You may have been reading how the Attorney Generals of most states, as well as the FTC are bringing down folks peddling Acai, Google Cash, IQ Quiz, Cash for Clunkers, and other scams. Sanford Wallace was nailed for judgments of $873 million and $234 million for spamming Facebook and MySpace– that’s over a billion dollars against just one guy. I recently sat down with Steve Richter, who is President of Affiliate.com, as well as the sharpest lawyer in Internet marketing, to get his thoughts.
- You’re not safe because you’re just an affiliate: They’re going after anyone involved– any affiliates, advertisers, networks, carriers, and whoever. Some folks, who I won’t out here, are doing blatantly illegal things that will certainly land them behind bars. These folks may “think” that they’re making money, but probably aren’t factoring in the cost of getting caught. They’re too smart, they think– even boasting about it on Facebook, which just creates more evidence for the authorities.
- If anything you claim is false, you’re guilty: Don’t create flogs that claim 3 months of improbably weight loss, if the program has been around for only a week. The authorities will ask you for proof of these claims– and if you can’t produce them, they got you. Consider the Top 10 Online Scams from the FTC. And consider how Facebook shut down two social ad networks for passing through user information to their landing pages.
- There’s tons of legit ways to make money: Have you tried ringtones via ringnrock.com, online dating reviews, or even blogging about your favorite hobbies? Sure, you won’t make as much in one shot, but in the long run will be more successful. Most of the scammers may have one day they do $10k, $50k, or even $100k– but they’re one hit wonders. Incidentally, Scott Richter told me this afternoon that if someone boasts about how much they do in one day, it’s a sure sign that they had just one good day and are likely broke.
You can still promote many of the biz opp, mobile, and weight loss offers– just don’t say anything untrue.
It’s quite easy to think that you can’t get caught because you’ve been doing it a while and haven’t been caught yet, are under 18, or know many others that are doing it. Watch out for a ton of people going to jail for a long time.
As Steve Richter told me– it’s not whether they catch you, it’s when.
This guest post was written by Dennis Yu of BlitzLocal, a marketing company which focuses on local advertising. Dennis Yu was also the moderator at Affiliate Summit East 09 on the Facebook Advertising panel.