The Securities and Exchange Commission is warning investors to beware online “paid-to-click” scams that promise an easy payday by merely purchasing a membership or an advertising product up front and then clicking on a certain number of online ads each day.
The SEC’s investor alert explains that these online advertising programs may have little to no revenues besides membership fees or sales of “ad packs” and may be nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.
Paid-to-Click scam signs:
- Easy money. Be skeptical if you are offered high returns in exchange for merely purchasing products or for trivial tasks such as clicking on a certain number of online ads each day. Any investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true probably is.
- Required upfront payments. Be wary if you are asked to pay money upfront to participate in a PTC program, even if it’s supposedly for a membership plan or product purchase. Why would a company require you to pay a membership fee or to buy a product, for the “opportunity” to click on ads?
- No revenue from genuine products or services. Ask to see documents, such as financial statements audited by a certified public accountant (CPA), showing that the PTC program generates real revenue from selling products or services. If the PTC program has no revenue from customers other than its own members, any returns you receive are likely from other investors’ buy-in fees.
- Virtual address. Verify that the business address listed for the PTC program is legitimate. For example, enter the address into an online search engine and be skeptical if the results suggest it is not a valid address or that the PTC program does not have legitimate operations at the location.
- Withdrawal problems. If you have trouble withdrawing your money or are required to reinvest your profits, it may be because there is not enough money coming in from new investors to cover earlier investors’ withdrawal requests.
“Facebook on Fire” email campaign from Sender: email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, Marc Roy, Sender’s address: 183 Miller st., GOGAMA, Ontario Canada, Zipcode: GM638A, is an example to such fraud.