Affiliate Marketing Scams

What You Need to Know about Affiliate Marketing Scams

With an estimated worth of more than $10 billion, affiliated marketing has been on a vast boom recently. Due to this rise in popularity, many retailers and brands have also started to invest a lot more in programs relating to affiliate marketing. All this means is that if you need passive income, affiliated marketing is an excellent opportunity to consider.

However, before you decide to hire an affiliate marketer or even become one in the first place, you should know about affiliate marketing scams. So, when identifying an affiliate fraud, it becomes crucial that you understand one thing. It would be best if you see how an affiliate marketing scam can influence your online business, and you will also need to know what it is exactly. 

So, this is the exact case; we are here to help you. We are going to discuss the most common scams related to affiliate marketing. We will also talk about how these scams work and what you can do to avoid them.

Are Affiliate Scams Common?

Affiliate Marketing Scams

Before we get into the actual ways you can get scammed when you involve yourself or your online business with affiliate marketing; we should first look at how common these scams actually are. 

Affiliate marketing has gained immense popularity, especially with people who have just started a new online business. This is mainly because with affiliate marketing, you get to have high commission rates from brands, and it does not require a high budget. 

However, the sad part is that affiliate marketing is also appealing to scammers with all these great benefits. There has been research that shows a significant global increase in digital ad fraud loss. It has been estimated that within 2023 the loss will grow to around $100 billion. This means that digital ad fraud poses quite a threat to the affiliate marketing industry. 

Many different businesses have affiliate scams, and we are only noticing these more nowadays because they are somewhat hard to identify. If you look at website ads, YouTube, social media platforms, and search engine results on the browser, you will most likely be able to spot these scam activities. So, if you’re worried about your business or company, you should monitor your campaigns for online marketing; that is a channel that scammers primarily target. 

All of the reasons mentioned above are why you should look more into the scams around affiliate marketing so you can avoid them and keep yourself safe. As such, to help you with that, we are going to list some affiliate scams that might be able to affect your business from the company and affiliate marketer side. 

Common Affiliate Marketing Scams That Can Hurt Affiliate Marketers

Now, when you are an affiliate partner, you need to keep an eye out for all sorts of scams that may damage your business and lead to a loss in your revenue. Here are some of the most common scams you need to look out for if you are considering becoming an affiliate marketer. 

  1. Fake Products

The fake product scam is exactly what it sounds like; it just involves someone creating a page or ads for a product that does not even exist. What most scammers would do to gain more trust from their potential customers and the public is to promote their fake products under the name of a well-established brand. 

2. Cookie Stuffing

Cookie stuffing, also known as cookie dropping, is another affiliate scam. This one involves the scammer placing tracking codes taken from several different affiliate networks into a visitor’s computer. This allows the scammers to earn a commission every time a visitor comes in and clicks the link to buy a product from the advertiser’s site.

3. Pay to Join Programs

Another thing to look out for in an affiliate marketer is pay-to-join programs. This is another affiliate scam that everyone commonly sees. And this one involves asking for specific payment either made through PayPal or a credit card to be able to join an affiliate program.

Keep in mind that when it comes to affiliate marketing programs, most of the ones that are trusted are actually free to use. So, you should know people or companies offering these paid services. And look deeper into it so that you can ensure your personal and essential information is not stolen online. 

4. Get Rich Quick Schemes

This is a widespread fraud scheme that many scammers tend to use. You will notice that the scammers are using ads that are too overpromising. In this way, they can convince more people of the possibility of making money without much effort. So, this scheme is very quick and dangerous.

This scam is usually clickbait and can attract a lot of affiliate marketers who are new to the game. This can eventually lead to your private data being stolen or fake affiliate clicks, thus benefiting the scammers. So, more greens in their pockets, and you’re there wondering what happened to you.

5. Spoof Traffic

Spoof traffic is another affiliate fraud that works by scammers sending fake click and impression data. This also includes junk and bots so that the scam looks more valid. The most common place to find this scam is in the PPC (also known as Pay Per Click) affiliate programs. Hence, PPC is like a double-edged sword. You can earn easily and get scammed easily as well.

What the marketing analytics program will show then are a bunch of referrals that lead to the retailer’s site. In reality, they are all nothing but a bunch of bots. So this will then allow the scammers to earn money from each click that is made. And you don’t want that to happen.

5 Affiliate Marketing Scams that you Should Be Aware of as a Company

There are many ways that an affiliate program can help your company, such as increasing your brand’s awareness and driving up your sales with a lot less effort required. However, these scammers will always find a way to make money through this affiliate marketing system. This is why we have listed some affiliate scam techniques that can harm your company. Make sure you check these out.

  1. URL Hijacking

While URL hijacking may sound like a highly complex method of scam, it is actually one of the more commonly used scam techniques by fraudsters. This involves scammers creating a product or even a website with similar names to your brand. This way, when the customers click on the fake website, it will redirect them to the actual website, allowing the scammers to earn commissions from another affiliate partner. 

It affects you as a company because you need to know how this scam can affect your SEO strategy. After all, scammers can clone your page’s content and redirect the traffic. So, this is very dangerous, and you must be extra careful.

2. Google Ad Hijacking

This is another type of affiliate fraud, requiring the scammer to create fake ads to pop up on top of the search results you see on Google. This allows the scammer to hijack your company’s actual and paid ads. So, when a customer clicks on a fake link made by a scammer, this will let the scammer steal the direct traffic of your website by targeting the branded keywords.

3. Click Spam

This affiliate scam has scammers creating fake clicks using websites and mobile apps. The most common method that scammers use to generate bot traffic is malware because this actually makes it look like mobile users are clicking on PPC ads. Hence, this leads to each transaction made on the actual website being a referral. 

This type of scam can disrupt affiliate traffic data and affect your business as a whole since this increases the cost of paid ads. 

4. Transaction Fraud

Fraudsters use stolen payment accounts or credit card information to create a fake transaction on the account of an affiliate partner. You might argue that this is a scam that actually harms the customers more who had their data stolen than the affiliate marketers. Sadly, this type of scam is actually able to damage the company itself as well. This is because when the affiliates charge back for the fraud, the company has to pay commissions for the sales generated from the affiliate fees and links. 

5. Fake Leads

This is another affiliate scam that has the scammer create fake leads and then send them to a retailer or an advertiser. Typically, scammers make these fake leads look more trusted and valid by using the stolen data when registering on forms. 

When it comes to identifying fake leads, it is actually not that complicated. You need to keep an eye out and check whether the contact information is too similar or is just not the same at all. So, using this method, you might be able to figure out if you are dealing with fake leads or not. 

How Do You Avoid Affiliate Marketing Scams?

Now you better understand the scams revolving around affiliate marketing and how they can affect your business. Hence, it is time to learn how to find programs you can trust. When it comes to avoiding making mistakes in affiliate marketing, these are the most critical steps. So, jot them in your brain.

  1. Review the Terms and Conditions of Affiliate Programs

Before registering for an affiliate program in a company, you must learn the terms and conditions they have beforehand. If the brand is trusted, it will be very transparent about specific benefits. These include their program offers, how their affiliate program functions, the benefits you will get as an affiliate partner, and their payment methods. So, look out for unrealistic commission rates and also overpromising conditions.

2. Request for their testimonials

You can either try to find reviews online or ask the company to provide you with testimonials for their affiliate marketing program. Most affiliate partners typically share their experience with the program on social media. If you can get testimonials from those who have used the program, you can further identify the pros and cons. You can also get to know more about the payment methods. So this way, you can also decide if the program is right for you.

3. Check the History of the Company

This is another excellent way to ensure the company’s legitimacy. Please search for the company’s history on its website and do your research. Their website should provide information on how their affiliate program can develop in revenue or mention the number of affiliates they have at some point. 

You could also go on the internet and look for external sources such as different articles or news to learn more about the company’s track record with its affiliate marketing programs. Another thing that can help you is knowing how long the company has been in the market. The duration will tell you a lot about the particular company. 


Affiliate marketing is something that can become a great source of income for both the marketers and the brands as well. However, this is also an excellent way for scammers to make easy money online. Affiliate marketing scams can be frustrating, but once you know what you are up against, it is much easier to spot the scams and avoid them. So, we hope this was helpful, and you can now steer clear of the affiliate marketing scammers. We thank you sincerely for reading this article till the end. Stay safe, be patient, and keep these factors in mind to avoid affiliate marketing scams! 

Similar Posts