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How To Sniff Out An Internet Scam

Aug 17, 2007
Like any other environment that offers the average individual the opportunity to amass a substantial amount of wealth fairly quickly, the internet not surprisingly is rampant with scams. No doubt the situation today is far better than it was a few years back but that still does not negate the fact that the potential for you to get scammed is relatively high.

Sir Joshua Reynolds once remarked, "there's no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking" an observation which has since proved to be the cornerstone of many a marketer's success as well as that of the average scammer.

How so?

Because people are very willing to part with their hard-earned cash just as long as you furnish them with a short-cut solution that solves their problem. That is why people flock to buy downloadable courses, be they on internet marketing or any other subject!

Meanwhile as things stand, the world of today is one of instant gratification which means that people want what they want right now, not tomorrow, not in several hours, but now!

This current trend of instant gratification is largely driven by the internet which has popularized the concept of instant delivery. It would not be wrong to say that the internet, in essence, has basically revolutionized the way with which we interact with one another and the world at large.

Another reality that the internet has spawned is a bumper crop of internet marketing millionaires; a reality that has proved to be a veritable magnet to a constantly-refreshing harvest of starry-eyed, gonna-be-rich-soon newbie marketers.

But what most of those gonna-be-rich-soon marketing hopefuls are not aware of is that a lot of that online-generated wealth (at least in internet marketing circles) came about through long-established and convincing scams!


In the real world, more often than not, before you invest a significant sum of money purchasing anything, you most likely scout around to see whether that item is any good. And the way most of us go about establishing the credentials of an item we're interested in, is to see what other people have to say about it.

If the vast majority of people have only good things to say about the item then that fact alone is generally more than enough to convince the average person that it indeed is worthwhile to make the purchase.

This pattern of noting what other people are doing/saying before we subscribe to a particular activity or purchase any item is what is known as social evidence (in other words mimicking what others are doing or basing our behavior on theirs).

This principle of social evidence has particular importance on the internet.

This is so because of the fact that the internet is a virtual reality which means that we're restricted to only a few of the senses we regularly use in the real world; which is of particular significance because it is that much harder for us to evaluate and assess anything being sold online

That does not mean we have to take a complete stranger's online claims as the gospel truth though. Don't forget we still have the principal of social evidence to fall back on; which is where the ubiquitous testimonial and screenshot come into play.

Testimonials are a time-tested and proven method of conveying customer appreciation for an item. Screenshots too are regularly used in marketing circles to persuade otherwise skeptical or ambivalent prospects that purchasing the advertised item will undoubtedly improve their financial situation or whatever it is they need.

Unfortunately like many seemingly-genuine product reviews plastered across the internet, far too many testimonials and screenshots are fake! This obviously is done with the intention to convince prospective buyers that they are making the right choice when they buy the item. Such activity is known as manipulating social evidence and is widespread across the web.

To surmise, other than using your common sense, there are some very simple tricks you can readily utilize to determine whether a testimonial/screenshot (and thereby by proxy the item being advertised) is genuine:

1. Check to see if the testimonial has an accompanying URL (the URL does not have to be activated; you can always paste the URL into your browser and get to the site via that means). If none of the testimonials have accompanying URLs pass on the item (such testimonials reek of scam!)

2. If there is an accompanying URL, click through to the web site and evaluate it. If the web site is nothing more than an adsense-template site or looks as if it was slapped together in haste, once again it's probably best to pass.

3. Google the name of the individual supposedly supplying that glowing review (testimonial) and peruse through the resultant listings; quite often if the individual(s) is associated with scams or fraud at least one listing pertaining to that damaging aspect will show up!
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