The question as I sit down to write this is just how much I want to pick this stuff apart.
I’ve already had my tirade about Pulse360. It never ceases to amaze me how legitimate news sites such as FoxNews and MSNBC (yes, you can debate their quality, but they are considered legitimate) continue to use junk-pushing third-party advertising providers such as Pulse360 and AdBlade. Today I’m going to focus on the MSNBC-Pulse360 tandem and a familiar-looking ad block with the same phony, contrived headlines they’ve been dropping on there for years. Today’s specific ad block contained three ads provided to MSNBC by Pulse360 which read:
ALERT: Nevada Drivers!
1 simple trick that can get you insured for only $9 a week. Only zip required.
57-Year-Old Mom Looks 25
Henderson: Local Mom Exposes an Anti-Aging Miracle. Her $5 Trick ERASES Wrinkles!
Mom Turns $97 into $6795
Henderson: Mom spills secret on how she makes $6795/mo part time
These headlines are all I needed to see in order to write them off as complete garbage. The “one trick” and “mom” lines were over-used in the ubiquitous acai ads three years ago. Ads that claim to be from my hometown are also an old trick by such sites. Chances are, they claim to be from your hometown, too.
They aren’t true. They even admit it, but you have to read the fine print. In fact, reading the disclaimer way at the bottom of the page, we read: YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THIS WEBSITE IS ONLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF WHAT MIGHT BE ACHIEVABLE FROM USING THIS/THESE PRODUCTS, AND THAT THE STORY DEPICTED ABOVE IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY.
Clicking the bottom of those three ads, we’re taken to consumerfinancereviews.com, which looks like a big ol’ fake article. Can I prove it’s fake? Sure.
Let’s read the first paragraph, which reads:
Jessica Meyer of Henderson, NV never thought that she would, until curiosity got the best of her and she filled out a simple online form and put out just a little money to try a program she came across. Before she knew it, she discovered her secret to beating the recession, and is now working with some huge companies like DirecTV, NetFlix, and Microsoft all from the comfort of her home!
Now, take a look at nadaesporcasualidad.org which begins:
Have You Ever Considered Working Online? Kelly Richards from Brooklyn, NY never thought that she would, until curiosity got the best of her and she filled out a simple online form. Before she knew it, she discovered her secret to beating the recession, and being able to provide for her family while at home with her three children.
Now take a look at News1Report.com. Same thing. You can Google pieces of this site and find thousands of sites using the exact same language. Why is this? Most of them are affiliate sites, set up using a template. When you get to the part that links you to the product itself, it almost always sends you to a different site – the one for which the affiliate is advertising. In the case of this site, we’re taken to capitalonlinerevenue.com. This site wants a name and email in order to search for availability in my area – which is just a ploy to get my email address. Once I entered a bogus email address, I was sent to a long, rambling one-page sales pitch which is typical of the affiliate marketers – which basically says nothing substantive, and hints at untold thousands of dollars that can easily be made at home for just $97. It seems that the only thing real about this website is the $97 they want from you.
So why the big issue with these site? These sites…
…advertise things that even their website admits to be fictional. (Such as the “Henderson Mom” who doesn’t exist)
…post pictures of checks from people they admit aren’t real – so the checks are obviously not real either.
…use annoying popups when you try to leave.
… post fake comments that are reused on other sides. Notice how all of these comments are dated within a few days of each other? Fake.
These phony affiliate sites will always exist, but their ads have no place on the websites of legitimate news organizations such as MSNBC. Perhaps as long as the money keeps coming in, they’ll turn a blind eye, despite the fact that their own users are being scammed out of money from ads placed on their own site.
An annoying popup on 11/13/2011, courtesy of Pulse360, highlighting their typical phony ads.
Forum discussion from 2010 addressing this exact issue, around the same time Wafflesatnoon began writing about the issue.
Filed under: Scams & Deception