How To Recognize & Stop Affiliate Fraud

Welcome to our affiliate marketing fraud prevention tutorial. Brands are reporting that 20% of their budgets for affiliate marketing are being wasted with affiliate fraud and that’s a real shame considering affiliate-based marketing is becoming essential with our current economic climate.

Make sure you read about how big data is changing marketing here first.

In this expository text, we are going to show you step-by-step actionable tips for preventing affiliate commission loss and how you can create an infrastructure of success.

Now let’s examine some affiliate fraud techniques commonly used…

Click Jacking (UI Redress Attack)

Click jacking is a method that people use to trick visitors and to redirect them to a new location by clicking an element that they thought was going to go somewhere else. This allows nefarious marketers to implant cookies for another product than the one that it was intended for.

This type of trickery can hurt a brand’s image when affiliates do this…


Sometimes clickjacking comes in the form of a person clicking an element on a landing page that is false and that resulting click happens on another website with unintended consequences.

As a merchant, you can hedge yourself against this method by tracking the affiliate pages of your publishers by using IP addresses to click the links on the landing page. You can automate this process or have a virtual assistant do a manual review.

Advertisers are using residential proxies to circumvent facilitate this monitoring at scale.

Malicious Adware

Unfairly earned commissions often are a product of malicious adware that is installed on the localhost machine in the form of popups and other types of advertising fraud. One common way this happens is through browser toolbars or extensions.

Usually, it will alert the user about a promotion on their computer’s machine once the malicious code has been added to the program.

affiliate fraud adware

For merchants, this means inflated traffic that is not generated ethically and converts poorly. Considering it is coming from real residences you may think you’re getting good traffic but in reality, the buyer intent of the traffic is not profitable.

One way to spot adware traffic is by paying close attention to the referrer. Be a savvy merchant by leveraging Google tag manager, social media pixels, and tracking from third-party software so that you know precisely where your traffic is coming from.

Cookie Stuffing

Cookie stuffing must be one of the most controversial and historical cases of defrauding merchants and other affiliates. As you may know, all browsers leave cookies to remember simple things like your username, web preferences, and in the case of affiliate marketing -commission attributions.

Here are the essentials of cookie stuffing that you need to know…

The first step is for a publisher to sign up for multiple affiliates offers from merchants and then the publisher initializes a way to install the third-party cookies on a visitor.

The nefarious entities involved then get credit when a visitor happens to visit a company site and makes a purchase. Obviously, these malicious affiliates make sure the targeted traffic matches with multiple affiliates offers or they attempt to cookie stuff large platforms that list a lot of merchandise.

What this effectively does is rob legitimate affiliates and waste a merchant’s advertising budget.

How To Prevent Affiliate Fraud With Proxies

The challenge in catching affiliate fraud has always been scaling your monitoring efforts, adjusting for GEO-specific ads, and staying undetected while looking at your publishers’ landing pages. Another problem that presents itself is cloaking, which hides landing pages that you will want to access.

Clients are using residential proxies and mobile proxies to solve these issues.

That’s because when you gain access to over 150 countries and two million IP addresses you can effectively monitor multiple publishers with automated processes, see ads that are only for certain regions by mimicking that location, and posing as a real residential visitor.

Implementing this infrastructure allows for a great merchant to publisher relationship that saves merchants money and allows for affiliates to cash in on their hard work.


In this tutorial, we showed you how to prevent affiliate-based fraud and what common methods of affiliate malice are common. As a publisher, you can safeguard your business model by implementing the actionable advice we have given here.

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