Since the early days of the Internet I have been fascinated with the prospect of making money online.  From the day I received my first check for display ad revenue generated by my Geocities Nintendo video games review website, I was hooked.  My love for online money making ventures has taken me in all sorts of directions, one obviously resulting in the creation of WhyDoWork.com.  In addition to helping people learn how to make money online, we want to prevent people from losing it; and trust me there are a lot of scams and traps designed to rob you of your hard earned cash.

Get rich quick scams are like fashion trends.  A good scam doesn’t die, it only goes away only to resurface with a new twist. Trendy scams are hyped, mimicked and copied until the market is saturated and people get burned.   The goal of this blog post is to expose scams of the past and show you how to identify scams of the future.   If you see a program or marketing gimmick similar to anything in the list below, don’t be greedy, recognize what it is, and RUN!  Now, without further adieu, here are the top 10 worst make money traps of all time:

1. Guaranteed #1 Google Ranking: On a daily basis I am solicited by people claiming to know the secret to getting my website to a #1 Google search engine position.  The reality is, there are techniques to help you improve your ranking but a secret formula doesn’t exist, and if it did people wouldn’t be selling it to you.  Instead they would focus on putting their own sites into that position and making money for themselves.  Now, #1 Google ranking is just an example, this scheme takes many forms, whether it’s through PR10 and .edu backlinks, guaranteed facebook fans, guaranteed dmoz listing or any sort of magical achievement where no documentation exists on the Internet as to how to duplicate it.  I know it’s easy to want to believe someone can make these things happen for you but they probably can’t.  If you want to learn more about search engine optimization and getting to #1, try visiting Webmaster World.

2. Buy Yourself a Work at Home Job: Send us $49.95 and we’ll send you an out-dated list of home based positions, and a .pdf of employers who hire work at home. You could pay for that, or you could use our services search for work at home jobs free, and search our huge list of employers that hire home based workers (also free). You shouldn’t ever consider paying for a database of work at home jobs, or a list of employers. If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that basic job searching should be free.

3. Guaranteed Sign-Ups / Guaranteed Traffic: Wow, 10,000 visitors to my site for $7.95!  This is the perfect way to grow my online business.  Wrong.  This type of traffic is absolutely nothing but garbage.  I don’t care what type of splash page you think you can create, this traffic doesn’t convert, and it’s just a waste of bandwidth.  As for guaranteed sign-ups, you’ll find the same issue.  The service may deliver the promised number of sign-ups, but don’t expect to be able to ever convert them to do anything.  The users all use fake email addresses, it they are even real at all.  I know its tempting but trust me on this one.

4. PayPal Pyramid Scheme: This scheme has been around long before PayPal and the Internet. I remember this as a kid when I got a chain letter involving mailing money to people on a list.  As soon as PayPal launched, I started seeing the same scheme posted on the Internet; “Send $6 to all the emails on this list, then remove the last persons email address and add yours to the top of the list!”  For some reason whenever I see this scheme it is apparently endorsed by Oprah.  I mean seriously?  Does this sound like a solid business plan?  Why on earth would Oprah endorse such a joke.  Unfortunately we still see people spamming the forums with that nonsense today.

5.1 Pixel Advertising: So one guy came up with a unique idea called the million dollar homepage.  Basically there are a million tiny squares on a website and you get to buy advertising on each square worth $1.  The final page looks like a cluttered mess of garbage.  My eyes start going cross just looking at it.  While this person was successful, the hundreds of copy cat sites were not, and people were buying templates off eBay and buying ads left and right.  I remember arguing with people about how this was nothing more than a fad, but people actually believed this was a future industry!  Thank goodness these things aren’t around now but I’m sure they will resurface soon.  They always do.

5.2 Million Dollar Wiki: The reason I wanted to specifically show the million dollar wiki is because it is an indirect offshoot of the million dollar homepage above.  Pixel programs had come and gone and resurfaced to a brand new audience waiting to be taken advantage of in the million dollar wiki.  Promoted by John Chow and the army of “make money online” bloggers this site generated tons of hype.  Enough at least to cost 1239 people $100 according to the sites homepage.  WhyDoWork.com’s blog warned people about this program but as only one small voice you can only do so much.  It’s important to avoid taking in all your information from a few make money online blogs as they tend to band together and promote programs that are only going to make them (and not you) money.

6. Guru Training Programs: Pay me hundreds a month and learn how I made it. A good example of a recent offering in this area is the Shoe Money System, a $200 a month guru training program.  This is an offshoot of what Yaro Starak did with a similar idea.  If you read the comments to our blog post people are complaining about how ineffective these programs are.  The problem is that these ‘gurus’ caught a break.  While they may be smart and innovative people, they essentially won the lottery.  Their blog, program or idea caught on, and now their success is self perpetuating.  What do any of these people know about starting a business today?  The Internet is changing and competitors fill up and saturate a niche overnight.  An army of people copying an outdated formula for online success is not going to work.

7. HYIP featuring 12DailyPro: If you haven’t heard of the term HYIP (high-yield investment program)  I encourage you to read up on it in Wikipedia.  Now I know some people feel they are educated on HYIPs and are ok playing the game as they understand the risks involved.  The way I look at it, it is like joining a cult and hoping to get out before drinking the kool aid.  Profiting from these programs is only as a result of the misfortune of others.  The key to identifying these pyramid schemes is to find recruitment programs where the program provides no real product, other than the chance to earn profit based on new member subscription fees.  For 12DailyPro it was masked inside a paid to surf program, in others e-books are commonly used.  Once these pyramids become so wide they cannot sustain future growth, members pull out and the pyramid collapses leaving the stragglers with empty pockets.  These programs never die, and the number of people that get caught up in them is horrendous.  Greed. Greed. Greed.  Stay away.

8. Easy Google Profits: This was a huge Internet phenomenon over the last several months and actually one of the most popular searched keywords bringing traffic to WhyDoWork.com.  If you use Facebook, you would have seen many of your friends infected with a virus which promoted a site, which in turn was actually promoting Easy Google Profits.  Google has recently forced this program to be shut down and I haven’t heard much of it in months.  The program claimed that if you paid Google money, they would pay you to post ads.  Obviously this was a huge lie, and this program was simply a short guide on how to advertise affiliate programs via Google AdWords.  Here is my general tip;  if a program sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you do a lot of due diligence before signing up and paying money.  Be pessimistic in your outlook on *easy* ways to get rich.

9. Spamming: Yes, advertising is expensive.  Yes, its cheaper to buy an opt in email list and blast out 10,000,000 emails in hopes of a .0001% response rate.   On the surface these things seem cheaper, but not only will it result in zero sales, it’s also a sure way to get a bad name for yourself, not to mention the bad karma you create.  There are ways to promote a product without spamming.  Want people to have a look at your program?  Try adding it to the WhyDoWork.com Reviews section or similar service.  You don’t like getting spammed, don’t do it to others.

shoemoney-vs-johnchow.jpg10. Make Money Online with a Make Money Online Blog?: Just because John Chow is an Internet millionaire doesn’t mean you are going to be by copying what he has done.  These blogs are just a means of pushing products that cost you money and make these guys wealthier.   Don’t get caught up in the hype of the products that are pushed on these blogs.  Negative thoughts are often removed from their comment list leaving a very skewed version of reality.  I’ve had a few comments deleted back when these guys were pushing the million dollar wiki.  Now, I’m not saying you can’t start your own blog, but you need to be unique and innovative if you want to succeed.  Read blogs, forums, and come up with your own ideas.  If someone is pushing a product, do some research first and try not to believe the hype.

Know of other scams, traps or programs that have sucked people in and taken their money?  Please leave a comment in the blog, so we can help each other from reproducing the same mistakes..

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