An ‘online referral agent’ (ORA) is a firm that promises to get you thousands of qualified leads within a short time frame for virtually any business in any industry. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, yes. Unfortunately, the ORA Scam is all too real. Want to know more? Keep reading.
Key Facts About This Scam
Tvc Marketing Associates Inc. (TMA Inc.) is a Scottsdale, Arizona company that was founded in 2014 and is currently the 17th largest search engine optimization (SEO) service worldwide, according to Clutch Marketing.
The company’s website claims to give you instant access to high-quality leads as well as provides a variety of useful tools to help you generate more business.
While the website does list a number of benefits, there are also a few red flags that you need to be aware of.
Since 2014, TMA Inc. has raised over $15 million in funding from investors including Google Growth Ventures, Greycroft Ventures, and Business Ventures.
Additionally, the company claims it has worked with 150+ clients including Netflix, Blue Chip, HP, and Microsoft.
However, there is no evidence that these clients actually exist. A quick Google search reveals that, in fact, these companies do not exist. Furthermore, despite what the website claims, there is no evidence that the company has generated any revenue.
How Does This Scam Work?
When a potential customer clicks on an advertisement or a link to your website or social media accounts, they are usually taken to a landing page where they are promised access to a wide range of business leads.
The typical ORA scam involves the following steps:
- The fraudster captures the person’s email address (normally by getting them to click on a spam email or click on a suspicious looking link)
- The potential customer is then presented with an option to join a ‘membership program’ for $9.95 per month or $79.95 per year
- The customer is encouraged to join the program because it provides access to a ‘private Facebook group’ where they can engage with other members
- Once they’ve joined the program, the fraudster informs the person that their access to the group has now been upgraded to ‘premium’ (which costs $19.95 per month or $149.95 per year)
- Next, the fraudster encourages the person to make a purchase by presenting them with an option to sign up for ‘the SEO plan’ which costs $49.95 per month or $399.95 per year
- The person making the purchase is then taken to a ‘payment page’ where they’re presented with another option of whether to use a credit card or pay with a check (the website typically asks for credit card information even though it claims to accept checks).
- Once they’ve been convinced to make a purchase, the fraudster collects their personal and financial information and then, after a short delay, sends them an email telling them that their order has been processed and requesting that they click on a link to receive their product or service.
- The person goes through the link in the email and is then billed $14.95 per month or $119.95 per year for the product/service
- The monthly billing cycle is then repeated.
What Is A Private Facebook Group?
To get a better idea of how the scam works, let’s take a look at what a ‘private Facebook group’ is and how it provides the fraudster with an advantage.
A ‘private Facebook group’ is a space where businesses, brands, and other entities can invite people to join their ‘inner circle’ and engage with them through various posts, photos, and video clips.
Since members of a private group can’t be seen by anyone outside the group, this provides the fraudster with a good way to ensnare potential customers who are more likely to be inclined to purchase a product or service because they don’t want their friends to know they’re trying to get something for free.
More About This Scam
If you’re thinking about trying out an ORA or buying a product from them, keep in mind that this is a scam. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to business opportunities.
If you’re interested in trying out the ORA Scam, here are a few places you can report it to: