Online Marketing: The Dark Side

While it’s true that social media have given birth to a wealth of opportunities for marketers, it’s also true that marketers can fall victim to a variety of tactics used by online scammers.

From bogus job offers to convincing people to invest in bogus business opportunities, here are a few ways that marketers can be tricked by online scammers.

Bogus Job Offers

One of the most common ruses for tricking businesses and consumers is the bogus job offer. Through a combination of SEO and social media activities, cyber-scammers can find people’s personal contact details—including their email address—and use that to trap them in an online scam.

When an employer discovers that a constituent has been the victim of a phishing scam, it can be very damaging to their credibility. A survey conducted by the International Association of Advertising Agencies found that 44 percent of respondents lost confidence in an advertiser after learning about a scam.

So, how can marketers prevent being conned by phony job offers?

Firstly, ensure that all of your email communications with potential employers are authenticated. You can do this by either confirming with the sender that their email is genuine or verifying their identity through another means (i.e., phone call, face to face meeting).

Secondly, be leery of unsolicited email offers from unknown sources. These are often sent to promote some dodgy product or service and may contain a virus or be a phishing attempt. When in doubt, delete it!

Business Opportunity Ruses

Another way that scammers lure in the unwary is with the opportunity to make big money through an investment that purportedly provides great returns. One of the more famous schemes of this kind is the Theranos scam. In this case, the scammer will create the illusion of a profitable business by getting you to invest in a hot new biotech company that promises to revolutionize human testing.

What the scammer doesn’t tell you is that they’re charging you thousands for a piece of paper that proves you have ownership in this company. After you’ve paid the money, there’s no going back. You’ll never see a return on your investment.

How can marketers safeguard themselves from being suckered by businesses of this nature?

Firstly, research the company. Look into their governance structure, review how previous investors have performed, and check out their financials. All of these should be available publicly or on request via the SEC or US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Secondly, make sure that what you’re being told is within the realm of possibility. Sometimes, con artists will tell you that you can make millions from an opportunity that sounds too good to be true. So, do your own research before you commit. Be careful about throwing away money on any sort of investment. Especially ones that sound too good to be true. Many times, these schemes end up being nothing more than a Ponzi scheme or a pyramid scheme.

If you suspect that you’ve been or might be the target of a bogus job offer or an investment scam, contact the internet security professionals at You can also read our guide on avoiding online scams to learn how to detect and prevent fraud. Hopefully, this article will help marketers avoid being scammed by their online counterparts.