11 Affiliate Marketing Scams To Avoid

January 18, 2023

Affiliate Marketing Scams To Avoid

In this article, I'm going to share with you 11 of the most common and dangerous affiliate marketing scams to avoid.

But let me save you some time, perhaps, and start off by saying that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Affiliate marketing can be an incredibly lucrative business opportunity, I should know I make a living doing it, but only if it's done correctly and safely.

It’s not enough just to know how these scams work; you need to also take steps towards protecting yourself from them.

Read on as we explore eleven different types of fraud associated with affiliate marketing and learn how best to protect yourself against them.

The Top Affiliate Marketing Scams To Avoid

Let's hop right on into this list so we can arm ourselves against these guys. Allusion aside, understanding which ones are out there and how they operate is key to ensuring our success as affiliate marketers - after all, safety first!

1.) Promises of Guaranteed Success

Promises Of Guaranteed Success

Are there any entities in this content? If so, provide the links to their wikipedia page to me

Promises of guaranteed success are like sirens calling to sailors in a storm.

They seem so alluring, but they can quickly lead you off course!

When someone tries to tell you something as a surefire way to achieve overnight success with no risk or hard work involved, don't buy into their pitch - chances are the only thing getting successful will be the scammer who tricked you out of your money.

Let's look at the signs of fake get-rich-quick promises:

  1. Unrealistic earnings claims;
  2. Requiring an upfront payment or investment;
  3. Promising guaranteed success with minimal effort. It's important to stay wary when presented with these types of offers - it could end up costing you more than just money if you're not careful.

Now, don't get me wrong, MANY legitimate coaching or training programs do require payment up front, so before investing in any sort of program or system claiming guaranteed results, do your research first!

A real business opportunity takes dedication, effort and time; there is no guarantee for success if those ingredients aren't present.

Check reviews online from unbiased sources and talk to people who have actually put the program through its paces before making any decisions.

There's nothing wrong with being cautious when it comes to investing - better safe than sorry!

So don’t get caught up in these empty promises – stay alert and keep your finances secure.

2.) Non-Existent Products

It's worth mentioning non-existent products when talking about affiliate marketing scams.

These one's can leave you as lost & confused as Joe Biden!  They don't actually exist but scammers try to get you to buy them anyway. 

They'll oversell a product or service, usually leading people to believe they're getting something special for a good price.

And here's the thing – these types of scams can be especially hard to spot because there isn’t any real evidence that this product or service exists in the first place!

It's just false promises from the marketers trying to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.

So if someone is offering you something that sounds too good to be true - beware, it might not actually exist at all! 

It's important to be vigilant when researching products online so you won't fall victim to these shady tactics.

Really, take 15 seconds to Google something - it could end up saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars! 

3.) Misleading Ads & Links

Internet Marketing Guru "Magic" software LOL

Misleading ads and links are a huge problem in the world of online business and have been for quite some time.

It’s important to learn how to identify them so you don’t get ripped off or worse, put your computer at risk by clicking on malicious links!

One way to spot these misleading ads and links is to pay attention to where they direct you.

  • A lot of times these types of schemes will lead people down a rabbit hole that doesn't actually take them anywhere productive.
  • They might also appear as regular advertisements but contain false promises like getting rich quickly with no effort involved - something we all know isn’t realistic.

So stay vigilant out there; if something seems fishy then trust your gut instinct!

Be sure to do research before committing any money to an opportunity that appeared through a potentially deceptive link or advertisement.

Don't let yourself become another victim of unscrupulous affiliates looking to make a buck off unsuspecting victims – education is key here!

4.) Fake Reviews & Testimonials

Fake Reviewers on Fiverr

It seems like everywhere we turn, someone is trying to take advantage of us. Fake reviews and testimonials are a classic example - they make it look like an amazing product or service is truly worth our hard-earned money when in reality it's nothing more than a cheap imitation!

In fact, It's as cheap as $10 now to get somebody to FILM a fake review for you, and some of them make a living doing these fake reviews & testimonials! 

That's the kind of world we're in.  

With all the fake reviews out there, how do we even know which products and services are really worth investing in? 

We don't want to be taken for a ride by some con artist who just wants to line their own pockets with cash at our expense!

The best way to protect yourself from ending up on the wrong side of these shady transactions is by doing your research before making any purchases or signing up for anything.

5.) Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

Internet Marketing Scams

Many scammers may try to get victims to give up their credit card information so they can charge them for a variety of services. 

This can include anything from a “free trial” of a product or service, to a “one-time” charge for something they never requested in the first place.

When dealing with any company, it's important to always double check the terms and conditions of any offer.

Here are my three top tips to avoiding this scam:

  • Make sure to read all of the fine print and be aware of any hidden fees or charges that may be included. 
  • Always be wary of any offer that seems too good to be true.
  • It's also a good idea to set up alerts with your bank or credit card company so you can be notified immediately of any unauthorized charges.

Finally, never give out your credit card information to anyone you don't know or trust.

Bottom line? It pays (literally!) to use common sense when considering any type of investment or offer online. And if something looks like it could be a scam…it usually is one.

So keep your guard up and never give out personal financial information unless you trust the source 100%. 

6.) Ad Hijacking

Ad Hijacking

Ad hijacking is a form of click fraud, which is when a third-party uses automated software to click on ads in order to generate revenue for the fraudsters.

Ad hijacking can be done by a variety of methods, such as buying ads on search engines, on social media, or using malware to redirect users to fraudulent websites.

For example, if somebody types in Amazon into a search engine, they might see an ad for "Amazon" that takes them to the scam website.

The best way to protect yourself from ad hijacking is to be aware of the risks and take measures to protect your brand. 

Ad hijacking can also take the form of domain spoofing, which is when a malicious person uses a legitimate domain to serve their own ads. In this case, the malicious site uses the same domain name as the legitimate ad campaign, making it appear as if the ad is coming from the same source. 

This form of fraud has become increasingly difficult to detect, as malicious actors are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics.

Domain spoofing can be especially damaging to a brand's reputation, as consumers may become confused when they see the same ads from different sources.

7.) Paid Traffic Scams (Basically, Avoid Fiverr)

Paid Traffic Scams

Alright, so let's talk about paid traffic scams. It sounds pretty straightforward - you pay for clicks and visits to your website or affiliate link, right?

But there are some shady companies out there that'll take advantage of the situation if they can.

I got an email from one of these places recently offering me a deal where I'd pay $500 upfront for 'guaranteed' 10,000 visitors.

Now, don't get me wrong here - it might be legit! Who knows? But in my experience, it's usually not.

I'm sure that many folks have gotten scammed by something like this before. You put down your hard-earned money hoping for more traffic but instead all you get is a whole lot of nothing.

That's why doing thorough research before signing on with any kind of promotional service is so important.

Read reviews online, check out their social media pages, see what other people are saying about them…you know the drill!

Make sure you're not just blindly trusting someone who promises the moon and stars without having anything to back it up.

Bottom line: Don't go into any agreement unless you've done your due diligence first. And always remember that when it comes to buying traffic, nothing beats organic growth through quality content creation and promotion!

8.) Unsolicited Investment Advice

Work from home scams

We all want to make money, but this kind of stuff is a real danger zone and something I'd recommend avoiding at all costs.

Let me give an example - if someone you don't know well or don't trust approaches you with their 'secret' strategy for making big returns with low risk, stay away from them!

They're probably just trying to get your hard-earned cash so they can buy themselves a new car...or whatever else they've got their eyes on.

So be mindful of anyone who claims to have the magic bullet when it comes to investments. It's better to do your own research and take calculated risks than put your faith in strangers who could potentially scam you out of your savings.

Trusting these people won't help you reach financial freedom, only prepares you for one really bad day down the line.

9.) Malicious Software & Malware


Wow, it's incredible how quickly the digital age has changed our lives. It used to be that scams were mainly limited to door-to-door salespeople and cold calls from telemarketers - but now, malicious software and malware have become a major concern for anyone looking into affiliate marketing

Here's what you need to watch out for.

First of all, there are tons of different kinds of malicious software out there, so it can be tricky to tell which ones are legit. Some common types include viruseswormstrojansspywareransomware, and adware

These programs can do anything from stealing your personal information or credit card numbers to installing unwanted programs on your computer without your permission. So if something seems fishy - steer clear!

Another way hackers use malicious software is by sending 'phishing' emails that look like they're coming from legitimate companies. The email will usually contain a link that leads to a fraudulent website designed to steal your login credentials or other sensitive data.

Always make sure you check the sender's address before clicking any links in an email – even if it looks like it’s from a trusted source. If in doubt about whether an email is real or not – don't click on anything! Unfortunately, these days cybercriminals are getting smarter than ever when trying to trick us into giving away our personal information.

In addition to phishing emails, scammers may also try and install malicious software through fake ads or pop-ups claiming their program can improve your system performance or security; often times this isn't true at all!

Don't fall for these tricks either – instead, search online reviews first before downloading any unknown applications onto your computer just to be safe.

Being aware of the dangers associated with malicious software is key when diving into the world of affiliate marketing – so keep these tips in mind whenever browsing online!

10.) Hidden Fees & Expenses

Hidden Fee Scams

Ahh, hidden fees and expenses. The worst part of affiliate marketing scams is when you don’t even know what they are charging you for!

It honestly feels like you have no control whatsoever over your money when these sneaky scammers get their hands on it.

From the tiny charges that add up quickly to the enormous surcharges that can push you into financial ruin - hidden fees are one of the biggest dangers in this entire industry.

Let me tell ya – if there’s something suspicious going on with an affiliate program or company, then hidden fees could be at the heart of it all.

Here's a list of some common ones to watch out for: 

  • Unclear pricing structures 
  • Recurring monthly payments without notification 
  • Skyrocketing interest rates after signing up 
  • Processing fees tacked onto every transaction 
  • Charging customers more than initially advertised

All of these extra costs make it difficult to understand exactly where your money is going and how much of it is actually being put toward your desired product or service.

Many people find themselves stuck with hefty bills that they didn't account for due to not reading through terms and conditions carefully enough before committing to any purchase - ouch!

It's important to stay vigilant against companies attempting to hide their true intentions behind deceptive policies because trust me - those unexpected expenditures will come back around tenfold...

11.) Misrepresentation Of Products Or Services


Misrepresentation of products or services is like a broken compass: it'll set you off in the wrong direction and get you lost.

It's everywhere in affiliate marketing, with some players trying to pull wool over your eyes for their own gain. It's important to be vigilant when diving into these scams.

You must make sure that what you're getting matches what was advertised; otherwise, you could end up paying way more than expected or even worse - not receiving anything at all!

Doing research on the product before investing can save you from falling victim to this kind of scam.

Look around online and check out reviews from other people who have tried it out. If a company won't let potential customers try out the product first, then steer clear!

No one should ever feel pressured into buying something they don't fully understand.

Having access to clear information helps keep things honest between buyer and seller. Don’t get fooled by empty promises; stay informed and trust your gut if something seems fishy.


As an affiliate marketer, it's important to stay aware of the potential scams out there. It's like walking through a minefield: you have no idea when one of these schemes may pop up and blow your career sky high.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to do your research before investing in anything or signing any contracts.

Make sure that all agreements are transparent and that everyone involved understands what they're getting into from the get-go.

And if something doesn't feel right? Don't be afraid to back away and walk away from whatever offer is on the table.

There are plenty more opportunities out there waiting for you, and chances are they aren't going to involve shady deals!

Staying vigilant will help keep you safe — and keep those hard-earned bucks in your pocket where they belong.

So remember: don’t take risks with your money or time! Investigate everything thoroughly, know who you’re dealing with, ask questions, read reviews –and never hesitate to say no if something feels off.

That’s how you can protect yourself against scammy affiliates and make sure only legit ones enter your circle!

About the author 

Jeff Lenney

Welcome to my corner of the internet! I'm Jeff Lenney, your navigator through the exciting seas of Affiliate Marketing, SEO, and ECommerce. My journey started back in 2009, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of success and fun in the digital world.

Before I dove headfirst into the vast ocean of affiliate marketing, I honed my SEO skills with some of the biggest agencies in sunny Southern California. I've been the SEO compass for 7-9 figure giants like Agora Financial, Investor Place, and Timothy Sykes, guiding them through the complex currents of online visibility.

But wait, there's more! I've also worked quite extensively with affiliate marketing legends like Anik Singal, Jimmy Kim, Aidan Booth, Dori Friend & others. Did I mention I was Anik's head coach from 2012 to 2015? Yeah, I've been around the block a few times!

My expertise isn't just confined to the boardroom. I've shared my knowledge and experiences on numerous podcasts, shedding light on the intricate dance of affiliate SEO.

So, whether you're a seasoned pro looking to catch the next big wave or just dipping your toes into the digital marketing ocean, I've got a treasure trove of insights for you. Stick around for fun tales, savvy strategies, and maybe a few laughs as we debunk myths and explore the latest trends in the world of online marketing. 

Dive into my posts and let's make some waves together! ✋ My Name is Jeff Lenney. I'm an Affiliate Marketer, and Search Engine Optimization Expert with over 10 years experience. I like to talk about marketing, SEO & ECommerce, so read my other posts here: Jeff Lenney's Articles

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