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What is affiliate fraud? All answers here!


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Fraud is probably the most feared activity in the affiliate marketing industry. It's alarming and unethical, and can be a problem in many different fields and industries.

One of the challenges to tackle in 2017 for the mobile marketing industry is precisely the fraud subject.

Sadly, this industry is still haunted by this nefarious practice. Terminating it swiftly is the ultimate goal.

Now that's a daily challenge to identify fraud and prevent it's appearance!

What is fraud?
Affiliate fraud is broadly understood as a non-compliance to the rules. Therefore, fraud may refer not only to what you do with your traffic, but also to your strategies to draw traffic, the creatives (banners or pre-landers) you use on your campaigns or even the documents that you upload on your affiliate network platform.

It's every action performed which isn’t compliant with the rules. Any type of illegal activity designed with the intention to cheat users, buyers or companies.

There are many activities that you can perform that’ll surely get you labeled as a fraudster. As I’ve pointed out before, there’s a bunch of stuff that can be considered fraud.

What Can Be Classified as Fraud?
For starters, fake leads. These are very popular among fraudulent practices. Basically, I’m referring to affiliates who create software that actually mimics human behavior and generates fake conversions on offers.

Another popular way of misleading your affiliate network, and which is related to the previous one, is to do what’s commonly known as a proxy sale.

This means that the affiliate is using a VPN to ‘send traffic’ from a country that pays better for their conversions – the affiliate does not actually promote the link, but instead tries to hoodwink the affiliate network, making the people responsible believe the conversions are real.

Another popular type of fraud is using methods involving incentives on offers that don’t allow that kind of paid promotion. Affiliates who force users to make a specific action on an offer page aren’t welcome.

The same stands for users who’re motivated to subscribe to an offer because they know they’ll get something in return. Once again, the user subscribed because they wanted something other than the offer.

You’ll find that this business has already found time and place for incentivized offers. You can play with them, no doubt about it. Incentivized. Remember the name. Those are the ones that should be used in case you wanna lure people into clicking away!

A non-incentivized offer appearing as an incentivized offer? It’s a huge crime!

It should be forbidden to make people perform the action you want them to. You can’t force someone to buy an apple if they want a banana instead.

In fact, if the customer doesn’t want it, you don’t give it to them! That’s bad business and a lousy practice!

A type that’s usually not regarded as fraud by affiliates is the incorrect use of creatives to promote the offers. Well, don’t be fooled: different countries, different operators and different regulators have different rules and you can’t be promoting an offer for WhatsApp with a Candy Crush banner.

Don’t use a topless banner in a country that only allows for a sexy banner.

NEVER use misleading banners to promote your offers and you can’t use non-compliant banners to attract more users.

Play the game according to the rules and you’ll have no problems. Defy the rules and set yourself to end up excommunicated, which is exactly what you deserve.

Want to know what happens when fraud happens?
How do affiliate networks prevent it?
And what does it all have to do with advertisers?

Find more answer to your questions about fraud in the original version of this article on Mobidea Academy!
Also, in my opinion, false scarcity, other "aggressive" advertising pretending the computer is infected and clickjacking are all fraud as well.

It is based on a lie or by highjacking something. If I click on a post to see more information, I do not want that link to become a facebook like to a page I never saw and never intended to like anyway. What if that page was promoting something I find offensive.

All of this can make an affiliate network look REALLY bad in the eyes of customers and can damage the industry as a whole.

What do you think about .. aggressive advertising, false scarcity and clickjacking?
It seems to be a thing for some affiliates.

I personally do not do those things and I strongly disapprove them. The problem is, these methods show up from time to time as a viable method on every affiliate forums that I go.
One additional type is abusing programs which provide instant commission payments when the product is still refundable.

  • perform several purchases using "buyer" acounts
  • collect commissions then close their account
  • cancel the purchases and accept full refunds in the buyer accounts
For this reason, JVZoo (for example) constantly warns against approving unknown affiliates for instant commissions.