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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Don't Fall For This Common Referal Spam Scam

MakeUseOf Newsletter

Watch That You Don't Fall For This Common "Referral Spam" Scam

by Craig Snyder

referral spam

Just this week, I noticed a very popular scam resurface and begin circulating around message boards and similar Internet communities. The Internet is filled with scammers and other bad people. Those of us with years of Internet experience know all about receiving emails relating to 419 scams. They are relentless. You should consider this to be the lower tier of online scams.

From Craigslist to your personal inbox, it's inevitable that you'll find yourself in a position where you've got to look at one of these ugly scams straight in the face and make a decision. One that seems to catch a lot of gullible people is a scam that presents them with an incentive to get them to send referral traffic to their website.

What Does The Referral Spam Scam Look Like?

The referral spam scam has many different faces. The core of this scam is to interest people in a product, picture, or other endgame. To obtain this item, the user will need to send a certain number of people to the website, using a referral link. A referral link is a link with a unique tag to it that acts as a way to translate any traffic that comes through that link as your referral. The link will typically look something like this: In this example,KAS78FKDG would be considered your referral ID. Backends of these scam websites are coded to credit all traffic incoming from that link to you.

These types of scam websites come in all shapes and sizes. The idea that I recall most vividly is a website with a picture of a female, usually claiming to be a jealous ex-lover's girlfriend. The setup is that this jealous ex-lover has multiple revealing pictures of this female, and to "unlock" each picture you'll need to send traffic to your unique referral link. Referrals that you send in typically have to perform some sort of action, like wait a certain number of seconds, click an ad, or participate in a link, and then you are credited with that referral. The more referrals you get, the more shameful pictures are revealed.

This scam doesn't only target an adult audience, although that's one of the most viable forms of pulling this off successfully (as coming up with a naughty pic set online is, as you can imagine, not very difficult).

referral spam