Affiliate Managers, Beware of Impersonators!

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Earlier this morning, as I was going through affiliate applications into one of our clients’ affiliate programs, this one really made me raise an eyebrow:

I’ve known Anita Campbell for years, and have personally been active on her BizSugar.com website/aggregator. And what affiliate manager wouldn’t be happy should a resource like BizSugar apply into their affiliate program? But two things have alerted me:

(i) the affiliate’s “New” status in the “Network Performance” column (I, actually, happen to remember exactly when Anita started her affiliate account, as we were in detailed talks on how to promote some of our clients on her web properties), and

(ii) seeing them classify their website (or BizSugar.com) as an “Internet Service Provider” (which they are clearly not).

So, I’ve reached out to her, and received the following reply (edited to conceal sensitive information):

Hi Geno — that is not us.  In fact, I just checked with [name here], who also manages the CJ account and handles our affiliate ad placements, and he was not aware of [our client name] either.

We have one account, and it’s for both BizSugar and [other websites] under one.  [Client name] is not showing up there as an approved advertiser, and we don’t recall applying for that program.

Sounds like a red flag to me…

Of course, not every affiliate manager will have the luxury of being in personal contact with the owner of the website that is, likely, being impersonated; but this isn’t even necessary! If you anything in an affiliate application raises an “impersonation” red flag for you, first contact the website’s real owner(s) (either via a “Contact Us” page on their website, or by pulling their information from WHOIS database); and if your if your suspicions are justified, then report them also to the affiliate network/platform (unless you’re running an in-house affiliate program).

About Geno Prussakov

CEO & Founder of AM Navigator – an award-winning OPM agency. Founder & Chair of Affiliate Management Days conference. Author of bestselling "A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing" (2007) and "Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day" (2011), speaker, consultant, and affiliate marketing evangelist.

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7 Responses to “Affiliate Managers, Beware of Impersonators!”

  1. Hi Geno, Thanks so much for being alert and catching this! Sadly, we’ve been impersonated before and not every affiliate manager bothers to check. I remember getting a 1099 a few years back from eBay for its affiliate program — yet we’ve never been part of the eBay affiliate program. It put me to a lot of trouble writing letters to eBay and the also to the IRS.

    Always check. In this day and age, unfortunately, you can’t afford NOT to.

    - Anita

    • Wow. What an illustration of the case, Anita. Thanks for sharing it, and glad you were able to sort that one out. This particular impersonator even got your state (in their network profile) right (not too hard to do, based on your publicly available contact info, I guess).

  2. Anil says:

    Have a similar problem to this myself, in addition to people putting all kinds of paid traffic sources as ‘their website’ with bidvertiser being the favourite for some reason.

  3. Well I don’t know Anita Campbell personally but I’ll sure be on the lookout for this.

    My favorites are the ones who list sites like Mashable or Facebook as their sites. Sure.

  4. Zach Shearer says:

    However terrible CJ’s publisher screening process is–does one exist?–they are actually pretty good at responding to inquiries regarding these scammy publishers.

    I’ve flagged a few and received messages from CJ a few days later with a notification that the offending publisher had been removed from the network.

  5. […] sign of fraud.  Here at Small Business Trends a few years ago, we received a false 1099 –and narrowly avoided another fraud situation.  Fraud has been dogging affiliate marketing.  Fraudsters will set up affiliate accounts (from […]

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