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Fraudulent affiliates – beware of scammers!


Affiliate marketing is an industry that is particularly vulnerable to fraud. This is because affiliate programmes are constantly on the lookout for new publishers, which means that the requirements for registration are not too high. A fraudulent publisher detected with one affiliate may move to another or re-register with the same affiliate using different data. In this article, we will examine the most common frauds we encounter in affiliation.



Fraud in affiliates

The following frauds are the most common in affiliation:


Affiliate Fraud – this term is used to describe the use of stolen or otherwise illegally acquired data. This can take the form of, among other things, URL hijacking, i.e., the use of mistakes made most frequently by users when entering a website address in their browser's address field. Other fraudulent practices falling into this category are Cookie Stuffing and Cookie Dropping. These involve dropping a cookie to an internet user from a third party that is in no way related to the website they are visiting. Such scams can be aimed at both generating false revenue and hiding files installed without the user's knowledge. Fraudulent affiliates also often engage in content cloning, i.e. duplication of content under several URLs. This can occur within one (internal duplication) or several (external duplication) websites. In the case of the former, the descriptions are copied from one website to another without using the appropriate 301 redirects. As a result, the sub-page is available under several URLs. External duplication, on the other hand, is based on stealing content from other sites. This can involve copying large chunks of text without marking them as a citation, posting unaltered descriptions from the manufacturer's website or publishing identical content on different channels such as a website, blog or social media. Affiliate Fraud can be based on the use of domains with a similar name to gain traffic, the placement of cookies obtained directly from plug-ins without any advertising activity, the creation of similar-looking sites to mislead the user and the appropriation of branded traffic, which is prohibited in affiliate programmes.


Ad Fraud – is advertising fraud and the emission of advertising that does not bring any added value to the advertiser. Its main purpose is to defraud the advertising budget. This category includes Domain Spoofing, i.e. the impersonation of fictitious websites under the publisher's domain name. It can be done, for example, by accidentally installing malware on the user's hardware. This applies adverts to the user's current browsing experience. The scammer bids for advertising space on a site that looks deceptively similar to a premium site by replacing its declared address in the bid request. The prices offered here are extremely favourable, but ultimately the budgets go not to the publisher, but to the scammer. Ad fraud may also involve so-called ad injection. The perpetrators of such scammers offer to unaware users an additional plug-in in the form of a browser toolbar or browser extension, which contains software that publishes its own adverts on websites to generate income for the fraudulent parties. This makes the website load much slower and the content can damage the reputation of both the publisher and the advertiser.


Loan Fraud – this practice consists of fraudulent lending using someone else's data. It is most often carried out by organised groups using the same identity repeatedly across different companies and markets. Once proven, the pattern is repeated here until detected. Frauds of this type are difficult to stop, due to the reliance on authentic data. Loans here can be taken out on one's own data as well as that of family members, a so-called 'dummy', or data obtained from intermediaries, bought or stolen.

Only programmes and platforms?


Contrary to appearances, it is not only affiliate programmes and platforms that can be fraudulent. Sometimes it is the affiliates themselves who are involved in fraudulent activities (more on this later in this article). It is also important to be aware that sometimes actions that are not fraudulent are included in the category of fraud. They do not result from a desire to defraud anyone but are the result of an error. They most often occur when a campaign is set up incorrectly in an affiliate programme.

Typical fraud


A publisher's promotion of low-quality, harmful, scam products may be considered a type of fraud. This will be detected by the public within a short period of time and will result in a loss of trust and damage to reputation. It makes sense to only advertise products or services that you yourself would be willing to pay for and use. Promoting low-quality products also exposes you to affiliate fraud associated with non-payment.



Fraudulent affiliates... how to avoid them?


If you want to avoid affiliate fraud, it is a good idea to only work with trusted affiliate networks. An example is the Click Hub affiliate platform (see below for more information on Click Hub). Another desirable practice is to use the tools and anti-fraud rules available on the market. In addition, users should continuously monitor site activity such as sessions, page views, clicks or transactions. As far as advertising fraud is concerned, it can be prevented by using ad management systems. The anti-fraud tools mentioned above can also help. To avoid ad fraud, it is also possible to use SSP/DSPs with built-in fraud filter technology and to carry out constant monitoring by looking for suspicious activity in CTR, CR and CPC/CPM. And how do you guard against loan fraud? Credit bureau reports that anti-fraud tools and ongoing device monitoring can help.


If you want to protect yourself from the scams described above, take the time to find an honest, legitimate affiliate platform. One platform worth considering is Click Hub. How does this affiliate platform work? Working with it starts with completing a short form on the homepage. The Click Hub affiliation platform then provides the user with access to campaigns from the largest, most popular companies from all over Europe. After that, all you have to do is register with them. What also sets Click Hub affiliates apart is the Affiliate Manager assigned to each user, which is a personal advisor helping to select the best offers and clarifying any doubts.


Internet scams affect many industries. One of these is affiliate marketing. Working in this area can be extremely profitable. However, one must be very careful and watch out for dishonest practices of affiliates. The Click Hub affiliate network is a guarantee of the safety of your activities.