10 Online Marketing Scams You Should Avoid

If you’re looking to enter the world of online marketing, you might be tempted to jump into the deep end and try to become a digital marketer or SEO consultant. Before you do, it’s essential to learn the trade from the ground up. This way, when you do enter the field, you’ll be able to navigate the treacherous waters of digital marketing unscathed.

Scam #1: Fake Jobs/Gigs

One of the first things a potential prey might notice about a fraudulent offer is that it doesn’t seem like a real job. A common tactic among scammers is to try to lure you in with a fake offer of employment. The catch is that the job you’re being asked to do doesn’t actually exist. The employer might have created the job ad to look like it’s the real deal, but they don’t have any intention of following through by actually hiring you.

Scam #2: “Free” Tools & Services

Just because a product or service is free doesn’t mean it’s not a scam. There are many scammers who will try to trick you into believing that you’re getting some great deal if you purchase a product or service that’s been “liked” or “recommended” by another user. To continue with our job example from above, the employer might have created the job ad to look like it’s for a customer support representative at a fortune 500 company, when in reality they’re just looking for someone to fill out the numbers on their income tax return. You can usually identify a scammy free offer by doing your research and finding out what the true benefits are.

Scam #3: Mystery Shopping/Home Sales Inspections

Getting a home inspection from an unknown source without any sort of assurance that the person is who they claim to be is a scam that’s being perpetrated by some realtors in the UK. For a while, the realtors would simply place a one-off call to get a home inspection. Now they’ll send a stranger to your home who’ll ask all sorts of questions about what’s going on with your property. That’s usually followed up by a pushy sale — it’s the perfect storm of social engineering, fear, and greed.

Scam #4: Social Engineering & Phishing

Social engineering and phishing are very similar, yet very different techniques used by scammers to trick you into providing them with sensitive information.. In the case of phishing, the scammer will send you a spoofed email that looks like it’s from a familiar source. When you click on a link or button in the email, you’ll be taken to a fake website that looks like the real deal, but has a slight tweak: instead of the expected domain, you’ll be taken to a different site. Once you entered sensitive information (usually your email address and/or password), the scammer will make off with your credit card details.

Scam #5: Nigerian Scams & 419

Nigerian scams are one of the more common variants of email scams that you’ll encounter. The general idea behind a Nigerian scam is to trick you into providing them with payment details so that they can “invest” your money in a questionable business venture. The name comes from the country where most of these scams originate, but the reality is that you’ll find these cons mostly everywhere across the world. Typically, you’ll be asked to send money to purchase a product that will be shipped to your home. Once the product is delivered, the scammer will ask you to send them more money to cover various fees. Never, ever, send money to anyone you’ve never met and who doesn’t appear to be from a reputable company.

Scam #6: Online Work Opportunities

There are many variants of this scam, from simple job offers (such as “Accounting Clerk”) to more sophisticated ones that will try to scare you away from doing online work by implying that your account will be frozen if you don’t perform a specific action (such as entering your credit card information). When you see a job offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam #7: MLM Scams & “Friendly” Marketing

Multi-level marketing scams are one of the most common scams associated with online work opportunities. Just like pyramid schemes, MLM scams involve someone pretending to be your friend, then convincing you to sign up for a service that will promote their product. Once you’ve been convinced, you’ll be flooded with emails from “friends” that you’ve never even met, trying to convince you to buy their product. Stay away from these types of “relationships” — they will never, ever work in your favor.

Scam #8: Fake Charity Projects & “Buy-one-get-one” Sales

A common scam in the world of online work opportunities is to try to trick you into participating in a fake charity project. Usually, you’ll be asked to participate in a short-lived campaign where you’ll be given a fake charity website that looks like a real deal, but which has a hidden agenda. The site might ask you for a donation or give you some bogus reason for collecting money. Once you’ve given them your cash, you’ll be asked to buy a product from a different website that’s been “paid for” with your donated funds. The product that you’re expected to buy will have nothing to do with the charity that you were tricked into supporting.

Scam #9: Online Gambling & “Free” Betting

Many online gambling sites will try to lure you in with the promise of free casino games or other gimmicks such as free bet offers, but, ultimately, this is a scam. The only way you can actually get “free” casino games is if you meet the proper qualifications. There are many variants of this particular scam, from claiming that you won a prize to being given free bets after making a certain amount of side bets. Once you’ve fallen for this kind of trick, it’s almost impossible for you to win back your funds without revealing sensitive information (such as your Social Security number).

Scam #10: Pay-to-Play Schemes

One of the more recent scams to hit the internet is the pay-to-play scheme. Just like the previous ones, this one involves trying to trick you into performing some action (playing a game or making a purchase) in exchange for something (usually money). The big difference between a pay-to-play scheme and the other scams discussed so far is that this one is designed to appear completely legitimate. Instead of trying to trick you into performing an action (such as providing sensitive information), the scammer will actually want you to actively participate in the pay-to-play scheme by playing a particular game or making a purchase. This is why it’s so important to do your research before getting involved with any new online endeavor. By taking the time to find out what to watch out for, you’ll be able to avoid being scammed by these schemes.