Pay for Placement Scam

I am breaking my review of the games coming out in 2019 to talk briefly about a weird experience I am having with a website.  In my travels the other day I stumbled across one of those “Top 100 Gaming Blogs” lists, and I clicked through to see if there were any blogs on it that I recognized.  Generally speaking this is not the case because in my experience these lists tend to include a ton of corporate blogs managed by the game companies themselves.  The sites listed largely fit this bill, but as you got towards the bottom of the list I saw a bunch of smaller sites…  none that I actually recognized but still smaller than MassivelyOp that was also on the list.  Looking around the site it seemed to be a mishmash of two things happening…  firstly it was some sort of a RSS reader tool that seemed to suggest that you could subscribe to a bunch of sites and get their content delivered to your mailbox.

Secondly it seemed to be selling access to the blog information to marketers, since when you register a site you are providing a contact name, the URL and an email associated with the blog.  Claiming to be able to provide relevant bloggers in a given subject area.  There was a form that allows you to submit your blog and on a whim I decided to do just this.  At this point things start getting really weird and shady.  You notice I have not mentioned the site yet or linked to them…  it is largely because of the behavior that followed and my not wanting to give them any eyeballs as a result.  Within minutes of signing up for the website I got the following email in my inbox.

Pay for Placement Scam

So essentially on top of selling to marketers, they are also double dipping on the back end and running a pay for placement scam.  This email arrived so rapidly that it has to have been scripted, and that they did not actually take any time to review my website.  Additionally it isn’t really a “top 100 gaming blogs” list if you are letting people pay money to get onto it.  As a curiosity I clicked through to see how much it cost for this gold service, and things get even stranger.  For reference its roughly $24 a year, to essentially place your website on one of their lists, which is a thing I was not interested in.  However two hours after clicking on the link to view the pricing… I got this email.

Pay for Placement Scam

Of note… I am blanking out the guys name because he keeps email from his personal account on the site in question and in general I don’t think it is terribly cool to spread someones actual name around.  I am not trying to Dox the person after all.  Things keep getting weirder from here.  Roughly eight hours pass and I get an email from the site telling me that I need to verify my email address.  My working theory is that since I had not been responding to this guy at all… he is assuming at this point that I must have given him a bogus address.  At this point I am finding this whole process interesting… so I validate the address and upon landing on the site it tells me that my account is in violation and that I have signed up for too many websites.  That in order to keep using the service I will have to upgrade to Gold.

Pay for Placement Scam

This morning I got the above email which is honestly what prompted me to take time and write about this scam.  Notice how that it has switched from being listed on a top 100 list to being listed on a top 200 list.  Additionally they are pushing a bunch of information about the site trying to sell you on how many eyeballs your $24 a year is going to be buying you.  Back in High School there was something referred to as the “Top Scholars” scam, and there were a few perpetrators out there.  They would request mailing lists for all of the graduating seniors and send out a message targeted at the parents touting that their child had been selected as some sort of an elite scholar and that they had earned the rights to be listed in some book.  They go on at length about how much this book is going to improve their chances of getting into a good college, and that the only catch is that they needed to purchase one of these deluxe edition gold leaf adorned $150 tomes to go ahead with the listing.  Thankfully our gifted and talented coordinator warned all of the parents about this scam and as a result my parents did not fall for it…  but I know others who did.

What we are seeing with Feedspot is a confusion amalgamation of product offerings…  including something that is very much the digital version of that scam.  They seem to be targeting the bloggers themselves and promising fame and more traffic and targeting the marketers promising a verified list of contacts to get them in touch with people who could influence their customers.  For everyone else…  you have a RSS feed site that offers an email digest service.  There is nothing necessarily “wrong” with a capital W about anything they are doing, but it is nonetheless somewhat shady.  The thing is… this isn’t the only site offering a somewhat questionable top 100 list and likely not the only site that is going to offer to place your site on said list for a small fee.  This is more or less a public service announcement that when you see something like this… it is likely going to be a scam.

I’ve still not responded to any emails from the site, because at this point I find it sort of entertaining.  Hell if they actually do read my blog they might make a response here, but I have been pretty careful not to actually include links to any of their content.  Posts like this one are likely why no one will ever take this blog seriously…  however I do have an interesting product review in the works.  I’ve always said that I was willing to review products if they actually were something somewhat related to my interests… and if there were no strings attached…  and someone actually finally nibbled on my conditions.  So we will see how well that works out once the product actually arrives.

 

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