It seems like just about everything in the online income and work at home opportunity world gets labeled as a scam by somebody these days. In many cases, what is and isn’t a scam seems to be in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. 😉
As for me and what I view as scams here on the wild wild web, there are many so called opportunities that I can easily distinguish as outright scams and then there are some things that, while they may possibly stay within the “legal” realm, are simply shady, overhyped, and usually overpriced garbage that people should avoid if they are really looking to create a long term stable income working from home.
The Merriam-Webster definition of a scam is pretty straightforward:
a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation
Ohhh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was just that easy to figure out scams here in cyberspace. Unfortunately, many scams are created by fairly intelligent folks who are pretty good at word play and can add just enough of a touch of legitimacy to make it easy for us to let our desire and/or desperation for a better life override our common sense.
Okay, so what are some of my criteria in determining whether or not something is a scam?
The product or service always comes first
I’m a pretty simple nuts and bolts kind of guy, so the very first thing I look at is always the product or service that is allegedly being sold. If it’s not something that I would buy or that I believe others would be interested in buying without a compensation plan attached, it’s not something that I would be willing to promote just to make money.
Look around at some of the things that are being bundled with opportunities these days. Whether it’s overpriced “lotions and potions” from some of the old school MLMs, $50 advertising packs on traffic exchanges where the only reason people are surfing is to earn from a revshare with no real interest in what they are seeing, or mid to high ticket “education” on whatever topic they are using as a front for their pyramid or ponzi scheme, it’s up to you to determine if you would really pay the asking price if you weren’t joining the opportunity.
When you put your dreams of creating a full time income or of living a luxurious lifestyle ahead of the down and dirty analysis of what’s being promoted, you are setting yourself up to either get screwed and lose money or to become a successful scammer who ruins lives for a living.
Strip out all of the hype, all of the flashing dollar signs, and all of the marketing buzzwords.
Promotion: How, who, and where
Sadly, the majority of MLMs are all about recruiting and the products or services are really an afterthought even if they proclaim differently. Like it or not, whether it’s MLM or affiliate marketing, we are salespeople and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. What we should be selling is products/services, not dreams.
Whether offline or online, the statistics prove that most people simply aren’t cut out to run their own business.
If you are selling something worth buying, you can create a nice residual commission of loyal, satisfied customers, some of whom may eventually become excellent recruits.
If you’re selling dreams, your attrition rate will be worse and you are building a customer base that has zero loyalty to the product. As soon as their initial excitement from the hype wears off, the vast majority will be gone, both as a rep and as a customer.
Another thing to look at is who is promoting the opportunity.
There are tons of gurus and self-proclaimed marketing superstars out there looking to pick your pocket and make you one of their flock that follow them from opportunity to opportunity.
Before joining any opportunity, do some research on who is out there promoting it and their history.
If you see a bunch of marketers with a history of promoting opps that have crashed or been shut down, you’re probably looking at an opportunity that has more sizzle than steak, so to speak. Many of the gurus and leaders in today’s online marketing world simply move from scheme to scheme. When growth slows and attrition starts to hit, they’ve milked their lists for as much as they can, so they just rinse and repeat, hammering their lists with a new “opportunity of a lifetime”.
Where you find these schemes being promoted is also something to take into consideration.
There are a number of forums, traffic exchanges, etc. where almost everything you see is some sort get rich quick, HYIP, ponzi, pyramid, or other type of scam. If the opportunity you are considering is found on sites like this, it’s a pretty solid bet that it won’t be a solid long term income opportunity.
You have to decide for yourself what your criteria will be if you want to earn money ethically.