How to Spot Online Marketing Scams & Not Become Another Victim!

As someone who has been scammed online for $1,000’s in his time, I know a thing or two about how to spot online marketing scams and identifying which are legit and which are not. I would like to share with you how I personally distinguish them.

How to avoid online marketing scams tutorial (if you haven’t already seen it).

The online scam test. Which of the following statements are a scam?

  • “See how 1 homeless man went from $0 to $300,000+ monthly!” 
  • “2 Google insiders expose a loophole in system that generates $1,000’s!”
  • “How 1 complete newbie in online marketing went from nothing to making 6 figures yearly!”
  • “Simple 3 click process generates full time income for ANYONE”
  • “How to generate a full time income using this proven 3 step formula”
  • “Effortlessly earn up to $5,000 monthly by answer SIMPLE surveys from home”
  • “Create a successful online business in 30 days OR LESS!”

If you feel all of the above statements are either shady or a scam, then you passed the test! To many this is obvious, but you’d be surprised to know just how many people fall for this kind of wording every single day! But what if you do take the plunge? What if you actually decide to try out the products from places that write like this? 

Here’s what’ll usually happen if you buy one of these products:

Their M.O is basically the same:

Make fancy website —> Attract customer with fancy labeling —> Give them a small snippet —> Get them to join —> Persuade them to buy $100-$1,000’s promising the real deal.

I’ve seen this formula repeat itself TONS of time. Places like Empower Network, Pure Leverage, Paid Survey sites, Zeek Rewards, multi level marketing companies, most make money online products constantly do this! You’ll be told it only costs a little bit to join and get all the benefits but then later find out you need to buy $100’s or even $1,000’s worth of products to actually learn anything. One company that is notorious for this is Empower Network.

When is it a good idea to take the plunge? Though most products are scams and/or outdated, at the very least if the company offers you a free trail or access to it, then and only then can you sign up, but if you get nothing after you sign up except more sale’s pitches, then it’s a sign to turn back. Many companies do this, but at the very least, you didn’t invest into it. 

Note: If you have been scammed online before, please report it here.

How to Spot Online Scams: The 3 Rules of Thumb!

Rule #1: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

Ex: Apply rule #1 if any online product/service…

  • Gives you the impression that making money online is simple.
  • Says you can be successful via a few clicks.
  • Guarantees you can be make a full time income in 30 days.
  • Uses cliche wording such as the statements I wrote above.
  • Important: Gives you a video presentation or sale’s page and promises to show you how to make a lot of money, but instead only brags about how much you can make and basically doesn’t show you how the system works.
  • Has you sign up for “free” promising you tons of things and then immediately sends you up-sells and says “This is a one time offer that will never appear again”. Do not fall for this. Companies who promise big, but then only give you sale’s pitches are full of it.

Rule #2: If you see any of these words:

Easy, Automated, Full proof, Loophole, Effortless, Done for you, Backlink packages, Simple, 1 (2, 3, ect…) Simple Click System, Magic Formula, ect…

Turn the other way!

Rule #3: Always research a company before joining it! 

It’s not always easy to find honest review of products, but they are out there (This site is one of them). But above all, if you see a review that does nothing but praises a company and uses any terms/works you saw in rule’s #1 and #2, assume the review is full of crap! Know that there ARE real legitimate programs which can teach you to make honest money online (my #1 recommendation). Though they are few, they are out there. Be sure to check out the “Best places to learn” for a list of the good ones.

Update 8/10/16:

For those of you who have unfortunately been scammed, I have written an article on how you can recover your money! 

Final Recommendations & Where To Find Truly Legitimate Places:

Identifying online scams is both easy and hard. People who are completely new to online marketing will often encounter A LOT Of difficulty doing this. In fact most of the scams I went through was when I was a complete newbie to this business. But after reading this article, I hope this subject has become much easier to understand.

I do have a confession to make though and this is something I feel you will also experience: To this day, in spite of my experience, whenever I see the same kind of advertising whose products I preach against, a part of me WANTS to believe it’s real and click on it. It’s absolutely genius marketing, but in the end it’s nothing more than a scam. And here’s why:

Most of these companies use this type of advertising to arouse our senses. We as people are generally curious. We want to know how to make more money. We want to know what the “secret” is. We want to believe in a system that does everything for us and we can sit back in our pj’s and enjoy the show.

However, in reality this is not how it works. You cannot make money online by sitting back and doing nothing. This business can be extremely rewarding, but it requires you firstly get proper guidance and secondly use the proper guidance (take action!).

The Only Legit Place I recommend:WA

There are very few places which do in fact offer real opportunities at making money through the internet and honestly, and the only one I personally recommend is this one: Wealthy Affiliate. Unlike other places which promise big, but only end up scamming you, this place is truly free to join, and gives you the realistic ways of making a great income online. And by realistic, I mean honest!

Do you have a story of an online scam you experienced? Please share it below! You can also report it here. Let’s get as many people as possible exposed to how to spot these fraudulent companies and put them out of business for good!

honest review


  1. Terry

    Hi Vitaliy,

    Thank you for reinforcing the signs that people are being scammed online. Your education and reminders are vital, and a great service to us. The only reason I haven’t been (totally) scammed myself, is I always look up on Google if such and such a program is a scam. The only program to have no negative reviews, was Wealthy Affiliate.

    All the BEST,

  2. Jonathan Hopkins

    Great article Vitaliy! I’ve been scammed so many times it isn’t funny at all. And like you I STILL almost fall for a flashy splash page. You think how can they say these things if they’re not true. This may be the one! And even if you research programs there are planted ads out there that are only there to fool you. Now I look for programs that have a history. Like Wealthy Affiliate!

    • Vitaliy

      Agreed Jonathan! Like I say many times, internet scams and finding a legitimate program online is like a mine field. It is important for us to point people in the right direction and help them avoid being scammed.

  3. Scott

    Visit the special offers area of the Warrior Forum, and you will see a butt load of offers that sound just like what talked about in this post.

    • Vitaliy

      Heh, I know what you mean Scott! WF has a lot of garbage being advertised on a near daily basis. They sell you this “amazing” SEO/PPC course and promise millions. The truth is that there is no shiny object out there that does it, only education and proper guidance 🙂

  4. Anna Jones

    Very nice article; thank you for sharing! My roommate received something in the mail about a big secret that will make her very rich… I did a bit of online research and found out it was a scam. Just goes to show that the only way to stay scam free is to do your research! Good advice!

    • Vitaliy

      Thanks Anna. I’m glad you found out about that place before it was too late. Shady companies always use the same formula: Attract people through certain wording like secrets, loop holes and all the other words I mentioned. Not saying all of them are scams, but in the end research is really the only way you’ll know about it.

  5. Chip Paulson

    I know what you mean- to this day, I feel that twinge ef “hope” when I see some of the better scam advertisements. Funny thing is that with their ability to do effective marketing, those scam artists likely could teach you some valuable stuff if only they would come back from the dark side. To some, scamming is the only way they know to get ahead.

    • Vitaliy

      You got that right Chip! There certainly are ways to use this type of advertising to get visitors, but if you’re going to be successful with this method, you need to have a product or service that TRULY backs up the claims. Otherwise the customer will leave, always.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *