Affiliate Marketing Scam

Affiliate marketing is a very popular way for people to make money from their websites.  Most websites that charge membership fees have affiliate marketing programs whereby they pay others for driving traffic to their sites. Usually the affiliate will receive  a certain percentage of the money spent by each person that signs up for a service or buys a product that was referred by the affiliate site.  For example, Amazon has a huge affiliate program where it will share revenue with affiliates that drive traffic to Amazon that results in a sale.

Affiliate marketing is very widespread in the online adult entertainment industry. Just about every adult website has an affiliate program and it is not uncommon for scammers to look for ways to take advantage of these programs in a effort to make quick money, even if it means committing fraud to do it.  I was recently informed by a large payment gateway operator of an affiliate scam that is is currently in operation in the adult arena.  Here is how it works:

First, the scammers establish affiliate relationships with legitimate websites that have generous affiliate payouts.  Then the scammers create a website of their own with teaser content that is likely to generate interest.  The site requires a fee of X dollars for full access to the site, which in actuality has little or no content.  Of course viewers won’t discover this until after they have signed up for the site and provided the scammers with their credit card information.  The scammers then take that credit card information and use it to sign up with one of the websites with which they have an affiliate relationship. The scammers will then collect the affiliate payout from their affiliate partner sites.

Based on the information I have received, the elements listed below have been associated with this latest scam:

Additionally, it seems that a payment gateway operating out of Germany called is associated with this scam and is injecting the harvested details directly into payment pages of merchants.  I would advise all merchants with affiliate programs to search their databases for any of the above information and to scrutinize traffic coming from the gateway.  Currently this scam is focusing on those merchants in the adult space, but it is likely that this will spread to other markets with big affiliate programs as well.

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