A scam within a scam – that’s exactly what most Paid-to-Click (PTC) websites are. For those not familiar with the concept, a PTC platform is a website or an app that promises to pay users for simply clicking on banners and links or watching videos.
If that sounds like easy work, it’s because the only sites that pay for these activities are ‘click farms’.
Click farms are sources of fake paid traffic, often generated in bulk. The users who sign up on these platforms have to visit the site and randomly click on links or ads.
Whenever one of these PTC workers clicks on an advertisement on the site, the website owner gets revenue from the advertiser. Of course, these users are never going to buy anything, which makes the money that the advertiser is paying the publisher a complete waste. This is known as ‘ad fraud’. The website owner, PTC platform owner and PTC worker are all benefiting from this fraudulent activity.
PTC Scams – We Need to Go Deeper
PTC platforms are able to do business because the workers signing up on these platforms are from less-developed countries and have a low level of education. They usually have no clue that they are participating in cybercrime. These kinds of users are susceptible to all kinds of online scams and scammers set-up fraudulent PTC platforms to attract these vulnerable people.
Scammers being scammers are not content having a small piece of the pie. These fake or fraudulent PTC websites usually end up being either of the below three types of scams:
The people running PTC platforms are undoubtedly unscrupulous individuals as they have no qualms about running a business based on cybercrime. It should come as no surprise that many of them will even defraud their own workers to keep the entire money for themselves.
Once a worker signs up on one of these PTC platforms, they will have to work for a certain while to meet the ‘payment threshold’ after which they can request a payout.
This threshold can take anywhere between a week to a month to reach even if the worker puts in a full day’s work. When they finally reach the threshold and ask to be paid…zilch.
They don’t receive a cent of the money promised and the platform owners will never respond to inquiries. The worker might end up getting blocked too.
Advance Fee Scams
These platforms usually promise a much higher payout rate compared to ‘legitimate’ PTC forms. After getting the worker’s hopes up they will hit them with a ‘registration’ or ‘membership’ fee at the end of the sign-up process.
Once a worker pays this registration fee, they will never hear from the company again. It should be obvious that any company that asks you to pay money before you can earn probably doesn’t actually have a source of income. If they did, they would just deduct the fees from your payment.
Another unique form of fake PTC platforms has popped up in the last couple of years – the pyramid scheme disguised as a ‘marketing agency’. These are more like investment schemes than an employment portal.
These platforms too have an entry fee, post which they give some ‘tasks’ to users. These tasks are nothing but promotion of the platform itself as there are no real clients. This includes promotion on social media, messenger apps and review portals like TrustPilot.
While these platforms usually have a ‘free’ tier, users cannot get paid for completing tasks unless they ‘upgrade’ to a paid tier. Further, because the platform is a pyramid scheme that can only pay users if more people enter the scheme, there are huge incentives in the form of referral bonuses to recruit people in your downline.
Once the platform reaches a point where it is no longer sustainable due the number of new entrants reducing, the platform owners pull an exit scam and leave users without any payouts.
Avoid becoming a victim of PTC Scams
Watch out for the below signs of a PTC platform fraud:
- Absurd claims like ‘grow your wealth’, ‘change your life’, ‘best platform ever’, ‘leading platform’ and other superlatives. Even the PTC platforms that actually give payouts pay next to nothing.
- Never pay fees of any kind. Real companies will never ask workers to pay out of pocket. If you have to buy in before you can earn, there’s a good chance you will never get paid.
- Any platform that pays you a percentage commission whenever your referral purchases one of the platform’s ‘packages’ is almost guaranteed to be a pyramid scheme
Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to sign up on any PTC platform. You are automatically complicit in ad fraud just by participating in them.
Always do your research on any online work sites. Read up on authentic feedback and review sites like TrustPilot or search to see if they show up on any scam lists like FakeWebsiteBuster.
Just a few minutes of research can save you a lot of frustration and anger later on.