Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you’re probably familiar with Craigslist.org. It’s the website that has revolutionized placing classified ads, finding jobs, houses, dates, anything you could possibly want you can generally find on Craigslist. While this free market is an amazing resource for the average user, it’s also the perfect opportunity for affiliate marketers to completely disregard the rules and abuse the system to participate in unethical marketing practices. Affiliate marketing in itself is a thriving and very legitimate business for those marketers who use ethical methods to promote their products and offers. Affiliate marketing is essentially promoting an online product or service in order to earn commissions by referring customers or leads to other businesses.
Below are a few examples of some of the more common marketing scams that you may find on Craigslist.
THE DATING TRICK
If there’s an easy sell in this world, it’s the illusion of a potential hot date to a young single male. That’s what makes this underhanded marketing practice so powerful for affiliates. The scam basically works like this. The affiliate goes into the personals section of Craigslist. They place an ad in the singles section pretending to be an attractive young single female. They may post a picture of a cute girl in the ad, and say to reply to the post in order to make contact. The email tied to the account is set up with an auto responder, and when an interested male replies to the ad, they’ll automatically receive an email trying to entice them into signing up for the dating site the marketer is affiliated with. Marketers can get extremely creative here, but some of the more common replies will be something similar to this:
“Hi, thanks for contacting me! I’ve just moved here for school, and I really don’t know anyone in town, so I’m just trying to meet some new people (guys in particular) I’ve been receiving way more replies than I thought I would from this ad, so it’s hard for me to contact each and every one of you. I decided to set up an account on this site (it’s free to sign up!) so that you can find out more about me and see some of my sexier pictures. You should sign up, my profile is JennyXOXO, come find me and send me a picture of yourself! I hope to hear from you soon!”
Now, why is this underhanded marketing, as opposed to just smart marketing? The first victim is the poor unsuspecting guy who thinks he’s going to score a hot date, only to sign up and find out that “JennyXOXO” doesn’t even exist.
In terms of financial damages though, the dating sites are the victims. They are paying the marketer to drive in legitimate leads who are interested in joining their website. If you are a guy, and you’re tricked into signing up for a dating site to meet a girl who doesn’t exist, would you remain a loyal member to the dating site? Most likely not. That’s why this type of marketing is damaging. The dating sites are losing money paying for fraudulent leads, which hurts the affiliate marketing business and it’s reputation as a whole.
OTHER COMMON MARKETING SCAMS
Work From Home Opportunity
We are currently trying to fill 4 work from home positions.
All training is provided. Income potential is performance based.
Our new employees earn $6,000 on average within their first 30 days,
with our top employees currently averaging $40,000 per month.
This is a real opportunity to make REAL money.
When an interested prospect replies to the post, they’ll receive an email or a link to a website with a high pressure sales pitch on why they need to take advantage of the work at home opportunity. So what’s wrong with this picture? First of all, the affiliate most likely has no clue what the opportunity actually is. These business opportunities are normally MLM marketing companies or in many cases an outright scam to separate people from their money. Second, the affiliate has no idea how much money, if any, that people can make with these specific programs. So making false promises of $6,000-$40,000 per month is just a blatant lie. Fraudulent marketing at it’s finest. There are too many variations of these deceptive marketing practices to cover in a single article. Here are some tips that you can use to protect yourself though:
- Always look for the hidden motive. Generally speaking, if they are taking you to an outside website offering a product for sale, they have a hidden agenda.
- Follow the advice that Craigslist offers. Deal locally. Avoid scams.
Craigslist is constantly refining itself and putting systems in place to prevent this kind of marketing from happening. The deceptive marketers are always a step ahead of the system. They will go to great lengths in order to post multiple ads across multiple categories and cities, trick unsuspecting consumers, and do whatever they can to put as much money as possible in their own pockets, with complete disregard for the people they deceive. The best defense against this is to do your part as a member of the Craigslist community. Flag suspicious ads. Community based moderation means that you are responsible for keeping Craigslist spam and scam free. If everyone does their part, we can avoid having Craigslist become a wasteland of spam and fraudulent marketing.