Chapter I: The Beginning
Hello friends, very welcome to our podcast about the journey of an online job scam victim who tries to earn online money but falls into the trap of scammers. Listen to this unique story and learn from his mistakes. This podcast helps you become aware of the modus operandi of online job scams that target unemployed people, school students, homemakers and elders.
Ajay was a 12th-grade student when he got his first computer with an internet connection. He is a Genz child who is fascinated by new technologies and discoveries. He spent 3-4 hours playing computer games daily, chatting with friends on social media and surfing the internet. One day, while surfing the internet, he came across a website called ‘clicktoearn.com’.
The blue-coloured theme websites, with a beautiful home page, have a banner in bold and big letters shouting ‘Earn $500 daily’ while completing simple tasks.
The home page contains a menu in the upper portion of the website with links to pages like Home Page, About Us, Contact Us, How it Works and Sign-up.
The home page of the Clicktoearn website has an image of a girl with a pile of cash throwing up in the air, and in the background, there is an image of a big house and a Ferrari car.
Below the image, a $25 sign-up bonus is promised. Big and easy money always attracts human beings. The same happened with Ajay.
Ajay became very curious about the website and did a little research about it. He looked at the website working and clicked the ‘How it Works’ page link.
The company has a straightforward plan. Instead of spending money on advertisements and paying advertisers, the company decided to give money directly to people who help them in publicity on social media. It is a fair deal, Ajay thought. Many companies pay to bring new members to their website or app.
Like many people, Ajay found it amusing, but he forgot that the’ Clicktoearn’ website has no product or service to sell.
Moving forward, the next step for Ajay was to know what kind of work he had to do. He read further that ‘the members have to use their social media account to earn passive income. Anyhow, people spend their time on social media and timepass, and now they are given an opportunity to use their time to earn money. ‘The work is elementary level, and anybody can do it; the only eligibility required is to know how to use a laptop and the internet.’
‘Every member gets their unique referral link. For every click on the link, members will receive $10; for every conversion/if people join the website using the member link, they will receive $20.
Ajay is in his late teenage years when a person is neither a child nor an adult. They believe they know everything, but lack of experience leads them to make mistakes. But mistakes are good, and we all learn from them. After knowing the work, Ajay started calculating how much and how fast he could earn.
Ajay thought, ‘For every click, I will receive $10’. Even if people don’t register, there is no harm in clicking a link. I have around a thousand friends on social media; even if five hundred of them click the link, I will get five thousand dollars. It will equal Rs. 4 lakh; I can use it to buy a Playstation and set up my gaming zone. If 100 people register themselves, I will receive an additional two thousand dollars, around Rs. 1.6 lakh, and that too only in one month. I will surprise them with a foreign trip and take my friends to an amusement park.’
Ajay was in his dreamland when suddenly, a notification appeared on his computer.
‘Don’t waste this opportunity- register and take a $25 sign-up bonus- Hurry!
Limited time offer.
Without wasting any second, Ajay jumped on the notification and clicked the sign-up button. He filled in all his details and clicked the register now button. The link took him to his dashboard, where all the tasks and activities of the members are shown.
Ajay saw the wallet section and was very happy to see $25 in his account. He went ahead to put up a withdrawal request, but as soon as he placed the request, he received a message.
‘Sorry, your withdrawal request can’t be processed’.
Ajay is in shock and asks himself why I am not able to withdraw the money.
In his mind, this $25 is his money for which he has done nothing. But still, for him, that $25 is his money, and the company has no right to stop his payment.
He looked around the website and went to the FAQs section. There, he found a clause that states that ‘before putting your withdrawal request, a member has to cross the minimum payout limit’. What is the minimum payout limit? Ajay asked himself.
The company explained that it is not possible to transfer a small amount of money over a wire transfer, so a considerable amount of at least $350 must be earned on the platform before withdrawing. Ajay found it logical. He came to his dashboard, where the task had already been mentioned.
Ajay clicked the task section and found his unique URL link. The task is effortless: share this link and receive money for every click and new registration. Ajay, before sharing the link, wrote a message.
He wrote, ‘Hi everyone Ajay this side. I have come across a click-to-earn website that will give me money for just clicking the link, so please, even if you don’t register, your click will help me earn money.
Thanks and regards
He attached his URL link with the message, and almost everyone who received it clicked on the referral link as there was no harm in clicking it.
“It is amusing how average we all think and work.”
After a while, Ajay found that money was credited into his account, and in one day, he almost got 100 people to click on his link, which resulted in thousands of dollars in one day.
Ajay started jumping on his bed and shouting in happiness that he had earned a thousand dollars in only one day. Without wasting any time, Ajay made the withdrawal request, and a message came.
‘Your withdrawal request is submitted successfully’.
Chapter Two: Unmasking of Scam
One week passed, but nothing happened. Ajay didn’t receive any money; he was confused and helpless. Nothing was present on the Contact Us page except for an email ID. Therefore, he wrote an email to the ‘click to earn’ website.
In his letter, he wrote.
“Even after completing my tasks on time and meeting your requirements, I am still waiting to receive my payment. I have already been delayed for two weeks, and no reply has been received. I request that you please look into the issue and issue my payment.
Thanks and Regards
Two more weeks passed, but nothing happened, and he didn’t receive his payment. Suddenly, one day, Ajay received an email. It states that,
We cannot process your payment because one condition of making 20 referrals has yet to be met. Please make 20 referrals and then place a fresh request.
Ajay is shocked after reading it, as this clause is not mentioned on the website. He became furious but saw his dashboard and found that he was only three people short of meeting the requirement. So, he asked his family members to register on the website using his link.
After completing the referral task, he again put in the withdrawal request. Furthermore, his request was submitted successfully.
This time also, nothing happened; Ajay didn’t receive any money, and he was furious and wanted to sue the company. However, the problem was that he had no solid information about the company.
He realised that before using the website, he didn’t check the owner’s or company’s information. He understood his mistake of not knowing about his employer.
People generally don’t think logically when they see the fulfilment of their desires possible. They become partially blind when somebody promises their dream.
In hindsight, we all want to win a lottery without buying a lottery ticket. We want to become millionaires by luck only. People think and believe that many people get lucky, so it is possible that they also become rich by luck.
When a website like Clicktoearn comes into their knowledge, people believe in unrealistic gains just because many people get lucky and, on the internet, getting rich is easy.
As there is no tangible loss, people don’t think there is any harm in trying websites like Clicktoearn, as happened with Ajay. In his mind, he lost nothing except his time, but he also wasted his resources and data. Now, scammers can use their data for any purpose.
After two more weeks, Ajay received an email that his request was successful, but processing would take some time. As his package is basic, the payment will take longer than the premium package. Therefore, if he wants to pay fast, he must buy the premium package.
After waiting almost eight weeks, Ajay was frustrated and had doubts about the website. But as soon as he knows that for just $30, he can upgrade his account, and in two days, he will get his money. He again did the maths and calculated that he had $600 in his account, and even if he pays $30 still, he could have $570, which is also a good amount.
He bought the premium package and again filed for the request, and a message of successful submission of the request came. The message asked to wait 3-4 business days to see the money in the bank account.
Ajay felt relaxed now. He thinks two days are short as he had already waited eight weeks to get his payment after two days when Ajay visited the website and tried to log in to his account.
Surprisingly, he was not able to log in. His account was no longer working, and scammers deleted it. He again checked the website, and after a few days, the website was off the grid. The click-to-earn webpage is not working any more.
Ajay was angry and sad; he never thought he would be a scam victim. After realising that the click-to-earn website has scammed him, he starts researching it.
The problem with scam awareness is that people search for new and unknown websites only after getting scammed. They don’t check the reviews of the website before using it; it is simply because their desire to earn good money easily is way stronger than their logical mind. If people start checking a website review before using it, they can save themselves from scam websites.
Chapter 3: Awareness & Realisation
Earning money or income is our essential survival activity. We all want to make money, and it is possible to earn from the comfort of your home via the Internet. The problem arises when people generally believe online earning is easy and simple. Scammers exploit this general thinking of average minds.
Scammers set the trap whenever a person, especially an immature or newbie, tries their hands at knowing about online jobs. They lure people by offering easy tasks and big money as done by the ‘click to earn’ website.
Fraudsters use new themes and techniques to trap innocent people, but as they say, no matter how clever a thief is, they always leave some clues. The same happened with online scammers. No matter how beautiful and sophisticated a website is, we still can point out the red flags that tell us the real face of the website.
I will point out some Red flags of Online Job Scams that every person must be aware of
Too Good to be True Offer
Scammers’ first and foremost weapon is to give what people desire, i.e., unrealistic deals. This mindset that earning online income is an easy task also led to the common thinking that making an enormous amount of money is possible.
Scammers’ only work left is to offer unrealistic deals like a member will receive $10 for every click on a link, ’ people believe it. The sign-up bonus of $25 is one of the biggest red flags on almost all online job scam websites.
scammers can’t reveal their identity, i.e., why most scam websites never had their owner information or story on the ‘About us’ page. Genuine website shares their journey on the About Us page, but scammers can’t do it. If they provide some information, it is easy to know whether it is fake.
Generally, people never try to check the background of the website or its ownership. Like Ajay, people only check the website’s legitimacy after two to three months.People don’t check about the website initially only because they want it to be genuine, even if they feel that something is wrong with it.
We must understand that to log in or register on any website, we must provide our information. It means the website maker wants to know about people signing up. Similarly, people must know about the website where they spend their time and resources.
You will only find an email ID on the Contact Us page. Scammers share no phone numbers or business addresses.
Easy Task, Great Money
One of the biggest red flags is when somebody wants you to refrain from using your skill or knowledge to earn money. Scammers offer easy tasks like sharing your link, data entry, Captcha filling and other similar tasks; in return, they provide good money. The click-to-earn website does this. But they never pay to any of its members, as happened with Ajay.
Referral methods Scam
the problem with the referral method is that it is not a fraud scheme like the Ponzi scheme. Genuine companies also use it, but there is a subtle difference between real and fake schemes.
Genuine companies have some product or service to sell to their members. For example, Paytm offers Rs. 100 to bring new members to its platform. And we all know Paytm’s business model.
On the other hand, scammers don’t have any business like the click-to-earn website. The only work they have to offer is to share your link with others, but they do not tell you for what, as they don’t have a business product or service to sell. Scammers accumulate people’s data, which they turn into Big Data and sell on the dark web to anonymous third parties.
Asking Money to Release the Payment:
Employer never ask their employee to pay for registration or release their payment. We saw how the click-to-earn website asked Ajay to upgrade his package to release his payment. Genuine companies do not do it. It is not ethical, not a standard, to hold somebody’s payment and ask for the money to release the payment.
No Social Media Account:
Scammers only put a little effort into making a 100% perfect scam website. It is done by only big scammers who came to scam in billions. For small scammers who don’t want to go into the limelight, they never reveal their identity. Nobody can find any social media account of any scam website.
Scammers understand that if they make social media accounts, people will write to them, and their scams will not take off as they desire.
No Business Plan or Strategies:
Every business works to earn a profit. They need plans or strategies to achieve revenue. Then only they can pay their members or have big investors.
Websites like Clicktoearn and others never have any business plan. They do not have any real business to work. People need to check the website before using them; if they do, they will realise no real work is offered.
Scammers do not ask for any skill or knowledge. They want people to use their website, give them their financial and personal information, buy their superfluous packages and bring more people. This vicious cycle continues until the website shut down.