How to Stop Being Scammed

Have you ever bought a digital product, whether it be a training program or a tool, because you thought it was THE answer to earning money at home, and you ended up with that sinking feeling in your stomach that it was a BIG mistake?

I’ve done that too many times. Sometimes I’ve gotten my money back. Sometimes not.

There have been times when I spent a LOT of money. And wow, did I feel foolish! Most of those times I did get my money back. Whew!

But even when it was just a few dollars, and I chalked it up to experience, those few dollars here and there add up.

Then there’s the pure frustration of it all… when I would start to think there’s nobody honest out there… they’re all just out to get my money.

Or maybe it’s me. I just can’t do it. Other people can, but I can’t.

Just looking back on the years of spending too much time and too much money, all to try to make ends meet and still stay home with my kids… it’s too much to even think about all at once! Give me some ice cream and let me forget it all!

If you have ever felt that kind of frustration and despair, keep reading. Maybe get yourself some ice cream if you have to, but keep reading.

If you’ve never felt like that, maybe you don’t need to read this. I seriously don’t want to waste your time. You’re probably okay.

If You Want to Know…

Here’s the deal. In order to stop being scammed, you have to understand three things:

1. Understand what scam is.

2. Understand yourself and what makes you fall for it.

3. Understand how to stop falling for it.

What Scam Is

Scam is something that lures you in and then doesn’t deliver.

How does it lure you in? It could be through a promise, or through playing on a fear.

It’s okay to promise something, if you fulfill that promise. And it’s okay to mention a fear, if you provide a real solution.

But the part that makes it scam is that it doesn’t do what it says it will do.

Different Types of Scam

There are five different types of scam that I can think of. Not all of them pertain to offers of digital products online, but they are all forms of online scam.

Claiming to Be Someone They’re Not

An example of this would be an email asking you to wire money to a friend, when it’s really someone impersonating your friend because they hacked your friend’s email account.

Or getting an email that claims to be from a reputable company (but isn’t), asking for your account information.

Or getting a pop-up on your computer screen saying to call support because there is a virus on your computer. When you call, they try to charge you $500 and get you to give them access to your computer so they can “fix” it.

Taking Your Money Without Delivering the Product

One time we needed something to help one of our animals. I don’t even remember now what the problem was. But I saw this great product advertised, from another country, and I ordered it. It never came. It was too hard to try to follow up, so I just gave up and lost the money.

Hype that Doesn’t Live Up to Its Description

The hype might be focused on lifestyle. This is where they imply that you will be on the beach next year, sipping lemonade. Or driving the car of your dreams.

Or it may be focused on results. You’ll have thousands of people visiting your website.

Even though there is probably a disclaimer somewhere, the hype way overpowers the disclaimer. This product is AMAZING… The more you read, the more your heart rate increases. You have to have it! It’s going to solve all your problems!

But you only have 1 hour, 36 minutes, and 43 seconds to decide. You have to put the kids to bed, then get back on the computer quick, and order it before it’s too late!

So you order it. It’s worth the risk. And there’s a money-back guarantee.

Once you get into trying to use it… well, I won’t go into detail here. There could be any number of possible problems, depending on the product.

But it’s not what it was all hyped up to be.

This type of scam is common with digital products.

High Price for Low Value

This can be somewhat subjective — you have to consider what you get for the price, to decide whether it’s overpriced.

There might be a training program that costs “only $3,000.” And you can even pay in three monthly installments!

If the training includes one-on-one coaching, $3,000 may be a good price, if the coaching is good.

If it includes an intensive six-week course, plus updated training modules being added every week for the next five years, plus continual support available, it may be a good price.

If it includes access to everything the owner has ever created or will ever create in the future, it may be a good price.

If you were to make a list of all the training programs out there that cost in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, you would see quite a spectrum in terms of real value. I would say that the ones that are on the low end in terms of value would be on the high end in terms of being called “scams.”

Marketing to People Who Would Not Benefit From It

This is a product that you’re not ready for yet. You don’t know enough yet to be able to benefit from it.

Some may say, “Well, that’s the customer’s responsibility. They should know better.”

But how can a customer know better about what they should already know, if they don’t know what they don’t know?

If you sell a juicer to a two-year-old who wants to make orange juice for his mom, is it his fault if the orange juice doesn’t turn out right because he put whole unpeeled oranges in the juicer?

You should have either made a point of only selling juicers to people over the age of two, or taught him to peel an orange first, or at least told him that the juice won’t turn out very professional if he doesn’t know how to peel an orange yet.

You can’t assume that he already knows that, or say it’s his responsibility if he doesn’t.

I would call it a scam to sell a juicer to a two-year-old.

Understanding Yourself

If you have ever fallen for a scam, it’s important to ask yourself why.

Here are some possible answers. (If you think of others, feel free to put them in the comments below.)

I was gullible.

That’s not all bad, but it is bad. The good side is that you value honesty, expect others to be honest, and are honest yourself. The bad side is that you don’t always discern when someone else isn’t honest.

I was desperate.

This one is very understandable when you know you have to stay home, but still bring in income. The great need can make you so hopeful and unrealistically optimistic that you just believe the hype because it seems like your only lifeline.

I was inexperienced and ignorant.

Like the two-year-old with the juicer.

I once learned all about launching a product. With that wonderful knowledge that was going to make me loads of money, I tried to launch a collection of puzzles — a new type of puzzle that I had created.

The problem was — hardly anybody wanted it. I only made one sale, and that wasn’t even through my “product launch.”

I didn’t know that it’s much more important to meet people’s needs.

I just wanted to DO something.

That can be a good thing, in many cases. But when it causes you to hastily and unwisely jump at opportunities which later backfire, it’s obviously not a good thing.

You can learn a lot from your mistakes. It’s just nicer not to make so many of them.

Ways to Avoid Being Scammed

Now let’s address each of the possible descriptions of yourself, and figure out how to avoid falling for a scam in the future.

If you value honesty …

When you are presented with a great-looking opportunity/training/tool, look for at least three honest reviews before making a decision. These reviews should present both pros and cons about it.

Also, check out any alternatives that the reviewers present. If the alternative itself has a lot of negative reviews, you might question the honesty of the reviewer.

To avoid feeling like you’re going off on all kinds of little bunny trails, trying to see if a reviewer is honest, so you know if they’re giving an honest review of whatever it was you were researching in the first place, keep a record of reviewers that you do trust as being honest. Then look to them first for reviews.

If they haven’t reviewed a particular product that you might be interested in, you could ask them if they would consider doing a review!

I know all this may take some time. You do have to balance time with money. If something is $7 and seems pretty likely to be worth it, you could just go for it. But if you do this, be on guard when they offer you an upsell!!

An upsell is a related product that the owner offers you right after you make a purchase. It costs more than the original product — that’s why it’s called an upsell. It is usually marketed as something that will enhance your use of the original product.

There can be downsells, too (costing less than the original product). But with an original product priced at $7, the next offer is going to be an upsell.

The upsell sales page may give you the impression that if you don’t act now, you’ll never be able to get this at such a good price. And since you just spent $7 anyway, your mind may be telling you that this is all okay. But if you haven’t done enough research yet, STOP at the $7.

Save the upsell sales page, so you can come back to it later if you want to. Then either do more research or use the $7 product and make your own evaluation of that product first, before deciding on any upsell.

If you need to make money now

Because of your desperate need, it can be very easy to slide off the edge by falling for a scam, and make your financial situation even worse.

This is a tough place to be in. So you’re going to have to be tough on yourself.

You may need to ask someone else to keep you accountable. If you’re thinking of a certain avenue for making money, get their advice first. Give them permission to ask you from time to time how you’re doing in this area.

As you keep looking for a way to earn money, do some obvious things like cleaning out your basement or garage and selling stuff on eBay or at a yard sale, etc.

If you can tutor, do childcare, or pet sitting, do it.

If you can cut spending, do it.

Keep looking for a way to earn money from home long term, while you do whatever else you can do in the short term to relieve the financial pressure.

If you don’t know what knowledge or skills should come before which other ones …

Search for free training.

Often times when someone is selling a high priced training or coaching program, they do webinars to get people interested. Watch these webinars. But don’t purchase anything yet.

Watch more webinars. Take notes. Ask questions on the webinars if that’s possible. Keep learning.

When you’re tempted to pay $199 for some training, do a Google search for anything related to that type of training. You may find some free tutorials, maybe on YouTube.

Get to a point where you have a pretty good idea what your first few steps should be, to be able to earn money online. Then look for training or tools that relate to those specific steps.

When you’re ready, evaluate the options, read reviews, choose one product, and get started.

Continue making a list of the next things you’ll need to learn. And so on.

As my dad says, “Something is not on sale if you don’t need it.”

Learn how to learn what you need, and then get the best deal on it that you can.

If you’re an eager beaver and need to reassure yourself that you’re putting in your best effort …

Being a hard worker is a very admirable trait. You just need to find a direction where it actually pays off.

Which brings me to my next point.

Is There Anything that Puts the Good Stuff All Together?

No. Not that I know of.

Okay, wait. There is something that puts most of it together… except for the need money now part.

This won’t promise you an income next week. But in a week’s time, if you put your best effort into it, you would be off to a good start on earning an income in a few months.

It’s a training program, with website hosting, WordPress, keyword searches, a supportive community, and more, built into it.

You don’t have to wonder what you need to learn next, because it’s all laid out step by step. The careful sequencing not only makes learning easier, but gets results.

It’s called Wealthy Affiliate.

You can try it for free, and choose to upgrade if and when you’re ready.

–> If you would like to read my honest review of Wealthy Affiliate, click here.





24 thoughts on “How to Stop Being Scammed

  • July 19, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Very informative article! I myself am very wary of scams especially when dealing with things online. I actually have the problem that I may be passing up legitimate products because I am afraid they are a scam. You’ve done a great job at describing what to look for as signs of a scam.

    I love that your dad says something isn’t on sale if you don’t need it. My dad is the opposite and will buy something simply because it’s on sale which drives me crazy haha.

    Do you have any advice on recognizing products and programs that aren’t a scam? I like the idea of looking for at least 3 positive reviews before trying something. The only thing I would say though is be wary of products that have TOO many positive reviews because unfortunately good reviews can be purchased just like any other product.

    • July 19, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks, Jon, for your very thoughtful comments. That’s interesting that you said you have the problem of possibly passing up legitimate products because of being afraid they might be a scam. That’s an important thing to be aware of, too.

      As for how to recognize products and programs that aren’t a scam, I think it’s important to find or get to know someone you can trust. You’re absolutely right that there could be too many positive reviews on something. So you have to somehow review the reviewer. See what they say about other things, too, to see if they seem honest. If they let you in on who they are as a person… if they’re real about themselves… I think they would be more real and honest about whatever products/programs they are reviewing.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:20 am

    This is a much needed and must read article for everyone.

    To be honest, everyone of my online friends use to tell me “Yeah I too gone through that pain I lost money on scam programs”. And I also lost a lot of money to online scams and I know how it feels and the pain it cause. Your article gives great insights and its very helpful. Prevention is better than cure.

    To share my experience…

    Many make money online programs in their sales page they claim a lot of things and when we buy the product and enter the members area they give us disappointment. Many products out there under-delivers and they will ask us to buy their upsells again and again to get more benefits or more value.

    Many make money online products are full of… Too much hype, fake promises, fake testimonies, low value but high price as you mentioned, under-delivers etc., Although there are few genuine products or programs because of these scams it is really hard to find the genuine ones and if people find it also they are afraid to join.

    Thanks a lot for the informative and helpful post. You are saving people time, effort and money!

    Wishing you Great Success!


    • December 21, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      You made a great point, Paul, that because there are so many scams out there, it’s hard for people to find the genuine ones, and even then they may be afraid to join. I would rather have someone think long and hard about joining a good program than to act quickly and fall for a scam. And two good ways to do that long, hard thinking would be 1) read reviews, and/or 2) join something that’s free, and that gives you all the time you want to look it over before deciding whether to pay anything for an upgrade.
      Again, thanks, Paul, for your comment, and I wish you success as well!

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:21 am

    Hi Danette,

    Yes you are right about scams.  I call it the Shiny Button Syndrome; going after money making activities online without reviewing them first!

    Most people new to internet marketing fall for a scam or two.  It is totally normal due to some people or founders of companies who want to make quick sales of their product, physical or digital. In a non-savoury way.

    We live to learn.  But learn we must.  It took me quite a few years to settle down with one company and that is Wealthy Affiliate.  Support and training second to none.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • December 21, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Stella,
      I certainly agree about Wealthy Affiliate. With the thoroughness of the training, being able to ask a question and get an answer quickly, the support of the community, and seeing people succeed … it’s the real deal.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:22 am

    I’ve read a lot of articles about how to avoid scams, but never have I read one that mentioned understanding WHY you keep getting scammed. I think it’s because not many people consider this a factor even though it is because the scams are the things that usually tug the hardest on your heart strings in order to get you so pumped up about the opportunity to have something better, that you buy into it.

    I just wanted to throw in there that another great way to avoid being scammed is to do thorough research because there are more and more honest bloggers our there like yourself that are trying programs and platforms for the sole purpose of telling others whether or not it’s worth their time and money. 

    Thank you so much for sharing these great tips! I’m sure you’ll help many!

    • December 23, 2018 at 12:41 am

      You’re welcome, and I really do hope others will benefit through research and reading honest reviews.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:23 am


    I know how it feels to be scammed. naughty people claim to Be Someone else but they are not. It is a horrible feeling when you experience it.

    Your points are absolutely right, specially when they are trying sell you something that dose NOT hold the product or service value. It would have been great if you showed any reviews on website that are trying scam people. I think you are one of the best person to this. great creative juice comes from frustration.

    It was quite smart how you promoted WA a amazing education Centre, very clever!

    Thank you sharing this article. I’m looking forward to seeing another one from you.

    Have a great day.

    • December 27, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Thanks, Jelani. That’s a great idea to review some product that is a scam, as an example and also as a warning to people. I will try to do that. Thanks.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:25 am

    What a great article. I think most of us don’t want to admit that we fall victim to scams but most likely all of us have at some point in time. I feel scammers are so successful because they prey on people who are desperate or looking for a way to change their lives. When you’re in that state of mind it’s much easier to fall victim to scams and false advertising. Personally I think that get rich schemes do not really work nor truly exist. People need to take the time when looking at potential products and services and, as you say read reviews and do their research. Thanks for the article!

    • December 27, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      I think you’re exactly right, Lynne, about why scammers are successful. They literally use people’s need and fear to their advantage. No matter how much we feel that we need money, we would do well to stay away from so-called “get rich schemes,” and focus on something that is proven to work if we ourselves are willing to put the work into it.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Thank you for this excellent post. I have fall into the trap of these people who either scam or high price products with low value. Though i shop majorly online with paypal , so i know that i can get my money back if the product is not worth it. Some refud some denied me refund. I mostly shop i made with bitcoin almost ended in scam. Until i discover your first step of how avoid being scam which “review the product online first ” before i dance to the tone of buying it or not. In fact i have been scammed to the extent that i decided within me that i must stay away from online business untill i find wealthy affiliate who were so honest with their programm. You have centered your point to the general problem of buying things online. Most products on clicbank and jvzoo are fake. Thank you for offering this great value.

    • December 27, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      I too have tried quite a few things from JVZoo. Some products were worth it, but many were not. Honest reviews are so important. I’m glad you found Wealthy Affiliate!

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:33 am

    Great article. I appreciate the honest view of how to avoid scams. I wish I had read yours or someone else’s like it to help me many years ago. Even to the point to be able to tell my dad that his Multi-Level Marketing plan wasn’t for me. 

    I am currently a member of one possible scam and do not like the way they make their money online. I am not real sure about how legit they are. I am also a member of the real deal…Wealthy Affiliates (WA)…I have been with them for a little over 5 months and know for a fact that what you say about them is for real. 

    Once I signed up with them I went Premium after three days. I just couldn’t pass it up since I had a little taste of the training and realized that I would not have received any more if I didn’t sign up as a Premium member. 

    Thanks for your honesty and insight on how to spot a scam. Have you found that your experience with WA makes you more aware of the scams, since their honesty is without question?

    I wish you the best!


    • December 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks, Bob. I appreciate what you said about Wealthy Affiliate. Yes, I agree — it is the real deal. And I think it has helped me to be able to better spot the scams. Part of this is because I no longer have that feeling of needing to grasp at something if it even offers a hint of success. I have already found a real path to success (in WA), and am experiencing that success. So when I see some other offer, I can step back and evaluate it more realistically, and compare it with what I already have.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Thank you very much for this  amazing post,unfortunately we have a lot of scam out there and it usually comes in different format,one must first realize why he is falling for these scams,i can’t agree less with you on that. Then another thing is run away from get rich schemes. 

    • December 27, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      I agree, Clement. We should run far away from get rich schemes. Success requires work. And work is a good thing, not just because of what we gain, but because of what we learn in the process, and how we can even help others along the way. Thanks for your comment!

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:42 am

    thank you for this helpful information about how to about is I’m very aware of this that’s why when I programs the they offer a lot for hardly doing anything I avoid it mostly because you ending buying more in order to that program to work and in this times is hardly find something the we can trust at first everything looks like a scam now that’s why before I buy something I try make sure the feedback about the product or program

    • December 27, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      Yes, you’re right that a lot of times, if you try to buy some online program or tool, you end up buying more than you thought you were going to, because of the “upsells.” First, they tell you how great the product is, and then after you get it, they tell you that to really get the most benefit, you have to buy something else. And then something else. It’s good for the seller — they make more money. But not so good for the buyer who hasn’t even had a chance to use the first product yet.

      With Wealthy Affiliate, you don’t have to pay anything to use it at a starter level. And you can take all the time you want to decide whether to upgrade to Premium. In the meantime, while you’re in that decision-making phase, you’re actually seeing inside of it and getting feedback, advice, and encouragement from a lot of people who have been in the program a lot longer.

  • December 20, 2018 at 2:46 am

    You’re writing about me!  You were in my head when you wrote this.  I was the one that kept signing up for one useless program after another.  I can totally relate to all of the points under “Understanding Yourself”.  

    And your advice on how to avoid being scammed is spot on.  I should refer to it before I make another spend online – as a checker to check myself and to ensure that I’m purchasing for the right reason.

    Thank you for the insightful article.

    • December 31, 2018 at 3:19 am

      You’re welcome. So many of us have made this mistake (too many times). But hopefully never again!

  • December 20, 2018 at 5:08 am

    I find that it is very easy to fall for scams especially when the need for money is tight. When you have bills that are due in the next couple week or months and you have no steady income, it is hard not to take what’s in front of you even when you shouldn’t take it. That is how I fell for quite a few scams myself.

    • December 31, 2018 at 3:21 am

      Me too. It was because we needed money, but then I lost money. I don’t ever want to do that again. I’m so glad I found Wealthy Affiliate!


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