Who wants to get scammed and have their money stolen? Obviously, no one wants that traumatic experience to happen in their lives.
Unfortunately in most cases, people from across the globe are being taken advantage of by internet frauds here and there. That’s why a lot of victims are dreading the online world when it comes to making money online.
So what can we do about it? Does that mean we should lose faith in having an online business and give up the dream of financial freedom?
I suggest you don’t. Making money online really works. But in order to do so, you must equip yourself with the right knowledge to move forward.
This article will serve as one of those tools you need to get yourself back on the right track. I’ll teach you how to study Internet schemes that are being offered to you to determine whether a program is legit or a scam. Sounds interesting to you? Then let’s move on.
Know These Key Indicators to Detect Online Scams
Without further ado, let’s head on to the elements that characterize an online fraud, which I learned from experience and intuition of looking at money-making programs online. Take note that these indicators don’t have to be “on” all at the same time. But if there’s too much of it, then most likely it’s a scam.
1. Costs Too Much Money
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make money on the Internet, but there are a lot of programs doing so. I’ve seen some that offer seemingly “quality” tools and services, but offered at a staggering price.
For instance, one would pretend selling something for $10. But once you get in, you’ll be offered yet another purchase to take (called upsells) as a supplement for your training in order to have greater success. That’s not all, because there’s another huge upsell in place, followed by another one, and then another.
I hope you do the math or else, your money will go down the drain and before you know it, you’ve spent more than $500 in products and services! And guess what, you haven’t even started yet!
I recommend you join a platform only if it offers a free trial of its services or at least, a money-back guarantee for 30 to 60 days.
2. Unrealistic Results and Promises
A lot of people (including me) have always been fascinated with the idea of getting rich in a very short time while exerting less effort. They let their curiosity take control, only to end up weeping in tears as they get scammed.
There are many unrealistic programs that have scattered on the Web: instant cash, instant traffic, instant content, instant rankings, foolproof systems, you name it. It may look pleasant to people, but the methods involved are questionable.
You’ll notice that these same companies are the ones flashing nice-looking mansions and sports cars in their sales pages. They’re so good at activating your “greed glands” that you have no choice but to bite the bait. While you’re still floating in fantasy, they’re already stealing your money.
So the next time you stumble on a website that promises you 1,000’s of dollars in a few weeks, you know what to do. Quickly hit the back button and find something else. Don’t ask why, just avoid them if you don’t want to suffer in the end.
3. “Done For You” Tools
Ready-made systems make your work convenient so that you can focus on what really matters. However, speculative sites go too far by promising you tools that don’t even deserve simplifying in the first place.
Do you think you’ll be successful with a built-in website? Will your ready-made sales page convert lots of sales just because the training said so? If you’re provided with digital products that you can sell in your website, will someone even buy that from you?
Here’s the truth, you’re better off building your platform and products from scratch because then, you can take full control of your results. Yes, creating a website and optimizing a sales page is gruelling, but the learning experience you’ll get is priceless.
As a general rule, if you encounter a company taking advantage of your laziness and the fact that some things will take months (or years) to build, stay away from it.
4. Lots of Negative Reviews
No money-making scheme, even legit ones, is free from flaws and mistakes. But if there are too many complaints, then you have the right to doubt and take more caution.
I’m sure there are many victims of these scams who rant their feelings on the Web. You can find them in forums, communities, query sites and individual blogs, so make sure to check them out and gather all their opinions.
To find more information about a product or program through Google, just type “[name of company] + review” in the search engines and browse the articles and videos that are provided to you.
If there’s a positive review on a product that you think is a scam, see if the person is affiliated with the company by searching for affiliate links and banners that he or she is promoting. It implies that he or she is biased with the scheme.
5. Fake Testimonials and Proofs
Not all testimonials are real. In fact, there are services involving the creation of fake reviews and video testimonials, which you can easily find in outsourcing sites like Fiverr. Just pay a fee and they’ll act the part for you.
Regarding payment proofs, you’ve got to pay attention to how it was made. Even if the payments are from PayPal, it’s still prone to editing and revising. But with enough practice, it will be easy to spot one.
I must admit, this is a tricky thing to spot especially if you have little knowledge of identifying scams. But if something smells fishy, you can always head over to Google to see more reviews and testimonials from other sites.
6. Lame Web Design
If in the first place the website is poorly designed or is not fit to your standards, then it’s an indicator of something bad. Truly successful businesses give importance to having a professional-looking website, so you must pay attention to that as well.
I’m not saying that bad-looking sites are scams and good-looking ones are not. But through experience, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
An interesting test to conduct in finding scams is called the “homepage test”. Search Google the name of the company and see if the homepage ranks on the first page and within the top 3 spots.
If the site doesn’t appear, it’s either they don’t have a main website, or they received penalties in search rankings and they’re nowhere to be found. I hope you know what that means.
7. Basic Sales Pages
Normally, scammy offers are presented in a boring or generic manner. For instance, if you come across a “sales video only” page with no option to skip and rewind the video, be careful with them.
They designed a website so that you only pay attention to the video and the buy button. They won’t even let you leave the site because they’ll stop you with a dialog box.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are landing pages that are “too flashy” and makes you feel greedy while reading the page. So make sure you develop your intuition to read through this kind of offer and trust your gut feeling in making a decision.
8. Limited Offers to Create Urgency
Ever seen a countdown timer while watching a sales video? If you came across one, let me tell you that it’s a FAKE. They’re simply taking advantage of the feeling of urgency and the fear of missing out the offer. They want to make the opportunity look special to you.
To people who are innocent, I can’t emphasize enough that you must take the time to research the products and the membership site because you’re putting your own money on the line.
9. Offering Discounts or Downsells
Doesn’t it look nice when you see a $100 product being offered for only $25? Too bad though, because the offer is going to expire in just an hour. The truth is, it will always be $25 regardless of when you order it or what price it originated from. It’s only another deceptive trick to trigger your urge to buy.
What if you’re not happy for example, and you want to leave the page as soon as you can? By hitting the back button or attempting to close the tab, some annoying sites slap a pop-up right in your face, telling you to stay and sometimes offer a downsell on you. A $47 product suddenly becomes $37 with no reason why.
Isn’t that stupidity all along? It turns out you have to pretend to leave if you want to avail their program at a lower price. Hey, these kinds of sites are total scams.
10. Stealth Moves
I’ve seen companies that are really sneaky when it comes to presenting their offers to you. One of which I know is Google Sniper 3.0 (thanks to Affiliate Resources for this).
They will first entice you into the program with their nicely presented video. After a few minutes, the buy button will appear along with an offer that says “$47 for instant access to everything”. However, if you don’t read the fine details, in which there’s also a $47 monthly recurring fee, then you’re doomed.
In a sense, upsells are already sneaky in themselves. Any company that upsells on you without even having a chance to try the product or membership, in general, are terrible companies to join in the first place. So stay away from them at all costs.
11. Minimal to No Support at All
One important factor that you must consider in your due diligence is the integrity of their support system. If you have questions and special requests, you need to contact the support team and make sure they attend to your requests fast.
What if you can’t access a tool because it’s broken? What if you want to cancel your account? What if you haven’t received the products yet? What if you demand a refund? To whom are you going to ask these questions if there was no support?
That’s why it’s very important to look for a contact or support page before buying their products. If you don’t see one, that immediately signals a red flag for you.
But if they do have one, go test it right now. Go to their contact page and try asking them any question. If they don’t respond within 24 to 48 hours, then back away and move on to the next product.
12. Unethical/Illegal Practices
Okay, so the product and tools provided look awesome, but something’s nagging you. You realize what you’re doing feels weird because not only does it look different, but it also feels unethical to do so. In worst cases, the techniques you’re learning from the so-called “gurus” are actually illegal to do on the Web.
If you come across an Internet scheme like this, then you know you’re not safe. Not only will you get your accounts or websites banned, it will also damage your reputation as a whole. If you have dignity, please don’t join unethical and illegal sites and always stay on the right path.
13. Smells Like Pyramiding
A particular practice that is often illegal and could cause you some issues is pyramiding. This involves joining a program that has no products or services to promote at all, other than the product itself. The way to earn money from this is by recruiting new members into the scheme to make money out of the fees they have paid.
The most obvious scheme that do this is MLM (called multi-level marketing), and such programs do exist online. Empower Network, MOBE, and Zeek Rewards are just some examples of pyramid scams on the Internet, so avoid them to not end up in regret.
It Takes Some Practice to Spot an Online Scam
While there are many signals that will tell you that something is a fraud, in the end it all boils down to practice. I’m not saying that you buy for the sake of knowing that, there are lots of online reviews that will help you acquire information without having to spend a single dime.
My advice is to keep looking for clues because the more you have in store, the more informed your decision will be. Read review after review, watch video after video, and be careful of any commitment you want to make while taking care of your emotions.
I’d say you stay transparent, and do some research until you are fully convinced to join the program. To get started in reviewing programs, here’s a review of Wealthy Affiliate and see if it helps you or not.
For me, it’s the best place to start because it has a FREE trial that serves you a lot of functionalities even without a credit card. Plus, the first month has a 59% discount if you give the Premium services a try.
How do you spot online scams? I would love to hear some of your techniques in figuring out one by sharing them in the comments below.