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5 Common Affiliate Marketing Scams To Watch Out For

5 Common Affiliate Marketing Scams To Watch Out For

Affiliate marketing is a legitimate industry. There are no two ways about that. Don't let anyone tell you the whole industry is a scam!

However, there definitely are some affiliate marketing scams that we've seen people fall prey to. This often happens to newbies and leaves them with a bad taste in their mouths.

We don't want you to become disillusioned with affiliate marketing, so keep reading and stay safe. 

Affiliate Marketing Scam Examples

Like any other online industry, there are plenty of scams doing the rounds in the world of affiliate marketing. Scammers (unfortunately) are always trying to find new ways to make money off innocent affiliates. 

These are some of the most common affiliate marketing scams we've come across.

1. Fake Affiliate Marketing Training

Most newbie affiliates like to do a training course to get started in the industry. There will be hundreds of people trying to sell you a course, an e-book, a webinar and various other kinds of information. Do your research before you pick your training program.

Many of these training programs are often nothing more than a rip-off. You don't actually learn anything useful and you're out whatever money you spent, as well. At the most, you might get an e-book that is full of fluff and no real, actionable lessons. So make sure do your training with a well known name. 

Check out AffiloBlueprint - a step-by-step system for newbies that shows you how to build an income from your website. 

2. Get-Rich-Quick Offers

The reason affiliate marketing gets such a bad rap is because of the proliferation of get-rich-quick offers everywhere. They promise you will make thousands of dollars overnight, or that you can just work 2 hours a day and have $5,000 in your bank account at the end of the week. 

Don't fall for it. 

get rich quick offer

If anyone tries to sell you a "secret system that works," don't believe them. Legitimate affiliate marketing takes a bit of time to learn and while you will make money from it, it doesn't happen overnight. You need a strategy and you need to implement it well before you make any income.

3. No Product/Service to Sell

Affiliate marketers make their money by promoting someone else's product or services. If a company is promising you thousands of dollars in income, look closer. What is it that you're actually selling? If there is no actual product or service, it's nothing more than a scam.

These affiliate marketing "opportunities" are designed like pyramid schemes where no one is actually making any money. You make an investment to join the program and after that, money is just passed around from one person to the next. These schemes are totally illegal! You will lose your investment, and you're not going to make any affiliate income from it, either. 

4. Pay-To-Join Programs

Real, legitimate affiliate programs are free to join. An authentic affiliate program should be risk-free for affiliates. You should never have to pay a fee to sign up to a program. If you are asked to pay a fee to join, steer clear. It is most likely an illegal multi-level marketing scheme. 

Be sure to check out our forum post on how to tell the legitimacy of an affiliate program

5. Domain Name Scams

This was a popular scam doing the rounds a couple of years ago. Say you owned the domain abc.com. You would receive an email (usually from China) telling you that someone is trying to register the domain name abc.cn in China. They are emailing you out of concern as they have noticed you own the .com domain. They want to make sure your trademark is protected in China.

If you fall for the blatant lie, they will tell you as the original owner of the particular business name, they will give you preference. So you have the right to register the abc.cn domain name with them, first. You will be sent a price list and they will make money off you by making you purchase a domain name that you didn't ever need.

There are a few other variations of this type of scam, so beware of any random emails concerning your domain names. 

How to Avoid Internet Affiliate Marketing Scams

The rule of thumb before signing up for any affiliate program or affiliate training course is to do your due diligence. There are some well known and reputable programs and courses in the industry (including ours!) but when you're new, it's hard to tell.

Follow these tips to make sure you don't get caught up in an affiliate marketing scam.

Ask Google

The easiest way to find out the legitimacy of any affiliate program or training course is to Google it. If it's a well known scam, you will more than likely see reports about it online. If you can't tell just by searching for the name, try searching for variations, such as "[affiliate program name] scam" or "[affiliate program name] ripoff." You can also search for "[affiliate program name] reviews," etc. 

The Company Website

If Google isn't yielding much information, head straight to the company website. Legitimate companies in the affiliate marketing industry always have professional websites. If this is not the case, it should raise a red flag for you.

Genuine Commission Percentage

As an affiliate, you will make money off commissions. If a company is offering a ridiculously high commission percentage, don't believe it straight away. It's not impossible (some programs really are quite generous), but it's better to do your research and see if they really pay out their affiliates. Also, make sure the products and services they offer are genuine and of good quality.

If It's Too Good To Be True

Image credit: Farces of Nature

The bottom line is, if something is too good to be true, you are better off being suspicious about it. Be wary of unrealistic offers, easy money schemes and any businesses (especially foreign) offering to help you with something out of the blue.

Use your common sense and you have nothing to worry about. There are hundreds of genuine and completely legitimate ways to make money as an affiliate. Be aware of the affiliate marketing scams, but don't let them keep you up at night!

Do you know of any other affiliate marketing scams that we've missed? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.

31 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Nylisha Gilbert2140 days ago

    Good Read! I wish I had this when I first got started early in 2014. I took one year off from Affiliate Marketing and I'm ready to jump back in the industry

    Radhika Basuthakur2135 days ago

    Thanks Nylisha. Good to hear you're getting back into it. Good luck!

  • Reply LLOYD GORDON2123 days ago

    Your article makes for a very interesting read Radhika. Over several decades now I have engaged in Entrepreneurship marketing my own inventions/publications, as well as Affiliate Marketing for Health Food Companies such as GNLD, Symmetry, Herbalife, a.s.o. There were no established courses in Jamaica at the time of my commencement. Having gained experience and being petitioned with requests for help, I am trying to help some people, locally, who wish to sign up for the courses which I am fleshing out with selected sign-up offers of a legitimate nature for test driving practise. Few people are funded to the level of appropriate sophistication expected in the U.S.A., but well intentioned ones, such as myself, can make a difference by providing preliminary training which can then be 'fleshed out' at your U.S.A. levels, should the Course Participant wish to follow through. I intend to offer your fine programme to my students as soon as they arrive at the appropriate level to benefit. Part of the problem in Jamaica is linguistic difficulties due to the Jamaican dialect/language which can be taxing when local students attempt foreign courses structured in the Standard English Language that they are unfamiliar with at home. I have taken due note of your scam commentary and hope that will not reflect on our local efforts which are not based on 'solicitation'.

  • Reply raouas mohamed2117 days ago


  • Reply Konrad Smit • 1608 days ago

    Hi Perrin,always a pleasure meeting fellow marketers online.
    I agree with Affiliate Marketing being a good online business and people always have the tendancy of extracting the negative out of everthing.
    These Scans online is bad for everyone and i can understand why this makes everyone sceptics.
    But there are Legit ways of making money online with todays technology.
    Just bad for us that we have to continuesly fight against these online scams.
    Cheers for now

  • Reply 1589 days ago

    I am so tired of the affiliate marketing scams. Thomas Witek, who has been a marketing for only a few years, falls on the fact that he was a "former" apple developer. Several times the programs he puts out he promises lifetime updates, but this is so FAR from the truth. He's very rude when you call him out on this. Recently he sold Tube Hammer. Thought it was interesting and when I got the program, already had a YouTube account banned in 48 hours, after he said it wasn't possible. I had the YouTube account for 4 years and just now after using TubeHammer it's banned. I also paid for ClickJacker 4, and after 8 emails to him and his nonexistent support, he still has not responded. Well, today I will report this to PayPal and get a refund and asked that he be banned because of his persistent scams, which others are also complaining about on a mass basis. I promise to get him BARRED/BANNED and report him to the Better Business Bureau and wherever else I can to get him off of his fake affiliate marketing kick. He's another one with the fake screen shots. I called him out on this and still no response to this. BEWARE OF "THOMAS WITEK.

  • Reply Andrejs • 1553 days ago

    Thanks Radhika for the reminder. Your scam list actually is nothing new for me but anyway people tending to forget and fall into the temptation of easy money traps. Number five in the list is it that I never paid attention to. Thanks for the warning.

  • Reply Ron Ireland1251 days ago

    How do I check the reputation of an affiliate site. They all want money up front and promise the moon then you can't even get a response. There has to be a legit way to make money at this. I am not afraid to work and learn but I need a company that is going to provide what they promise in order to get my investment

    Cecille Loorluis1251 days ago

    Hi Ron,

    I understand where you're coming from. It can be difficult to tell which ones are legit and which ones aren't. My rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I also check a website and its product's online reputation. There are all sorts of forums and review sites that can help you find out if a company and its products are the real deal or not.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

    Christopher Reed596 days ago

    if you are looking for a real affiliate program/Company that really pays i personally recommend that you check out partnerstack.com who was originally called growsumo they are a very well rounded company i have been working with them ever since they had started and i have never had any problems with them. i would provide you with my referral link but because i want to be honest and tell you from my experience this is one of the best in my own opinion. and i don't want to be rude to the blogger by posting a referral link to the company. unless given permission to do so.

  • Reply Sherri 1232 days ago

    Thank you so much for your website it has been a real eye opener and something to fall back on when you need help

  • Reply William Garland1140 days ago

    Thank you so much for being real. A lot of people get taken advantage of and it's uplifting to see they're are still honest people out there

  • Reply Bonnie hanna1093 days ago

    Has any one heard of affiliate marketing training .com Oregon? And is it legitimate?

    Cecille Loorluis1091 days ago

    Hi Bonnie,

    I have not heard of that website so I can't really say for sure if they are legitimate or not.

    All the best!

  • Reply mike • 921 days ago

    Another (possibly new) one is for the merchant to provide you access to Google Analytics, but completely omit the tracking tag from the conversion funnel.

    So even if you are making sales, you can't see it in Google Analytics. You just have to put blind faith in the merchant to inform you of when THEY SAY you made a sale.

    I informed my merchant of this, and I got totally ignored. I think I'm gonna focus on my own website and just forget about affiliate marketing altogether.

  • Reply Gareth 900 days ago


    Thank you for tips, I used to promote Clickbank products, but after problems with product quality, I decided to go my own way instead. I now only blog on my own site and it is going well.

  • Reply Courtney 896 days ago

    This was something I needed to read, I am very new to marketing and these were very helpful tips I need to be aware of. I haven't experienced any scams yet but now I am aware that they are out there. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Reply Christy 879 days ago

    Made 6 sales in a week for a company that was supposed to do a $200 commission per sale. I was excited when my account racked up to $1200 of income the first few days! But the next business day after the weekend all those payouts mysteriously read, "VOIDED". The company kept the sales and took all the commissions away from me! Now either ShareASale nor the merchant won't answer my emails or phone calls!! They took the sales and never paid out and will not communicate with me at all. Complete scam!

    Cecille Loorluis876 days ago

    Hi Christy,

    I'm sorry to hear about your experience. This comes as a surprise as ShareASale is a reputable affiliate network. They have been around for a long time now.

    Maybe there were fees, or the merchant asked for certain requirements to be made, before you can get the commission?

    I hope you haven't been burned so bad you're not going to try again. There are other affiliate networks out there like ClickBank and Commission Junction.

    All the best!

  • Reply MJL Things • 877 days ago

    I have been planning Affiliate Marketing for my online store MJL Things and would appreciate if you can provide me some references to proceed with.

    Cecille Loorluis876 days ago

    What niche is your website about? You can check out affiliate networks like ClickBank foor affiliate offers. There's MarketHealth and Offervault for CPA offers.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply 832 days ago

    It’s a huge list of affiliate sites.. Happy to save all the sites from the list. I hope will help me to make some decent money online, also kindly share with me any affiliate guide to follow from you too !!

  • Reply Sam • 777 days ago

    affiliate2day program is more than good. I was not that satisfied with some payment issues in the very beginning but now it works 100%

  • Reply Farrah keji746 days ago

    Hi guys, does anyone here knows if revenue vault pay per call is legit

    Cecille Loorluis741 days ago

    Hi Farrah,

    I have not tried Revenue Vault personally so I can't really say, but looking at the reviews online, they appear to be legit. They work similar to Offervault, with the latter more popular and established than Revenue Vault.

    All the best!

    Romola 556 days ago

    Hello have you tried working with revenue vault, pay per call, are they legit and have you had any problems

  • Reply Russ Hamilton683 days ago

    Thanks for the tips. Are you familiar with Advance Associate Solutions/Opt In Marketing Group. My wife just signed us up for that one. They have been very responsive and have answered all questions, but I just noticed there is no website. Thoughts?

    Cecille Loorluis680 days ago

    Hi Russ,

    I am not familiar with them, and their name is generic in that they point to a lot of similar companies. Since they are responsive, I suggest you ask them for their official company name and their website, then search online for reviews on their company or group.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply pablo porro670 days ago

    I think it's essencial to do your due diligence ahead of time when signing up to pretty much anything now adays, so this article comes in extremely handy! Thank you :)

  • Reply Jean 617 days ago

    Hi there,

    Wondering if you know anything about Affilate institute? If not could I speak with you about it?

    Cecille Loorluis617 days ago

    Hi Jean,

    I have heard about Affiliate Institute but have not tried their training programs personally.

    There are plenty of reviews on their training programs online from people who have tried it.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply Alfred 601 days ago

    There are a lot of affiliate marketing that are scam affiliated scheme,right now there are one that name wealthy affiliate that is definitely a scam after they get you to training after that they are charging a fee for it,these scammers are showing us a house full of us dollars,they are crazy.and even clickbank too.

  • Reply Linda Clark589 days ago

    I was called by a guy named Mike saying he was a recruiter for Amazon Affiliates. For $200.00 he could get me started because it costs $1200.00 to set it up, then he said for another $100.00 he could add Apple and others beside Amazon. I agreed and a man named Todd called me 10 days later for an interview and said I would be all set in 3 weeks,I have heard nothing since, it's been 4 weeks and I can't reach them by phone. Someone called and said he would have someone call me and no one has. I want my money back! They are representing Amazon with 10% commission on every purchase my customer makes.I never got started!

  • Reply Annie 567 days ago

    Hi, I just started looking into affiliate marketing. Some of the websites and persons ask fees for the courses they offer. How would we know they are real or fake?

  • Reply DARLENE UMOH566 days ago

    Please is Revenue Vault paypercall legit?.... I want to know more about this company before I could enroll with them

  • Reply Miracle O.502 days ago

    Do u know of Salesblotter? Are they legit enough?
    Some 'riteads.com' guys messaged me via email and said I could be trained as an affiliate for Salesblotter, if I am willing to pay for the courses online.
    Still thinking about making the move...

  • Reply Wisdom 404 days ago

    Do riteads charge any fee for their CPA training

  • Reply Tina Askew • 395 days ago

    Is Super Affiliate Network a scam I joined with an initial less than $50. I have been going to training and all of these classes are leading up to an important call. I feel like on the call they are going to hit me with a astronomical amount to access the "program" that is supposed to make me thousands of $$ a month. I do admit the classes have taught me some things but there is a lot of shaming and urgency about finishing theses classes and getting to the call. It does come with a 30 day money back but haven't tried to get a refund yet.

  • Reply Charles 384 days ago

    Am new and want to join online marketing business.How do i get started.So green on this, what is a domain, website and how will it help me to be in business.I mean what is the use of domain and website.Kindly i hope you understand my concern, advice accordingly, thanks

    Cecille Loorluis349 days ago

    Hi Charles,

    I suggest you go over our free lessons at https://www.affilorama.com/lessons

    Our free lessons will give you a background on how affiliate marketing works.

    All the best!

  • Reply Andy • 370 days ago

    We have been told for 20 years to never click on a link, it will bring a virus to your device or take you to a fake web page. Never click on links. So how does affiliate marketing work if people like me never EVER click on links? If I want ebay, I go to ebay.com directly.

    Cecille Loorluis349 days ago

    Hi Andy,

    Affiliate marketing these days is based on trust. When you trust the website you are on, then you tend to click the links on its pages because you know the website you are browsing is trustworthy/reliable.

    This is similar to clicking on the links influencers recommend. These are often affiliate links.

    All the best!

  • Reply Lisa • 233 days ago

    Revenue vault is a verified scam. They will keep asking you to pay money and you will NEVER receive anything in return. Don't let all the websites and google adwords and their strategies deceive you, it's a scam. BEWARE!

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