Internet Marketing Scams: What’s Hot in 2009

Unbalanced by the recession and trying to recover from falling price points and conversion rates, many Internet marketers are tossing away ethics to pike anything and everything in the hopes of making a few bucks.

Four major themes dominate 2009.

1. Teleseminars/Webinars to Dupe Newbies. Because there is a constant churn of newbies, marketers are using teleseminars/webinars to sell content with dubious value. Typically, this includes methods that might have worked 3-5 years ago online but don’t anymore because (a) the market has changed, and (b) everybody else has fished the same waters (the profits have already been taken by others).

2. Praise Jesus. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being religious. However, there is a problem with finding religion in order to sell your products to someone who really is religious. With all the sincerity of the Farting Preacher, these marketers pitch everything by liberally sprinkling “Jesus,” “God,” “Christian” etc. into their sales pitches for the sole purpose of fleecing the flock. When you see an online marketer doing this, think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

3. Hidden Continuity. The marketer recycles content (i.e. old, obsolete, or of limited value) and offers it to you at an extremely low price in order to capture your credit card. Where’s the profit for all the effort? Hidden in deceptive or nonexistent language in the sales page. The profit is on the back end when you start getting billed monthly for something you didn’t know you agreed to buy. The online marketer is counting on you not to discover the hidden billing for at least 3-4 months so he can make his real money this way. Don’t hold your breath expecting a refund. The continuity was hidden for a purpose. Customer service will also be hidden.

4. Reformed Sinner. A close cousin to the “Praise Jesus” method, the Internet marketer as reformed sinner tells you he screwed up in the past (note there’s no refund for his screwups) but now you can trust him because he’s seen the light and started over with a clean slate. Perhaps that’s true. But before you buy into this pitch, remember the tale of the scorpion and the frog. It has been my experience that by the time most people are in their late 20s, they’ve formed the building blocks of their character. If dishonest at that age, chances are they’ll be equally dishonest when you do business with them 10, 15, or 20 years later.

Note that there are exceptions to the above. But if you had to bet on the outcome of dealing with an Internet marketer, the above provides a pretty good basis for predicting it.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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