I spent years searching for a legitimate way to create an income online and fell victim to a lot of overhyped ‘systems’ and complete scams along the way.
The end result was me losing a fair chunk of cash and becoming extremely frustrated and disillusioned at the whole ‘make money online’ thing.
I’m both a dreamer and a super determined guy so I never gave up until I broke the cycle and learned what works. Like me, you can learn how to create an income online but it’s important to learn what’s real and what is just another dead end.
My goal in writing this is to save you time, money and frustration and help you reach your goals sooner by avoiding some of the same mistakes I made.
Sound good? Awesome, let’s do this.
7 Ways To Avoid Internet Scams
After a while you can spot a sketchy product or opportunity just by looking at the first few lines of text on the sales page or watching a couple of minutes of the sales video. While they come in many different shapes and sizes, there are common traits the vast majority share.
When you learn these you are going to be much more savvy in the online world.
#1 Avoid Anything ‘Auto-Pilot’ Or ‘Push Button’
A lot of the guru’s love telling people how easy and push button everything will be and leave out the part about the work involved. This is probably one of the biggest things to watch out for and one of the biggest lies being sold to people in my opinion.
If making money on the Internet was that easy and required such little effort, everyone would be millionaires. Think about it. The truth is, it has never been that easy, it will not be that easy now and it NEVER will be that easy to make money online. These gurus are playing on your desire to make money quickly and easily and a lack of knowledge about how things really work in this space.
Yes, once you get a business rolling, you can make money while you sleep, travel around and work a few hours per day. I often wake up to commissions notifications via email but I worked the day prior! I can safely say that no successful entrepreneur puts such a half assed effort in and creates a full-time income, this is simply not realistic in ANY business.
That said, you can create an online business at a slower pace and earn a less amount with a couple of hours per day. Like anything in life, you get out what you put in.
#2 Watch For Fake Income ‘Proof’
People who are trying to lure you in love touting their income with statements like… “Look at how much money I make with this system” followed by showing you completely unsubstantiated ‘income proof’. In moderation, income proof isn’t always bad and I think it can help to show people what is working.
The trouble is that almost all income proof I come across with these so called ‘systems’ doesn’t actually prove anything. Take the following screenshot for example, I found this in about 10 seconds doing a google search for ‘income proof’…
Assuming the proof being shown is legitimate for a moment, how can anyone verify the money was made with the system they are selling you? They often can’t. My advice here is to be very careful about letting so called ‘income proof’ sway your decision to join anything because it is often fake and doesn’t tell the whole story.
#3 Guard Against False Scarcity
It is no secret that placing a sense of urgency on a particular offer is an incredibly powerful motivator. In some cases, this can be legitimate but it is misused a lot online. You will often here things like “you are part of a select group of people” and “this is a very limited time offer” with the price soon going to rise. Quite often this is completely fabricated and is purely designed to get you to buy on impulse.
I can assure you that almost no one saying they are going to ‘close the doors’ in the next few hours or days is being straight with you. The price will probably remain the same and if it doesn’t it will only go up a couple of dollars at most. Their primary objective is making money, they are not going to shoot themselves in the foot by stopping people from buying. Period.
#4 Don’t Buy Into Pushy Upselling Tactics
There is nothing wrong with promoting addittional products (upsells) for the consumer to purchase if they offer genuine value. The problem comes in when you really need these to accomplish what the original product stated it would do and when it is done unethically via pressure sales tactics.
Do not confuse this kind of misleading behaviour with someone building rapport with you over time and recommending quality products that are actually going to help you. A lot of the time these are designed to get you buying more stuff right when you have your credit card out. It’s smart, but it walks a fine line between ethical and unethical in my opinion.
#5 Choose The Reviews You Trust Wisely
This is one of the most difficult things to spot. There are a lot of affiliates, not all, doing fake and misleading reviews purely designed to get you to buy whatever product they are promoting. This is so common it’s not funny. It can be VERY difficult to determine what can be trusted and what cannot be in this space so it can take time to learn who to trust.
There are 2 main types of reviews to be aware of when doing you research about a particular company.
Fake Promo Style Reviews
These reviews are probably the most obvious to spot and the most common. There are lots of affiliates who will use a “review+ bonus” to straight up promote whatever the product is since they stand to gain if you buy through one of their links.
The easiest way to spot a fake review is to see how in depth it is and if there are any tangible ‘cons’ included to give you insight into the drawbacks. Nothing is perfect. Check to see if the person has gone through the company or product and given an objective point by point analysis instead of just listing why it’s so amazing. Look at past reviews the person has done to see if they rate everything 9/10 or better and if they promote everything (or most things) they review.
The reason it’s so difficult to know what to trust and what not to trust is that legitimate affiliate marketers do promote worthwhile products within reviews in some cases. This is perfectly ethical and (if done correctly) does NOT take away from the objectivity or value of the review. It cost time and money to bring people worthwhile content and every website needs a monetisation strategy. If a quality product is being promoted in an ethical way, there is no issue.
It is no secret that there are tons of scams and low quality products online. Some websites however, take a somewhat biased approach and unfairly label something an actual scam. In some instances they may be right, but think carefully about how objective the review is and what facts are being presented.
A good example of this is labelling ALL mlm’s a scam which is not very reasonable.
I personally try to keep my reviews as objective as possible and (while I do offer my opinion) I try to keep my content as unbiased as possible. At the end fo the day, we are human and have concious and unconscious bias in various ways due to our life experience, values, lifestyle, views and opinions etc.
The take home here is that content becomes a lot more valuable when the publisher does her or his best to be as objective as possible.
Does this mean you can’t trust any reviews online? Not at all.
The important thing is to be very cautious and try to determine the value and objectivity of the content on the page. You could do this by reading multiple reviews and performing your own research to verify the claims being made about the product.
#6 Research The People Behind It
One of things that often go unnoticed when people are excited about the next big guru product is the actual history of the owner behind it. If they have a history of delivering low quality products or ripping people off, forget it. It’s pretty hard to erase what you’ve done online so chances are if you dig around enough, you’ll find whatever that person has been up to.
It isn’t always easy to tell this though as a lot of the time they use fake personas and even rip off other people’s identities. Knowing the history of the person behind a product can really make your decision a lot easier. You’ll find a lot of gurus pushing really overhyped or scam products hide their identity which is another red flag.
Remaining anonymous does not mean the person is a scammer, there are many legitimate reasons for this. But it is something to watch for and it’s very common among sketchy programs.
That said, don’t believe everything you read and be realistic.
For example, I’ve seen some of THE most legitimate and ethical marketers online being labelled a ‘scammer’ for the most ridiculous reasons. Some complaints really do come down to the complainants lack of knowledge on how things work in the online business world and skepticism from past experiences. Sometimes people will buy a product and do nothing with it, then call out whoever created the product as a scammer.
The cold hard truth is, if you’re not getting hated on by someone (especially in this space) you are doing something wrong! I recommend using your own judgement when it comes to evaluating complaints from other. Sometimes they are founded, sometimes they are not. Look for common ‘themes’ in the comments and how much weight they should hold in your decision making process.
#7 Look Past Fake Testimonials & Endorsements
This really makes my blood boil.
All too often you’ll see gurus using fake testimonials from so called ‘product users’ who are really just paid actors. Whenever I look at testimonials I always look to see if I can find the person online through social media or any other way. If not, I take a look at various freelance websites where buying a testimonial video is as cheap as $5!
This is very common and a dead give away you are looking at a less than legit program.
Here’s a so called testimonial from a review I did:
This guy was claiming he’d made a life changing income from the program.
Now here he is offering dirt cheap acting services on Fiverr:
The above example is taken from a program I reviewed a while ago which was absolutely full of misleading hype. Nothing against the actor himself since he is getting paid to do a job, but it does show you the kinds of tactics gurus are using.
Another tactic some of the absolute worst of the worst use is pretending to have some kind of endorsement from a reputable news network.
Whenever you see this- run for the hills! They make general claims like “work from home opportunities have been featured on…” which means absolutely nothing. In other words, stuff has been on the news. I can assure you they have no such credibility and have not been featured in a good way. Whenever you see this, run for the hills!
There’s a lot of rubbish online and a lot of gurus looking to line their pockets with your hard earned money. I know what it’s like to be frustrated, lost and not know who to trust online so hopefully this article has given you some ideas on how to avoid the rubbish and pick the best programs to work with.
It’s not all bad news though and not everything you come across is a scam but the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to protect yourself and those you care about online from losing money.