Linkshare scam?

link-shareIs linkshare a scam?

Well not wishing to stir it up, but I’m a bit suspicious. I’m using WordPress 2.8.1. I’m also using the All in One SEO and Ultimate GA plugins to track my pages.

What I’ve also been doing, is trying a little test using a page linking method that guarantees ‘their’ landing page is the only thing displayed (maybe I’ll show you how to do that in another article)

I know that I have had a certain number of visitors that have gone to their page – and extraordinarily it doesn’t match up to theirs, in fact the numbers fall far short… Could it be some bad programming on their part? A delay in the stats update? No chance…

The point I’m musing over is that URL masking (faking the true Internet address) is done all the time – HTTPS connections cannot be faked easily. A ‘page redirect’  or <IFRAME> are used all the time and although considered bad practise are widely in use on the net. An IFRAME is used so that the users browsers address bar displays one URL, but the contents from another (possibly rogue) website is actually displayed.

If one has a Linkshare account, before one can get paid they need all my TAX information (If you’re a UK affiliate individual or company you should select the option W-8BEN and then tick the box at the bottom). This is indeed interesting, because it reminds me a lot of a ‘phishing scam’ which is a rogue marketing that is purely out to harvest as much valid information about anyone as it can. Most notably I clicked through the ‘irs.com’ link (I didn’t make a link from this site for a good reason I’ll explain later).

I’m probably completely wrong, but I just couldn’t help but take notice.

When I saw the irs.gov website I remember being struck by how unprofessional the graphics looked (no offense to to web designer here) but I do remember noticing it.

Then I noticed looking at the layout, it’s mind boggling, a whole load of menus with just TAX codes and a request for Social Security numbers – this is wrong. It looks like Mr. TAX has come to bite your nuts off. It’s a real ‘Accountants Revenge’ type website and it simply looks the most unwieldy website I’ve seen in a long time (if ever). I took notice of this as well.

It’s very easy to loose ones train of thought when surfing – click trough’s can become all but automatic and we act purely on whim (which we all do really, it’s an act of discipline to remain focused when surfing the web).

I’m not saying anything is necessarily up here. I just wanted to make a note to myself mainly.

It’s just URL masking to affiliate sales network and having quite a difference percentage wise in the number of visits – which just can not be. It’s this difference that made me look closer, they say if you want to get paid you need to fill out super complicated American form XYZ-Omega.

If you need help completing this form ‘click here’ (which every one would do, because no one could ever know what all those numbers mean) and being an ‘affiliate network’ they’re probably referring you to one of their own affiliates – lol.

I’m not wanting to draw any conclusions here, but to anyone else that uses WordPress, or rather Advertises with Linkshare whould be so kind enough to share your thoughts on this?

UPDATE

Having looked into this issue further I ‘did a google’ for “Linkshare scam” and found an interesting article here:

http://www.vodahost.com/vodatalk/ebusiness-concept-development-talk/2688-online-affiliate-scams-revealed.html

I think I’ve been either correct or just lucky in having my suspicions.

So, there are honest affiliate programs, but are we to believe everything we read? The Internet is the old American Wild-West, you need to keep sharp, you need to be able to think at these guy’s level.***

UPDATE

I have just had a chat with Darren Newmark of LinkShare.com. Linkshare are obviously concerned to maintain their good reputation and in no way is it my intention to give a good company a bad reputation. However I had a phone call – that’s right and phone call the day after I first wrote this post – Why? Because I’d somehow managed to get a very high ranking in Google for this post (about the top three) and either someone at Linkshare is constantly surfing for inpropriety or scandelous remarks that might sully their good name – or one of their servers had flagged an alert. Anyway I had received a phone call and within a few hours my post had vanished from the google index. That’s right, not marked down, not gone to page 2 or 3 – I mean literally vanished, *gone*. This might sound like some sort of conspiracy theory, but ladies and gentlemen these are the facts.

It does however seem to of transpired that some of the advertisers using Linkshare as a source to market their products do not pay their bills. They, like all advertisers, who do not pay their commisions to affiliates will be dropped by linkshare on the spot (which is very nice to hear). So it would be fair to say that the blame for non payment to affiliates does not rest with Linkshare but rather the product vendors. It does however leave a slightly bad taste in ones mouth.

So I would say to any would-be affiliate to be a little cautious which products you choose to advertise and to make sure you only deal with reputable companies and products.

Also the URL http://irs.gov is the correct and valid address for the US TAX office – I guess whoever designed their website (or was told to do it that way) really do hate their visitors and want to make their site as unfriendly and daunting as possible to use – go figure…
[END]

I’d like to tell you a little more about myself. I used to be a video games programmer and was for 16 years. I also repair computers and laptops that have been infected with viruses and configure server networks for small local businesses and even some multi-national companies.

UPDATE

Yet again I have had to edit this post. I looks as though (now after several months) I’m back in the Google index – but obviously more carefully placed…

I also however would now like to disclose the fact that last year I was working for McAfee. (2008) on a project they setup around the world called ‘super-spam me’. I was my job to find and expose online scams. Open myself to viruses (to which I was given a free laptop) and explore the underworld of the Internet. The super-spam-me project is based around the format of a TV program called ‘super-size me’.

The McAfee ‘super-spam me’ project consisted of 50 people being selected from around the globe from 10 different countries. I was one of the five people selected from the UK. I was set up with a brand new email address set up for me by McAfee and my task was to visit every suspicious website I could come across and reply to every spam in my mail box. It soon got out of hand as you can read in my blog on the McAfee website here:

You can also read an article about me when I was interviewed by ‘The Times Online’ below.

times-online
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article4249602.ece

*UPDATE* The page above has amazingly been removed. This is The Times Online ladies and Gentlemen – that’s right -

The Times.

Fortunately the copy from the original page I had the good sense to paste below – before it was deleted.

<snip>Simon Nichols [should be spelt Simon Nicol (I hate it when the papers do that)], 40, a software developer from Brighton, later found out that the FBI were also on the hunt for the spammers, who used the address as a respectable PO Box required to set up the “premier gold card” website, which offers $5,000 for signing up.Mr Nichols’s unprotected journey around the web, during which he deliberately took risks like seeking out online Viagra, led him to some more bizarre offers. They included a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from the supposedly world-renowned astrologist Bethea Jenner.</snip>You can also read more about my spam/scam exploits to uncover ‘The Dark Side of the Force’ in another UK national newspaper The Daily Mail.
Mail Online interview

Mail Online interview

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1030880/Unprotected-internet-users-received-70-spam-emails-day-month-setting-account.html

My job as a professional software and hardware engineer is to protect my customers computers from crashes and spams and viruses and make sure their data is backed up and secure. However I must also point out that I also think some of my customers themeselves need protecting to.

So I say to you all – TAKE HEED. There is vast marketing potential on the Internet and there are genuine affilaite programs available to join, but remember this – The Internet does not have the policing and physical laws that most of our countries do, it’s the Wild-West out there, it’s a communications revolution but a logistical nightmare.

The freedom of speech has it’s price, do not visit the snake-oil salesman if you can purchase from a reputable company. This rabbit hole goes way deep – I intend to examine this in much greater detail and will report back.


You can read the final report by McAfee of my daily exploits as a book in .pdf format from their website here. http://www.mcafee.com/us/promos/mcafee/spam_diaries. The logical reason why they no not host this blog live is because that blog contained a lot of links to spam driven websites and linking to people like them is a bad idea, so if you’re a webmaster having an ‘affiliate’ linking to some of these guys is a bad idea!

Take care out there boys and girls and remember why the Internet bubble burst – it’s because there was way too much hype and not enough substance, do you honetsly think that a novice computer user can earn $100,000 per month by just placing a few Ads on Google?

Simon.

Footnote:
There’s one well known Internet marketeer who seems to spend his life living in a nice house on a beach in Mexico. Humm, why Mexico? Why not Hawaii? Is wouldn’t have to do with running across the border would it?

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