The mThink/Revenue Performance team were kind enough to offer me an outlet for my opinionated self and perhaps also provide a nugget or two of value.  Those who know me understand that I am rarely bashful or quiet, but that said, allow me to bring to you Klein Online.

I’d like to throw some thoughts out there on fraud.

What’s the biggest single threat to us these days?  Al Qaeda?  Libya?  Cuba?  Illegal immigrants?   Nope.
It’s the fraud that is running rampant in the online marketing industry.  There are several causes: there’s a really low barrier to entry for new networks; compliance isn’t as strong as it needs to be;  and perhaps the biggest problem of all is the activities of foreign fraud cells.

These days absolutely anyone can start up a network and begin brokering offers.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my mom could start an affiliate network tomorrow, and it took her four months to hook up her new plug-and-play Dell desktop PC.  This is a problem in itself, but it has a knock-on effect in that the majority of smaller networks offer little added value.

Much of the time they have poor compliance and broker deals that are so far removed from the original source it is impossible to track down the poor quality traffic. So pass along deals at your own risk. but make sure that you treat them the same way as you would as the originating source.

Foreign fraud is an even worse problem.  Fraudsters in India and China have actually begun paying Americans to pose as affiliates. These fraudulent applicants can sound great and well-versed on the phone – only for fraud to start pouring in once their applications are approved (see: Trojan Horse).

Often, we find that fraudulent applicants use false documentation when we ask for references. One favorite is the collegiate special of a fake ID.  Check out this license from a gentleman by the name of Mark Smiley – who resides in the State of South Carlonia.

mark smiley carlonia

I’ve visited most of the 50 states, from New York to California, Vermont to Florida, and Texas to South Dakota – but somehow I missed the state of South Carlonia in my 30-something years of domestic travel.

For all of us interested in the future of the industry, the only way to end these problems and stop wasting our precious resources is to go to the root of the problem and eliminate unsolicited applications.

Keep the garbage out!
Oh, and by the way, I categorically deny that I have ever taken performance marketing enhancing drugs. 🙂