Even before we discuss about the digital marketing scams let’s just try to recall the things that you have faced from the digital marketers or digital marketing companies, sometimes you may have realized or would have got to know about the types of frauds by digital marketers or agencies, and in case if you are not sure about the kinds of frauds that happen around digital marketing I shall brief you now.

Business owners may have felt annoying and It becomes more frustrating to business owners when it all sounds an,

  • A dishonest scheme or
  • Unjustifiably claiming

The sad part of it is many times the activities or implementations are intentional by the marketers and marketing agencies and many other times it all happens when the mediocre marketers promote or do marketing for your business.

The above two annoying elements are the most common bitter experiences to many business owners.

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Digital marketers and Digital marketing agencies can cheat you in several ways, and finally, you may end up in the following,

  1. Cannibalization of marketing channels & no actual growth in business
  2. No outcome from the marketing campaign
  3. Wastage of money on non ROI campaigns
  4. Business would lose their hold in the market
  5. A mistake from one would make many others jobless
  6. Hinders the growth or progress of individuals and other marketing channels

Deceiving business owners is a crime, it’s a sin too when you cannot actually work towards achieving business owners goals and despite focus only on your personal gain or financial gain and finally put business owners and the whole organization in trouble.

Here are some of the dishonest and unjustifiable schemes from digital marketers and agencies which make the business owners go bankrupt or feel they are been cheated,

1. A non-real user or Bot traffic/activities

Some scammers who may not be digital marketers, but then wear the digital marketer scam and excel at getting the fake likes, shares or visits to your page regardless of the real user interaction or intervention and they would fool you stating its all real users to your website.

Bot Traffic To Website

In this case, you would never see digital marketing working for your business.

Note: when digital marketing is not working don’t mistake it for fraud/scam, sometimes even when a genuine marketer is promoting your business you would still see it not working for some genuine reasons or external factors.

2. Nontransparency of paid marketing campaigns

There are paid marketing professionals who never help you in understanding what’s working and what doesn’t work, how it works, where do they spend most, where they spend less etc. If a paid marketer wishes to submit a summarized report with very minimal details or no details at all, there is a possibility of scam by them.

Anyways, you can have a checklist and make sure that you are safe.

Always ask for the following to ensure paid marketing is working well for you, explained with numbers to make it easy to understand.

Metric/Traffic TypeBrand SearchNon-Brand SearchDisplayRemarketingOverall
Product Selling price (RS)50000
Traffic (Visitors)500050005000500020000
CPC (Rs)20200301566
Spend/Cost (Rs)1000001000000150000750001325000
Leads (quantity)30010050200650
Conversions (Quantity)90301560195
Cost per lead (Rs)3331000030003752038
Cost Per conversions (Rs)11113333310000125011424
Revenues Made4500000150000075000030000009750000
Account Quality (score of 100)10060307065
Margins On product (25%)12500

Paid Campaigns Don't Work

  1. Dark red implies the campaign is in danger or in its bad state
  2. Light red implies slightly better over the dark red status
  3. Green implies it’s going good and contributing a lot
  4. Lighter green indicated going good and contributing, but not as much compared to the dark green

To keep it simple the Paid non brand search campaign is not working for a business may be due to inefficient structure of campaign or poor health of the account, but then the brand campaigns and remarketing are doing Good as the original source of traffic or promotion for both are efforts of some other channel, lets say tv ads and organic traffic, but then it’s all been recorded or attributed as paid, which can happen but having a proper breakdown of brand and non brand performance and actions accordingly are the best ways that real marketers work.

From the above table data it all sounds the account is going in a good state or at least there is no loss, but then the fact is the only brand and remarketing are going good. The other campaigns need attention and the problems need to be fixed.

3. Stealing the other channel efforts and unjustifiable claiming

Let’s assume a company must have done an extensive TV branding and which in turn would have given rise in brand name search on Google and therefore they visit the website from Google search, and now the SEO professionals would project the traffic has increased by 100%, 200% and more. The fact is the actual traffic may or may not have increased, they just mixed it up with the brand search and projected as organic traffic increased by several folds.

Stealing other channel efforts

Business owners need some basic understanding of digital marketing if they have to see some real value or outcome from the digital marketing teams.

If you are a business owners and if you need any help in understanding the quality of your digital marketing campaigns get in touch with us for free advice!

4.Backlinks Scam

Few scammers who are full time into the scam would reach out to you promoting your business across several platforms or portals for the purpose of outreach or do-follow backlinks or leads or revenue generation and charge you a bomb, but then they finally do injustice over all the committed objectives. Beware of such frauds wearing the mask of digital marketing.

The best example of the scammers approach,

Backlink Scam

Scammers Message- Best Example

5. Wrong cost per acquisition projections

The actual cost per acquisition would be significantly high, but then marketers would manipulate it or average it over other non-performing channel and project it even in the scenarios when they are supposed to be true or transparent to the business owners.

Promoting some other businesses through your platforms, profiles or websites

I have seen marketers who are designated to work for you and your business promote some random company or business on your website, social media profiles and more, be alert when you are dealing with those kinds of professionals.

The fact is they must be working for them and would have committed promoting their business on your profiles by seeking some monetary benefits..

6. Intentionally wrong attributing the marketing channel performance

The best tracking tool that the marketers can rely to an extent upon is Google analytics, which usually leverages and attributes the performance to respective channels. But the scammers would mislead you on this front they would prefer to track and show you data on a different tool which does not attribute to respective channels but then attributes everything to itself.

Multi Channel Attribution

For E.G: For example businesses with very long conversion window take take to convert, and now launching a branding or remarketing campaign and recording those transactions on AdWords with last click model would not make any sense especially when major contribution of AdWords campaign is only through brand, and remarketing campaigns (That too view through conversions).

In this case, the analytics would try to push them to the respective channel with the first click channel attribute, whereas AdWords with the last click model attributes everything to AdWords campaigns.

7.Manipulating the tracking pixel for personal benefits

Let’s say a marketer has a responsibility of making his campaigns work and reap maximum, but unfortunately, they would try to prove that they are doing amazingly great by manipulating the tracking pixels when they cannot really make the campaigns work for the business.


An SEO professional has a responsibility of bringing down the bounce rate, instead of working towards it, he tries to deceive the business owner by placing the analytics pixel twice on the webpage so that the bounce is now less than 30 from its 80 or 90.

Another example,

The AdWords campaigns performance can be tracked in two ways,

  1. By placing the AdWords conversion pixel on the payment success page

  2. By connecting the analytics and AdWords, where all the transactions information can be passed to AdWords

Now, when a digital marketer does both the revenues get duplicated and the revenue will get doubled exactly.

Note: In this manipulation, the revenue may not be exactly double as Analytics would report less as it attributes to the respective channel based on the first click model and the window period, whereas AdWords attributes everything to itself based on the last click model.

8. Work for competitors

Working for competitors

This is one of the biggest unethical activity that a digital marketer can do to the business owners. A digital marketing working full time at an organization can be sometimes found working for the similar player behind the screens and this fraud activity puts down one of the players, puts the complete organization and their employees in trouble.

9. Use some random and understandable jargons

The simplest and the biggest scam the digital marketer does in intentionally uses some random jargon, which in fact may be available or may not and usually puts the business owners in trouble without helping them to achieve their business goals.

10. Intentionally projecting the wrong number or faking

False Promises

Marketers would fool the business owners with the fake promises and projections and this is one of the biggest fraud activity by many of the current agencies.

11. Promoting their personal profiles

A marketer promoting his profile on the business websites or activities related to the business for their personal and monetary benefits can be considered to be as a fraud activity if you come across such activities from people doing on your credits keep them away.

Promoting their personal profiles can be as simple as leaving their personal number, their personal email id and links to their personal profiles.

12. Buying tools for their use and bill business owner

An agency must be using tools for their few tens of clients, but then claims a bill for every single client with the same amount as the actual cost of the subscription.

Digital marketers working in your teams too would do it, they buy a subscription of a tool in the name of the company for their personal use. The scam here is the tool is not at all need for the company or business which may be just needed for their personal use.

13. Lie that they have dedicated a team for your project

This is the most common scam from digital marketing agencies, there could be only a few agencies which may have a dedicated team working for you all the time. When an agency is charging claiming that they all time dedicatedly work for a business they are supposed to, otherwise, it becomes a scam.

14. Bluff you with some tools data and their report

A real market always explains to you about the market and your position/hold against the market potential or competition. Fake marketers heavily rely on tools and their unreliable reports and project that data and make the business owners believe in it.

A person with poor domain knowledge relies on marketing tools extensively even before he learn digital marketing.

15. Make service agreements to put you in trouble or bill you for doing nothing

The only thing I suggest about this is to get your service agreement read by the legal service providers or by the real digital marketers to avoid any kind of problem in the future.

I have seen a marketing company billing the business few lakhs everything doing nothing, the business owners could witness there is nothing happening on the project but they had to pay for all those 6-12 months just because they had signed that agreement.

16. Lie that they increase your sales or leads by several folds and just sign off after a certain threshold

90% of the businesses go through this, and they finally realize only a very few agencies can help them out on this. The sad part is by then they would have lost a lot to their competitors and would have gone bankrupt.


These are a very few digital marketing scams that usually happen and put the business owners in trouble. If you are business owners go through any of this share your experience in comments, let’s help other business owners not go through this.

Digital marketers stop doing all these frauds if you are doing any of them, be transparent, help business owners achieve their goals, they for sure help you out if they succeed. I have seen business owners offering amazing gifts to genuine digital marketers.


Manjunath Chowdary

Digital Marketing Expert, consultant, Mentor and
Director of KandraDigital Marketing
Solutions Pvt Ltd.

-Kandra Digital

An agency that’s been built with the core purpose of delivering the quality digital marketing in the era where Digital marketing services are just business rather than the value for the business, business owners and their resources/time.

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