How To Smell A Scam

We all know that there are scams running around online. The question is how do you spot one? Well I’ve come up with a guide on how you can. For this, I’ve decided to use this salesletter (screenshot below) as an example.

[Disclaimer!] Now I’m not saying that this example is a sure scam because I didn’t buy the product and maybe the product is as good as the author claims. I don’t know.

What I’m saying� is that I’m going to share my personal experience and opinion as I went through the salesletter. And my opinion is those people who buy this are going to sorely disappointed.

Again, these are� guidelines (and really.. a lot of it is common sense). There may be some really reputable websites out there that make these mistakes, so� don’t fret about that.

But you can be sure that if a site makes a whole bunch, it probably smells bad. I won’t be revealing the domain name for said site, so with that let’s begin:

1. Overall Bad Design

Take a look:

The whole site just doesn’t look like it was done professionally and� the copywriting is riddled with pictures all over. A experienced marketer would know that copywriting is best without pictures distracting the reader from the message. Take a look:

No-use images all over! Overall the whole thing just doesn’t look like what a solid salesletter should look. Like having a spiffy banner on top (not a must though), “headline’ in red, a sub headline, good fonts, etc, etc so on and so forth.

Now having a bad design per se doesn’t neccessarily mean that a website is a scam. Some of Yanik Silver’s salesletters aren’t exactly pretty but we all know he’s the real deal. But most of the time, good basic design and solid copywriting are signs are of someone who knows what he’s doing. Like this:

Solid design, graphics, headline� and copy. This is the real deal.


2. Fake Clickbank Screenshots

Take a look:

How do I know it’s fake? Take a look at my real Clickbank screenshots I have on my previous blog entries and compare them. The difference is obvious.

In this example, the Clickbank stat bars are the wrong colour, the font is different and� Clickbank pay periods should� end on the 16th and on the 1st. Not 31 or 30. Also it should read Daily Sales Subtotals and not Daily Sales Subtotal. Ditto for Period Sales Subtotals.

What’s more he doesn’t blur out his clickbank id. Most maketers do that for privacy purposes and you should too. The clickbank banner on top also looks dodgy.

Anyway to fake your earnings is really, really bad.

3. Doctored Clickbank Cheques

More lies. take a look:

Again, take a look at my cheque� I posted on my previous blog post and compare it. Looks almost similar but the giveaway is that the name, dollar wording and� date are on different white backgrounds as compared to the cheque.

And for the dollar amount, the font is too big and it’s missing the *** in front of the numbers as well.

Also this is very, very� subtle. Notice that the dollar amount is $13,845.00 . So what?

How often do your Clickbank earnings end EXACTLY at xxxx.00? Highly highly improbable. Usually you will earn xxxx.26 or xxxx.74 . Something like that. You should be earning some cents if I can put it that way.

To fake cheques as well? My, my this is starting to smell fishy.

And oh yeah… If you notice that my cheque has no address on it, it’s because I covered it for privacy purposes.

Let’s continue…

4. Poor Alexa Ranking

I have the Alexa toolbar on my web browser and it measures the traffic rank of a website. Take a look at the rank on this site.

For this site, it ranks at 1,170,697. Which means that its the 1,170,697th most trafficked site on the net. Yahoo is no. 1, no. 2 and Google no. 3� . So this means the lower your rank, the more traffic you get.

So why an Alexa rank of 1,170,697 is fishy to me?

Because if what he claims ($400-800 a day) is true, then he should know his way around on the net. But the poor traffic rank for this site just tells me that he doesn’t. Because if he really does know his stuff (like traffic generation)� and this website sells a really good product, then by right the traffic on this site should be higher. But it isn’t. So another red flag for me.

For your info, some of my ‘failure’ sites which I don’t even touch now, even rank better than this. And SSMM is already around 116,000+. And I’m not exactly a master at driving traffic yet.

I would have to highlight though that some good reputable sites have a lousy Alexa rank because they’re new. Case in point is Ewen Chia’s Super Affliate Cloning Program which is less than a month old� and has a rank of 6 million over. But we all know he’s one of the best marketers out there.

5. Stock Photos

He says he the internet has brought him these great goodies:

The problem is that all these photos are stock photos.� Stock photos are photos which are taken previously and� that can be purchased for agreed-upon usage. Usually advertising agencies buy them to use the photos for their projects and stuff. In this case, he probably copied and pasted them from the web.

Anyway, if you want to prove that you own all these, you would take a photo with you standing beside your car, house,� etc. But he doesn’t own them, you see, so he can’t.

6. Web Counter

Omigod! He has a teenage web counter!

Now is this really amateur or what? No professional marketer would ever ever put something so amateur on his salesletter!

Web counters are for teenage girls who just started their own personal blog and want to use it to see if their blog gets more hits than their rivals so they can prove they are more popular or whatever.

Anyway, big and silly red flag for me.

7. No Contact Info

Notice that you have no way to contact the owner of this website. No address, number, email or contact form. Nothing.

A real business or marketer would list their contact details because it creates trust. Also they know that some potential customers may have some questions answered before they buy and they would want to help answer those queries. I get emails all day for SSMM.

Would you trust a business which doesn’t want you to contact them? I don’t think so. Sniff* Smells like fish around here…

8. No Opt-in box

Now at first, not having an opt-in box may seem like an amateur thing to do. Fo example, Stephen Pierce didn’t have an opt-in box on his rapid swing fire trading site in the early days (he has now) because he just didn’t realise he needed one.

All real marketers will have an opt-in box. It’s a MUST. Without a list or targeted clients, you have no business. You know what Ewen Chia told me was his biggest asset? His list. If you aren’t building a list, then forget about internet marketing.

In this case though, it’s because the owner of this site doesn’t want to contact you. He doesn’t plan to follow up. All he wants is you to buy his stuff and then piss off.

The only redeeming thing is that this product is sold through Clickbank so you can get you a refund through them (within 8 weeks). Clickbank has this sort of protection for consumers. So you can feel safe getting your products through them.

So let’s wrap things up….



Convinced? I am.

You see, some of the things I mentioned above may have been purely honest amateur mistakes like not having an opt-in box, adding a web counter, bad design, not having contact info,� etc. A marketer selling online for the first time� may make those sort of mistakes.

But to fake the Clickbank earnings and the cheque is a serious LIE. Now that’s a serious integrity breach and� that to me� is a� BIG, BIG red flag.

I have no idea how Clickbank approved this product, so maybe it’s for real. But I’m sure not gonna part with my money to find out.

And if you’re ‘Charles P Goodman’… I’m really sorry, but you’re busted.



23 Comments so far

  1. Bernard on August 27th, 2006

    Hi Adam
    These are great tips. I have seen many of such stuff many look dodgy to me. I do not know the specifics, but it reads and ‘feels’ fake many times.

    As they say, on the net, no one know who you really are!

  2. Michael Koh on August 28th, 2006

    Hey, i know where you got this picture from.hahhaa

    Anyway, indeed they looks not professional.
    But faking the statements really looks bad on them!

    Great job identify that!

    Btw, congrats to your big checks.

    Chat again

  3. Kiat Haw on August 28th, 2006

    Wooot~! Brilliant stuff…maybe you could publish a book on it…

  4. Stella on August 28th, 2006

    Hi Adam!

    Glad you pointed this “scam” out. Especially it was an ad with its link in your blog (or was it Adam Khoo’s blog). Really give readers a bad association and impression to what you are doing in your business.

    Good job, Adam! Really impressed that you have done such a thorough work exposing the scam!

    Cheers, Stella

  5. taymastery on August 30th, 2006

    Jesus Christ!

    I think I came upon this same Ad on Friendster

    Guess what? The scammer used Michael Dell’s potrait as a cover-up! Holy Christ what in the World has happened?! ~~


  6. Amy on September 2nd, 2006

    Cool, this is a good one. I also know where you get that image from. Its good that you pointed this out, because at that point of time, I actually browse through them. And I begin to wonder will they have stuff as good as Adam Khoo. However, somehow I never dwell further because I too find it appear fake. Although the fanciful pictures I thought is supposed to attract attention. Anyway, Photoshop can make one person appear in an image of a luxury car or so.

  7. Jaz on September 5th, 2006

    Well Said Adam.
    But the sad part is, newbies always get suck by all these quick money scheme.

  8. GREAT JOBB!!!! on September 6th, 2006

    Thank you for exposing the fakes for what they really are, *%*#(%!. Thank you once again.

  9. Leonard on September 12th, 2006

    By the way, you forgot to mention one thing although you did highlight it’s fake. Just so your readers know. The format of the date. Legit cheques from clickbank or US for the matter would have the date format as month first followed by day and then year – 09/12/06 – and not day followed by month and year – 12/09/06. By the way, nice journal on your journey to wealth.

    Adam says:
    Thank you! And yes, great job for catching that!

  10. Dating Specialist on November 7th, 2006

    The black sheeps. They must be hating your guts now. Ha! Thanks for the useful info Adam. :)

  11. TOFUmonkey on November 10th, 2006

    hey adam,

    great job! sometimes, go with the gut feeling,
    if it’s too good to be true, it most prob is.


  12. laksa on July 19th, 2008

    thanks. most enlightening. you are totally right

  13. Wayne Tully on August 7th, 2008

    I agree with all that has to be said about dodgy fake screenshots of this and that all the time, sometimes the money is all that some are interested in, rather than building up a credible business with long term profits you are setting yourself up for a fall early on with fake screen shots…..So time for charlie to go by another name!

  14. Tony on February 7th, 2009

    WOW, there is a real minefield of ‘stuff’ out there that is (at least SOME of it) so convincing (to some people who will sadly gobble it up)
    I must admit some of them are very tempting and they try so hard with all the ‘testimonials’.

    Another test is to check out the websites of the people who write ‘rave’ comments – I’ve found many sites 404 and dead!!!
    I think Marlon Sanders is a classic and he’s going GREAT GUNS at the moment! with his ‘Amazing Formulas’ and everything else. I did try his Dashboard concept with website and business building but was SO DISAPPOINTED to be given an out of date html “1st Page” software (that I tried YEARS ago, and the company went out of buisiness!) tutorials on PhotoShop or Elements which I have no intention of buying.
    Thankfully they gave me a refund…
    Sorry to rant ;.)
    Best wishes
    P.S. check out my photo website – no scam there!!!

  15. James on February 24th, 2009

    Why not enter query Wymoo International by typing its name and press enter or click search and check with the Wymoo International investigators and to fork out a small fee to query first whether such and such affiliate program is worth joining rather than to lose a few hundreds or thousands of dollars to scams? Victims can also contact them if money-back-guarantee is not honoured. Unsolved complaints years back can be open for further investigations just as in unsolved murder cases. Just check with Wymoo Intl lah!

  16. huns on February 24th, 2009

    Really really helpful for the people who just want to jump into the online business! Thanks for your blog!

  17. Dianne Kneller on March 3rd, 2009

    Hi Adam, :) Got sent to your blog by Adam Khoo!

    Congrats’ on your book, love your candour and have been reading more posts, for the last hour or so …. oops!

    Nice to see the scammers getting busted!!
    And where were you about three years ago…??
    Could have saved a small fortune.. LOL

    Still got some great tips though..
    Thanks & all the best..
    Dianne in NZ :)

  18. Adam Wong on March 3rd, 2009

    Hey Dianne,

    Thank you! Glad you enjoy the stuff I put out. :)


  19. Derrick on April 29th, 2010

    Great post. But isn’t it ironic that beside your post there’s a dodgy ad with a stock photo that says make an extra $100,000 from home? haha. Cheers man.

  20. Mon on May 18th, 2010

    Nice research, I’m coming from with an article that justifies Ewen Chia.

    Upon checking today, it doesn’t seem to exist anymore and the publisher of seem to think that you’re actually referring to

    It’s just sad that people have the face to fabricate proofs just to outsell people and it’s a shame to be making money out of other people’s demiss :(

    Sometimes it’s just that people looking into making some money online wants it fast and so falls prey from the GRQ artists.

    If they’d only take much time to learn more.

  21. […] good blog that goes into detail about this is by Adam Wong, he tells it better than I […]

  22. Gabe on October 13th, 2010

    hi Adam! very nice article, that’s pretty helpful, and btw I also found this article via this website and it’s curious how this blogger hints that Ewen Chia may be a scammer based on your article, something that doesn’t seem the case, but I would like to know your opinion on that matter.
    Thank you again! :)

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