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Ryan

I was flogged.

The google work from home got me for $1.97
I went into my profile and it now does not let me.

It's coming from http://freeblogkit.com
They are the one's who charge the card, I have luckily not been charged again...

I need to make sure they don't charge it...I guess if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is...

However, I did follow some bloggers who are excited about this "biz opportunity" and supposedly have made money! But it sounds like only by ripping people off!

Anyway, great blog and I hope someone can send me some info on how to not keep getting ripped off and how to fight this.
Please contact me on twitter @RyanWCarlson

Thanks!
Ryan

Raief

Good post.

Now with the new FTC guidelines it will be easier for the scam flogs to be fined and prosecuted. If they publish testimonials and earnings claims they will have to be able to offer corroborative proof from members.

The Earnings and Income Disclaimers that they post will not negate the claims made on the flogs or the splash pages.

I have seen two versions this week that have shortened their trial periods from 7 days to 1 and 3 days. If a subscriber does not cancel within these time frames they will be automatically be charged the monthly fees that are buried in their Terms and Conditions.

Here is one of these active scam sites: news3insider.com/finance/google-hiring-you.html.

Note that some of the wording contained on the flog:

"Google has now officially released their new "work from home" system out to the public. There will be thousand of spots available that are expected to go very soon in the next few days.

The way this works is very simple, Google says.

First you will need to apply for their work from home kits. Google has release a limited amount of kits, all distributed through local websites in your area, which will cost $2 of shipping and handling to the public."

This is pure out and out fraud. Google does not sell any kits.

The guidelines go into effect in December, but the FTC is making note of scam sites that are continuing with these false assertions and claims.

jl

These types of promotions are now also shifting to using fake answer sites to trick people as well.

http://www.answerbankpro.com/health/diet-and-fitness/advice-needed-on-acai-berry-colon-cleanse-diet/

Finch

Hey dude

Awesome post. I've linked to you from my site: http://finchsells.com/2009/06/04/to-flog-or-not-to-flog/

Personally, I think the flog can be a good method of promotion for just about anything - it doesn't have to be the scammy trial offers that give it a bad rep. But, of course, there are people who will continue to abuse the concept and push it in to false advertising waters.

Anyway, excellent blog.


Noah Robinson

Bring on the regulators.

I'm surprised that Ben Edelman hasn't been all over this.

Herbert Gordon

Hi Jay,

This was a very interesting post. I had never heard of the term flog before reading your blog and so I leaned some very valuable information.

My sister as a matter of fact was taken for $150.00 from a company promoting [flogvertiser} a new teeth whitener. She could try it (sample)and just pay shipping cost of $2.95. She ordered it and two months later she found out they had charged her credit card $170.00 for the continued use of the product. She was furious.

I called the people involved. They were located in India somewhere and after almost an hour of being bounced around from assistant to supervisor to supervisors manager to being disconnected and having to call back then speaking to a manager then a regional director, etc., who all tried to explain that it said in the ad she had 30 days to cancel he the regional director finally agreed to give back a partial payment of $60.00.

But what was also unbelieveable to me was the regional director was willing to allow my sister to keep her subscription of the product for only $20.00 per mo. The same product that they had billed her $85.00 per month for. Go figure that one out.

After reading this article I realize I have seen these flogs or flogvertisers all over and at least somewhere every day. I just didn't know that's what they were.

Anyway, folks those Teeth Whitener Ads are also Flogs.

I'm gonna call my sister today and tell her she was FLOGGED. LOL.

Thanks for a great article and I do mean Great Article.

Paul Schlegel

I've been tracking the flogs for fake grant offers and "make money posting links on Google" sites for about 4 months now. I'm up to over 1000 and I typically find 10 to 20 new ones every day, so I don't really see the flogs in that market falling off.

One of the big problems I see is that the affiliate networks typically are not made the target of prosecutions - and they are the ones who are the biggest means of getting the hidden negative option offers promoted by the flogs distributed. Second-best to go after would be the affiliates themselves.

But of course, it's the companies that own the offers that are typically the sole objects of Federal and State charges.

There seem to be two problems there:

1) I've been told that the FTC sometimes gives a company a "clean up" period (I haven't verified that). If that's true, then it's simple enough for someone to "comply" through their existing company, while setting up a totally different company with different officers and set up a new deceptive offer. I've certainly seen that happen on several occasions.

2) By not going after the networks, the affiliate networks have no incentive to NOT run the offers as those offers are huge money makers for them.

There are also much better ways to estimate the impact to consumers than just looking at the number of complaints coming through the various complaint systems such as IC3, FTC, etc.

Those numbers are traditionally low and they can't be extrapolated to a larger number, because they aren't based on a true random sample.

Meanwhile, sites like Compete, Quantcast, and now even Alexa it seems have become more accurate in their traffic estimates.

So it's a simple matter to acquire or estimate conversion rates on an offer and estimate retention rates conservatively to come up with some often staggering numbers regarding cost to consumers.

John Henderson

Personally, I hate flogs with a passion... Granted I understand why they are set up the way that they are, but the lack of "ethics" is astounding. I know that almost every ad can toe the line of what is right and wrong, but every one of these flogs, are just blatent lies.

As somone who has created a simple standard for personal ethics (very minimal, don't lie, don't cheat people out of money) I can tolerate quite a bit without even flinching.

But these are just crazy. When I say my first one, I thought to myself: "please don't become a standard" and I am extremely glad that there has been backlash against them.

The baseline for being successful shouldn't just be who can lie the best with the prettiest pictures.

PS. I just stumbled upon this blog very recently and I love it. Thanks for some amazing stuff

Mark R

My main issues with flogs, or more so the companies that allow flogs (such as Google and ValueClick) is the fact that the same company is allowed to create hundreds of fake companies and as a publisher you need to continually check and ban them every day if you don't want them to appear on your website.

For example, in the past if I saw an ad on my website I would ban it Google Adsense, and ValueClick and ask to exclude all future ads from that company. It was easy and I was able to ensure that my users did not fall victim to any ads which I considered to be scams. Now, every day the same company sets up new accounts with Google and ValueClick and I need to check every day to ban them. This should not be tolerated in any way by Google or ValueClick and the fact that they allow this has completely changed my view of both companies.

John DeMayo

Well said. A few notes:

The flog's increase in (initial/ad) CTR are often due to false/misleading claims, that the advertiser can't make directly (by definition of false/misleading).

Increase on CVR/landing page is often much greater then you reference (via false/misleading claims, and the added pre-qualification almost any intermediary page creates).

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Thanks, John!

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