Category: Warning

Does Your Website Attract Fake Traffic

Website owners are always keen to know how much “traffic” their site gets i.e. how many people visit the site, which pages they read etc.

We all know that some of the traffic on the Internet is fake, but most website owners hope it is a small percentage of the real traffic.  However, some companies in the field of advertising believe that up to 50% of traffic achieved through advertising could be fake.

In this context ‘fake’ means it’s not a person looking at your website – it’s another  computer.

This is the reason why so many websites these days insist you answer a Capcha query (click the I’m not a robot button) to prove you are a human being.

Fake traffic is traffic generated by software not by humans. Fake traffic is used to artificially inflate ad revenue by making a site’s audience appear greater than it is in reality.

If an advertising network identifies a website’s traffic as fake, it will likely result in suspensions or even bans on the publisher’s advertising account.

How To Identify Fake Traffic

This is a complicated matter and needs expertise, but you would start by examining the statistics for the website :-

  • A very high bounce rate can indicate a lot of disinterested visitors or bots (computer programmes rather than people)
  • A very low pages/session figure can mean people attracted to the site are only interested in one link then they leave. If combined with a very short average length of visit can mean automated viewing not people.
  • Geography: If your website is in English and you get large amounts of traffic from countries where English is not typically used much, that can indicate suspect traffic.
  • A sudden unexplained increase in traffic can be welcome but if it doesn’t make sense e.g. no extra purchases or comments then it may be caused by automated systems scanning your website.

How to Stop Bots Accessing Your Website

Using a CAPTCHA to ensure visitors are human rather than computer is a good start and there is a file on your website called robots.txt which tells bots whether or not they are allowed to access the website. (Check on the Internet for how to access and edit this file on your website). Reputable business bots will access and obey the instruction in robots.txt but scammers, spammers, hackers and many others will ignore it.

If the fake traffic problem is seriously impacting your website and customers, then there are online services that will filter out such unwanted traffic but that does cost of course.

All sites attract fake traffic and the more popular a site then typically the more fake traffic it will get.

If you have any experiences with this problem, do let me know, by email.

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Blank ATM Card Scam

This scam appeared as a comment on the Fightback Ninja blog – clearly the scammer was chancing his luck or just dumb as dumb can be.

There’s a long boring story about how he lived on the streets in Las Vegas, then his luck changed.

He saw an advert for a blank ATM card that can be used to used to hack any ATM machine in the world.

He contacted the hackers selling the card and they were experts on repairing ATM machines and programming them and knew exactly how they worked. The hackers then taught him all of their tricks and now he can get money from any ATM machine he wants to use.

Some scammers seem to enjoy telling their ludicrous stories and this one certainly has a very high opinion of himself, pathetic repulsive criminal that he is.

There is no such ATM card and ATM machines are incredibly hard to defraud, whereas gullible people are much easy to con.

Don’t be fooled by any such adverts or people claiming to have a magic answer to making money – crime is crime and if you follow that path you will be found out and suffer for it.

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Fake Mystery Shopper Jobs

The email is titled “Mystery Shop your local Asda store” or could just as easily be Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco, Aldi etc.

This one claims to be from ASDA but is in fact from safe-sending.co.uk

It continues

Find out how to be a Supermarket Mystery Shopper below

We are looking for members to mystery shop at their local Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, ASDA, Morrisons and M&S stores. We want to know your thoughts on customer service, product range and store appearance. If you believe you can conduct a 500 word review with photos, please register for vouchers below.

  1. Register now and complete the lifestyle survey
  2. If successful we will send you vouchers to your address
  3. Complete a thorough analysis of your local supermarket
  4. Send us your review for display in the Product Testing Review Room

Then there’s a link to start the application.

Mystery shopper is one of those work from home jobs that a huge number of people would love to have. But there are very few such jobs, so scammers use the attraction of these jobs to lure people. In this case they just want you to fil in their survey as that’s what they get paid for.  They don’t have any mystery shopper jobs – it’s just a con by a marketing agency.

If you’re looking for a mystery shopper job, do make sure there is a real job available before giving your personal information to anyone.

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Fake Online Reviews

Online reviews of a product or service can be very useful and most people buying online do check out such reviews first.

Surveys suggest that more than half of the adults in Britain, around 25 million people, use online reviews such as on  Amazon, eBAY, Tripadvisor, Foursquare and Checkatrade to provide confidence in the product or service and find the best deals.

Generally, we assume that those online reviews are honest – by people who have actually used the relevant product or service and giving their genuine opinions.

But, some companies cheat – they pay others to create fake reviews  in order to get more business. Sometimes they try to cover up bad reviews by posting lots of fake positive reviews and so on. This distorts the situation and is dishonest. If a company ‘distorts’ online reviews then they are in breach of the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The Competition and Markets Authority says that shoppers who use the internet to research hotels, books, electronics and other purchases are being routinely misled by millions of fake reviews orchestrated by companies to trick potential customers.

This problem of distortion is not new. Magazine reviews have always been a little suspect as it is well known that the reviewers are given free products and sometimes trips to great places to review the products. So can their opinion be completely unaffected?

Also, the bloggers and vloggers who do product reviews online face this problem as their opinions can carry a lot of weight but they are commonly offered free products to test.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

There is further information at

http://www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/guidance/13-warnings/46-the-problem-of-fake-online-reviews

In conclusion,  online reviews can be very helpful but you do have to consider why the author of such reviews wrote them – was there any self interest involved or monetary benefit?

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Mini Bonds Warning

A mini-bond is essentially an IOU issued by a company to an investor, in exchange for a fixed rate of interest over a set period of time. At the end of this period, the investors’ money is repaid.

This is how bonds of all kinds are used. The investor gets interest on the ‘loan’ and the company gets  cheap money for a period, essentially.

There is no legal definition of a ‘mini-bond’, as opposed to a normal bond, but the term usually refers to bonds for relatively small businesses, often retailers, that may struggle to raise money on larger markets.

Typically, the bonds are for three to five years, and investors earn regular interest payments during the life of the mini-bond. Some bonds offer rewards in another form such as discounts on their products.

The return on investors’ money entirely depends on the success and proper running of the issuer’s business. If the business fails, investors may get nothing back.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) say that Mini-bonds typically offer high returns and this reflects the much higher risks involved compared to other types of investments. A business does not generally have to be regulated by the FCA to issue mini-bonds and there is normally no protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Any investors should think carefully before investing in a mini-bond, and not invest any money they can’t afford to lose.

From 1 January 2020, it is against FCA rules for anyone to promote ‘speculative mini-bonds’ to retail consumers, unless they are considered to be ‘sophisticated’ or have a high net worth.

The specific type of mini-bond that the FCA consider to be the most problematic is where a company raises money from investors with the intention of lending the money to a third party or investing in other companies, or property. Being able to pay interest and repay the original investment depends on how these lending or investment activities perform. Where these products are marketed to ‘eligible’ investors, they will have to clearly state the risk of losing all of the investment, and also provide clear information on the costs and charges associated with the product.

This type of company could face cash flow problems that delay interest payments, or it could fail altogether and be unable to repay any of the money investors have lent it.

Mini-bonds cannot easily be converted into cash as there is normally no market for these bonds.

If you receive a regulated investment service, such as investment advice, relating to a mini-bond from an authorised person and they fail to meet DCA standards, you may be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

If you have any experiences with mini bonds, do let me know, by email.

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Warning: Surrey Roadside Scam

This roadside scam is relatively rare but reoccurs in Surrey from time to time.

You’re driving along and see what looks like a broken down car and a person sitting or lying by the roadside. Many people will just drive by, but some will stop to help and that’s what the scammer is relying upon.

The scammers are generally male and well dressed – they want to look like businessmen and often pick busy roads or even motorways for this scam.

If you get out to help, then you find that the driver has simply run out of petrol and offers you his gold ring as collateral for a loan of some money to get petrol.

The ring or other proffered gold jewellery will be fake of course and your money will be gone.

The safe thing to do is keep on driving and if possible, report the incident to the Police so they can investigate if it is a genuine breakdown or a scammer.

Do not get caught out.

Have you seen this scam in your area?

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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