What is Affiliate Fraud and Ways to Avoid It

The Social Proxy
5 min readMar 15, 2024

Affiliate marketing is when other websites help promote a company’s products or services and get a share of the sales or web traffic they bring in. It’s an important part of digital marketing nowadays.

Businesses like affiliate marketing because it’s cost-effective and helps them achieve their marketing goals. It’s also a way for people promoting the products (affiliates) to earn money with little operational effort. To make money in affiliate marketing, affiliates must have a website or platform with an audience and keep up with what’s happening in the affiliate marketing world.

It’s a good strategy for businesses to earn extra money because affiliates promote their stuff and get paid for each new customer they bring in. The more customers they bring, the more they get paid, so they’re motivated to keep promoting the products. It’s like getting recommendations from friends that lead to more sales.

Types of Affiliate

Affiliate marketing falls into three categories: unattached, related, and involved. Each category has its methods for promoting products and making more sales.

Unattached Affiliates

These affiliates don’t have firsthand experience with the product they’re promoting. They use paid advertising methods like pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to attract visitors. They might not fully understand the product or its audience, but they can reach a wide audience through their ads.

Related Affiliates

Related affiliates have some connection to the product category they promote but may not have used the specific product themselves. They could be bloggers or website owners who write about relevant topics and endorse products that match their content and audience. Although they lack personal experience, they can still offer useful information to potential customers.

Involved Affiliates

They know the product they’re promoting firsthand and genuinely endorse it to their audience. They might be bloggers who have reviewed the product, YouTubers who have made demonstration videos, or social media influencers who regularly use the product. Their personal experience builds trust and credibility with their audience, potentially leading to higher sales.

What is Affiliate Fraud

Affiliate fraud happens when affiliates cheat by sending fake leads or breaking the rules of their agreement just to get paid. This could be by pretending they followed the rules or using shady methods to get people to visit the site.

People say that the dishonest side of affiliate marketing is taking an exit, but it’s not enough to just say it. To build trust with businesses and other partners, we need to admit there’s a problem and actively work to find and stop fraud.

Types of Affiliate Fraud

Affiliate fraud involves various deceitful tactics aimed at stealing commissions from businesses. Here are some of the most common forms of affiliate fraud:

Cookie Stuffing

Dishonest affiliates place cookies on users’ computers without their consent. If those users later make purchases from the merchant, even unrelated to the affiliate’s link, the affiliate tries to claim the commission. This leads to businesses paying for conversions that didn’t truly originate from the affiliate.

Click Fraud

Affiliates use bots or click farms (groups of low-paid individuals) to generate fake or exaggerated clicks on their affiliate links. As a result, businesses end up paying for clicks that don’t genuinely express interest in their product.

Typosquatting (URL Hijacking)

Affiliates buy domain names closely resembling popular websites, hoping to benefit from users mistyping URLs. They redirect the traffic to their affiliate links, causing businesses to lose traffic and potential sales while the fraudulent affiliate earns undeserved commissions.

Content Scraping

Fraudulent affiliates steal content from other affiliates or the merchant’s website and repost it on their own sites to appear legitimate and drive traffic. Legitimate affiliates lose commissions, and their search engine rankings suffer due to the theft.

Adware and Spyware

Malicious software forcefully inserts affiliate codes into user browsers, hijacking potential revenue. Businesses have no control over where their affiliate links are displayed, leading to false commission payouts.

Fake or Misleading Reviews

Fraudulent affiliates write positive reviews for products or services they may have never used or unfairly tarnish a competitor’s reputation. These artificial reviews manipulate consumer trust, damaging both businesses and the reputations of legitimate affiliates.

Prevent Affiliate Fraud Using These Methods

Affiliate Screening

Before approving potential affiliates, it’s important to conduct background checks and thoroughly evaluate them. This involves examining their website, social media presence, and promotional methods.

Establishing clear guidelines and expectations for affiliates’ conduct is crucial. This should include prohibiting fraudulent or unethical practices in your affiliate terms and conditions. By setting these standards upfront, you can help ensure that your affiliate program maintains integrity and trustworthiness.

Monitoring and Analysis

Use tools to analyze traffic sources, conversion rates, and any suspicious increases in activity. Keep an eye out for unusual patterns, such as excessively high click-through rates or traffic from questionable sources, which could signal fraud.

Monitor the IP addresses linked to affiliate activities. Be vigilant for a large volume of conversions originating from a single IP address or IP addresses from countries with a high risk of fraudulent behavior. This proactive approach helps identify potential fraudulent activities and protects your affiliate program from exploitation.

Using Proxies

Companies can use residential proxies to access websites from different geographic locations. This allows them to examine suspicious affiliates by viewing the website as a user would in that region.

Businesses can analyze traffic patterns through requests from various IP addresses across different locations by employing a pool of residential proxies. This aids in identifying and sorting bot traffic generated by fraudulent affiliates.

When affiliates assert that they promote products in particular locations, companies can employ residential proxies from those areas to authenticate their claims.

Wrapping Up

Stopping affiliate fraud helps businesses in many ways. It stops them from losing money by preventing fake commissions and makes sure they use their resources wisely.

It keeps businesses’ reputations safe by stopping actions that break trust and makes customers feel good about businesses that play fair. It makes sure affiliate programs are fair for everyone involved and builds stronger partnerships.

Stopping fraud also gives them good data to make smart decisions, which helps them grow and work better. This lets businesses concentrate on planning for the future and being successful in the long run.



The Social Proxy

High-Quality 5G & 4G Mobile Private Proxies in the USA (New York & Texas), United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, and Israel.