How To Spot a Scam

Thousands of people flock to the internet to make money every single day. Thousands of people lose money every single day and throw in the towel. The conclusion? Internet marketing is a scam. Is it really? It is human nature to make assumptions based on personal experience. The fact of the matter is, when someone feels burned, they will become bitter and therefore blame marketing for their “failure” online. There are entire forums dedicated to discussion and dialogue where people vent about scams. This is one of the biggest reasons people fail (for a list of other reasons people fail, click here). It is more out of fear of losing their money, than being scammed.

So, with that said, what constitutes a scam. There are different layers of scams. A lot of it is based on common sense and experience. If you know how to work these programs, you can still make money, even if they eventually fail and others lose money. Yes, it’s still a “scam” but some people did make a profit. I call these “white lie” scams. A lot of programs online are white lie scams. What makes them a scam, is that people have to lose money so others can make money. The key is to get in early and pull out as much as you can before the program goes under. Many investment programs fall under this umbrella of programs. Here are the three types of scams to consider.

Money Game Scams

Make Money From Home Scams

Nigerian/Inbox Scams

Categorically speaking, these I felt were the most efficient way to break them all down. There are a lot of gray areas in terms of scams. I am not giving advice, nor do I pretend to be an expert. I have lost money along with the best of them. I am just trying to pass along my experiences to help others avoid falling victim as well. So how do you spot these scams?

Money Game Scams: It’s all about the Benjamins, Baby!

As I alluded to at the beginning of this post, there are programs out there that will make you money at the expense of others. The problem is, A LOT of people will have to lose money so a few can make a profit. These programs are not sustainable and all fall to ruin, some within days of launching. The people that start these programs open new ones all the time, almost on an assembly line. Among programs that fall in this type are HYIP’s (High Yield Investment Programs), Pyramid Schemes, and Ponzi Scams. Many of these programs have earned people money and there are some who turn to coaching others how to profit from MG scams. To each their own – just beware and get your money out early.

You are better off playing the stock market if you are looking to “invest.” No program online that calls itself an investment program will ever offer you long-term stability. Case-in-point, I joined a program in 2011 called Ad Media Traders. They gave you so much an hour based on the amount you had invested. In turn, they used your investments to buy ad media online, where they supposedly earned their/your profits. I was blinded by the dollar $ign$ and put in hundreds. Within a week or two after I joined, they stopped paying and my investment was “frozen” in their account forever. Jacob Hess, the AMT owner continued to flood my inbox with similar type programs that he promised would earn me a profit (conveniently from a “no reply” email address). I didn’t care about these other programs, I cared about the money he took from me!

Legitimate opportunities online that earn people money, are those that offer a service equal in value to the amount they charge every month/year. There is a lot of debate over what constitutes a good service. GDI is a good example of such a program. Many people join to make the residual income every month, but GDI always offers a hosting service, which is what makes it NOT a pyramid scheme. Trafficwave is another example of a program that can earn you a lot of money, while providing a service essential to marketing. When approaching these programs, you have to ask yourself, would I join this program without the residual income – does it provide real value for your business? If so, you cannot call it a scam.

Money Game Scams will always be around. If you want to partake in them, do your research. Find out if they are paying others before you put your money in (if you feel compelled to do so). Don’t break your piggy bank in the process! Think of it as a casino. Casinos are there to make money off of you, but you can still make a quick buck as long as you know when to leave. There are free resources out there to help you learn how to beat this system (scams) if you wish to learn how to do so. Alan Chapman is an expert with HYIP’s and runs a blog about strategies to profit with Investment programs. You can find his blog here.

Make Money From Home Scams

You hear stories all the time about people stuffing envelopes or mystery shopping full time and earning a decent income. Other examples are filling out surveys, data entry, and taking part in research studies from the comfort of your home. There are legitimate companies out there that offer positions or pay you for your help, but you’d probably make more working in a sweat shop. There are also some places that charge people $35 for an out-dated list of places that will pay for you to work at home. 99% of the companies on the list will either be gone or you will be rejected when you apply.

My parents once took part in a mystery shopper program to earn extra cash. They decided to try out a car rental service, which was supposed to pay them $85 once they had evaluated the service successfully. They were told to accept all upgrades if asked and give an honest assessment of the level of customer service. After getting the car rental, driving around, paying for gas, getting every available upgrade they could, they ended up losing money. They did earn the $85, but never received reimbursement for all the fees they had to cover out of pocket. Stuffing envelopes is the same way. You pay for the information, but sometimes you have to also pay for the envelopes or the postage. In the end, if you earn any profit at all, its very little. You should never have to pay for a list of programs or services – PERIOD. Beware of any “work from home” program. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – be vigilant and do your research.

Nigerian/Inbox Scams

You’ve got another email in your inbox from Ted Johnson. Who is this guy? Where did he come from and why is he asking for my bank account info? Ted Johnson also has bad english and calls me “sir” a lot. STOP. Delete that email right away. It’s probably a Nigerian Scam. Somehow, people fall victim to these scams still, although they are usually, in my opinion the most blatantly obvious and most dangerous scams of all.

They can ask for a wide variety of things, but they all fit the same criteria. They promise you millions of dollars, pounds, or euros in exchange for a “small” fee of some amount beforehand. They may ask for bank account info or your social security number for “verification” purposes. This is my number one golden rule I follow online: I never give my personal info away to someone requesting my info through an email. The only way I give out any info, is when I call the bank myself (not even if they call me). No respected institution will ever ask you to email them your important information. You need to guard this with your life. Another telltale sign they are part of a Nigerian scam, is their emails to you will make any person who speaks English cringe. There is nothing grammatically correct about them. Simple words are misspelled and used out of context frequently. If someone can’t take the time to email me using proper English, I disregard the email without second thought, especially if they are trying to do business.


That concludes the three types of scams you may come across. If you can think of any others, please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment below. The best (and most obvious) advice I can give you, is be careful where you leave your money. Make sure you know who is taking it. Never give out your personal info to anyone.

There is always some level of risk anywhere money is involved. That does not mean it’s not possible to make any money online, or that everything is a scam. It’s all a matter of common sense and how you perceive value. The best way to make money online, is to set yourself apart as a leader and help others. Once you find what you excel at, you can use your natural talents and skills to help others in those areas. Don’t focus so much on forcing the money. It will come in time. Focus on your passions and sharing those with others. You can’t fake passion, and people and money will soon follow if you provide real value first.

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