The day before yesterday an affiliate (who runs a review website) posted the following comment under my 2009 What Is Cookie Stuffing post:
also the day before yesterday the industry’s famous fraud detective Kellie Stevens wrote up an article that has, undoubtedly, become a sobering one for many. Two years after being indicted for cookie stuffing (which resulted in eBay paying the violators over $20 million in affiliate commissions) Shawn “Hogan has pled guilty to one count of wire fraud” and is now awaiting sentencing which “is scheduled for February 11, 2013.” [see Kellie's full article here]
In their Criminal Law textbook Thomas J. Gardner and Terry M. Anderson give a good concise explanation of what exactly “wire fraud” is defining it as:
A fraudulent scheme that uses interstate or international wire or other electronic communications. (p. 484)
The United States Code elaborates:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. (18 USC Sec. 1343)
Yes, cookie stuffing is a very serious criminal offense. If you, as an affiliate, are already engaged in it, or just thinking of doing it (like the author of the above-quoted comment), think again! It isn’t worth it.