’ve worked very hard to get where they are. Most of us who make money online live just like you do. A regular home, a normal car, and work on our businesses each and every day.
When you see someone bragging up a lifestyle, it’s all hype!
#19: Done-For-You Systems
Regardless of how many times they say it’s “proven”, these done for you products never work.
They say all the heavy lifting is done, and all you need to do is work 10 per day to succeed.
Oh, how I wish that were true, lol. But it never is.
Not only are you not learning how the whole online marketing process works, but they’re not telling you about the most important task to make any money at all.
And that’s your traffic! If you don’t have any traffic to send to your promotion, you can’t possibly make money.
Most times, they’ll tell you to use paid advertising on Google or social media, or to buy Solo Ads.
These methods have all gotten very expensive, and unless you have a large monthly advertising budget, you’re out of luck.
#20: Fake Testimonials
Did you know you can outsource to get fake testimonials? Don’t believe everything you read or hear.
When these scammy product creators need testimonials for their sales pages, they’re out of luck because the system rarely works.
So what do they do? They go to sites like Fiverr and hire an actor to make a fake video of their success with the product.
I’ve seen so many of these! And often with the same actor, lol.
Take a look at these reviews I’ve written. Notice how the Youtube review video is the exact same actress, saying the exact same thing.
All the owners do is replace the product logo on the screen…
What we need to remember is that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is…
Scam artists are getting more sophisticated each year.
The internet is their playground and they know how to take advantage of it. Most of them are skilled with computers and know how to cover their tracks.
They all try very hard to trap the unsuspecting person just looking to improve their lives. Many who’ve fallen prey to these scams are then afraid to keep looking for the legitimate offers.
But there are many reputable companies out there truly wanting to help you make money online. And affiliate marketing is the easiest for someone new, wishing to make a passive income.
These are some of the things you need to look for with any reputable business:
- They should offer a free trial so you can “test drive” the platform before joining.
- They shouldn’t require your credit card upfront, before your free trial.
- The education should be constantly updated to ensure you’re following the most current strategies.
- The support community should be available and active.
- The business reviews should be mostly positive with many comments.
- The platform has been successful for years and hasn’t just popped up overnight.
- Though not always necessary, do they provide the tools required to perform the tasks?
- The owners introduce themselves and are accessible.
I found the perfect platform for myself after being “burned” a couple of times. I refused to give up and I’m glad I didn’t.
I found a truly great platform to learn how to start my own successful online business. And it had everything I was looking for from beginning to end.
We now have over 1.4 million members, so they must be doing something right, eh?
If you click on the image below, you can read all about it. And when you join, I’ll greet you on the inside. I promise to help you as long as you need me to.
I hope this article helped you learn how to detect online scams. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
And if you know anyone who would like to know what a scam is, please share.
22 thoughts on “What Is A Scam And How Do I Avoid One”
Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for this helpful post.
I got in trouble with trying to complete surveys for money years ago.
This is a very thorough article highlighting all of the potential scams out there.
So many of them seem so legitimate. It’s scary.
Thank you for trying to help people recognize genuine opportunities and avoid scams.
Hi Rebecca, and thank you for your kind words!
It is scary how many scams are out there. And they are very good at making people feel it’s an honest solution.
That’s why I love to write product reviews as well. I try to expose the bad ones and highlight any good ones. And believe me, there’s more bad than good.
But when you’re aware of what to look for, the scams can be easier to spot. And the saying “if it’s too good to be true, it usually is” is my favourite saying. It applies to so much in life, lol.
Best wishes to you,
What an amazing amount of information.
Answers some of the problems I’ve had earlier this year, which made it very hard to be confident that I wasn’t being continually scammed.
Thank you for your information and links too!
I’m glad you liked my post. And if you’re past problems involved getting scammed, I know how you feel. It makes you distrustful of everything, doesn’t it?
The nice thing about Wealthy Affiliate is that you can start for free, with no commitment. It lets you try it out without fear. I hope you give it a try.
Let me know if you have any questions,
Hey there, very informative article.
I have been scammed many times in the past.
In fact, it made me believe for a long time that there was no such thing as a legitimate way to make money online.
Now I know better and know what to avoid.
Thanks for taking the time to write this article,
Hi Patrick, and thank you for sharing your experience.
You’re not alone, believe me!
There are so many scammers out there promising overnight riches. And that’s how they make their money, by lying to innocent newbies.
This is a real industry that can be very lucrative if you learn the proper way. And I’m so glad you’ve figured that out. I truly hope you’re making a great income.
This is everything you need to know in one article.
Scams are just everywhere now, and we have to be so careful.
Thanks for writing this blog!
Hi Aaron, and you’re welcome!
It’s frustrating how many scams are out there. They’re not all legally scams, because they usually provide you with some content. But many times its useless information.
I’m hoping that by showing the many red flags that pop up, that my readers will be able to recognize a lousy product from a good one.
I have many reviews on my site, but if you ever need to know about a system that I haven’t reviewed yet, let me know and I’ll try to help.
Thanks for commenting,
Wow some great info on here. I am glad I came along and had a read. Jam packed full of useful information.
I too have been scammed in the past so I am looking at ways not to be scammed.
Awesome thank you for sharing.
Thanks Deb, for you comment! These darn scammers are getting more creative every day. We definitely have to be on our toes. I’m glad I could help.
Thank you so much for this information. I have been scammed in the past and sometimes they just sneak it in there. I am going to bookmark this page for future reference~
Thank you Eden. It’s so easy to be scammed these days, but hopefully the information here will help prevent others from being scammed also.
Wow Suzanne! What an informative article. Thank you for defining what scams are with some clear examples for us to consider. Nigeria 419? Really? Never heard of it. It amazes me the lengths people will go to.
Also I’m glad you posted those 12 warning signs. Very helpful!
Thanks for helping to keep us informed.
All the best to you,
Hi Bob and thanks for your comment. Yes it sure is scary how far some people will go. Unfortunately it’s profitable for so many deceitful people, that they continue on trying. I wish people with that ability would use their skills for good! 🙂
Hi. You have given information that is very important. On the internet, sometimes, it is hard to know which site is a scam. At Wealthy Affiliate,is no scam and the only business that gives you value for your time.
Thanks Kwacha for your comment. Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine which site is a scam and which isn’t. But with the right knowledge and some research, you can usually figure it out. The trick is to not get so excited about their promises that you don’t take the time to look into it further.
Awesome article Suzanne, I’ve been scammed before and felt horrible. Since then I’m always careful and think twice before doing anything that involves me using my money online.
Thank you for sharing information on Wealthy Affiliate!! I personally I’m a member of WA and that’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!! Thank you for sharing this!
I’m so sorry you’ve been scammed. It does feel horrible doesn’t it. As well as embarrassing that we fell for it to begin with. That’s why I wanted to offer some ways to help people be careful online. I’m glad you enjoy Wealthy Affiliate. It’s my best decision also!!
Scams seem to be dominating our lives. Everything we do we have to be mindful that we could be scammed.
You get even more scared when Nigeria is mentioned.Thanks to you I am more aware of scams.
I have taken note of the tips you have given and believe that they will help me to avoid scams.
Thanks for the post.
Hi Luna, and I’m glad I could be of help. The internet has so many positives, but we need to be aware of the negatives too. Armed with the right information, I believe we can at least avoid these unscrupulous people.
I, also, have been victim of a scam before, while desperately looking for ways to earn money online, when I was depressed. You have to be really careful when you’re not feeling well, not to fall into those scams. But you wrote in this article great info, some things that you said really make sense. And I hope it’ll help tons of people out there. Thanks!
Thanks Ben. I’m so sorry you’ve been scammed. It’s so hard to go through, even when you’re well. But I’m sure doubly so when you’re depressed. I pray you’re fine now and have found what you were looking for in the first place.