4 important questions about any autosurf program: Internet ScamBusters #173
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today’s topic is VERY controversial — and quite important. We’re going to talk
about autosurf sites as a way to earn money.
The reason we say it’s important is because the most common question we’ve received
for the past two months is whether or not specific autosurf sites are legitimate
– or just scams.
First though, we recommend you check out the most popular articles from our other
sites during the past week:
Paying Taxes with Your Credit Card May Not Always Be a Good Idea
Can You Really
Buy a Home with No Money Down?
Looking For the Next
The Gift of Light
Now, onto autosurf sites…
Autosurf Sites: A Real Way to Earn Money or a Scam?
Autosurf sites promise members payment for viewing ads — often very large amounts
of money. They claim autosurfing is a great way to make money — and they are
extremely popular right now.
But how legitimate are these autosurf sites — and can you really make any money?
This has become a very hot question, because the Security and Exchange Commission
(SEC) recently filed fraud charges against the owner of perhaps the largest autosurf
site, 12dailypro.com, and alleged this site was actually a $50 million Ponzi scam.
(A Ponzi or pyramid scheme is a scam that promises people outrageous returns or
payments, and pays them with money from new investors or members instead of money
generated from the business. Since this is not sustainable over time, Ponzi scams
always collapse and people who join later always lose money. Ponzi scams are illegal
in the US.)
The Concept of Autosurfing
Autosurf is a controversial form of online advertising, where different advertised
websites are automatically rotated in the viewer’s browser. Advertisers, of course,
pay the autosurf company to have their websites as part of the rotation. Viewers
are paid cash or credit to view the advertised websites.
Autosurf sites are rotated automatically for the viewer. No interaction is required
for most autosurf programs, so there is usually no way for advertisers to know
if the viewers are even seeing the ads.
In fact, many autosurfers leave their computers and go and get a cup of coffee
or go to the gym while the autosurf ads are being displayed. This is a huge disadvantage
for the advertisers.
Why People Autosurf
The primary reason people autosurf is to earn cash or credits. Some autosurf sites
require people to add their own money, which combines some kind of job (watching
the ads) with a type of "investment" or "membership."
The second reason people autosurf is to get traffic to their own websites. Some
autosurf programs will show your website to other members in direct proportion
to how many times you view other websites. For example, you might earn one credit
to have your website shown for every two websites you view. Websites that are
purely for traffic and require no monetary investment are called "traffic
exchange" programs and are not Ponzi scams.
Legitimate Autosurf Programs
There are autosurf programs that do indeed pay their members money. However, it’s
important to note that the money being paid to the site’s autosurfers isn’t coming
from the members themselves. The money is coming from paid advertisers.
Here is how a legitimate autosurf program works:
Advertisers pay the autosurf company x dollars per thousand impressions. (An impression
is when the website is displayed in the viewer’s browser as part of the rotation.)
For example, it’s not uncommon for an advertiser to pay $1 to $2 per thousand
impressions. That means the advertiser is paying the autosurf company $.001 to
$.002 per impression. Then the autosurf company pays their autosurfers a percentage
of that amount — for example, half of the amount it gets paid by the advertisers.
That means that an autosurfer would have to have 1,000 to 2,000 websites displayed
in their browser rotation to earn $1.00! Since each website is usually displayed
for 15 to 30 seconds, it’s easy to see that these autosurf programs will not lead
Now, the companies who are buying advertising know that they are getting impressions
and not necessarily visitors. That’s why the cost of autosurf advertising is so
low. And as you can see, that’s also why autosurfers aren’t getting rich off of
their autosurfing efforts.
Again, notice that in the above example, the money being paid to the autosurfers
is coming from the paid advertisers, not from the members themselves.
What About Autosurf Sites That May Be Ponzi Schemes?
At these sites, you don’t autosurf for free — you have to invest in the autosurf
program. These sites promise that you will get paid to autosurf, and the amount
you get paid is often proportional to your investment.
Usually, there is a wide range in the amount you can invest — from just a few
dollars to thousands of dollars. And, you’re promised a very high rate of return:
1% to 10+% per DAY for 100 to 500 days.
The more you invest, the more you are told you’ll earn for your viewing of the
These sites also have a recruitment component. In other words, you recruit others
to participate in the program. That’s part of the system.
How Do You Know if an Autosurf Program Is Legitimate?
Here are four important questions to ask:
1. Are the payouts high? If you are promised unusually high earnings, be VERY
2. Do you need to invest your money to autosurf? In general, you should never
have to pay to get a job. Again, be very skeptical if you are asked to pay or
invest to join.
3. Where is the money to pay you coming from? Is it coming from advertisers paying
the autosurf company or from other members’ fees?
4. Are the payouts related to what you are doing? Why should you earn more money
for viewing the same ads if you have more money invested in the program? (After
all, advertisers don’t get more benefit if you’ve invested more money.)
Caveat: You can always ignore good testimonials in deciding whether or not something
is a Ponzi scam. Ponzi scams DO pay their early members (usually outrageous amounts),
so Ponzi scams will have great testimonials. Ponzi scams fall apart when not enough
new members join or when there are complaints that generate investigations –
that’s when people stop getting paid and millions of dollars are often lost.
Another characteristic of Ponzi scams is that they often have a very charismatic
founder. This is certainly not a requirement of a Ponzi scam, but often people
who have been scammed will later still defend the founder who scammed them.
Currently, the SEC has filed fraud charges against the owner of 12dailypro.com.
The owner is accused of running a $50 million Ponzi scam and pocketing $1.9 million
into her personal bank accounts. According to an SEC statement, "at least
95 percent of revenues have come from new investments in the form of membership
fees from new or existing members. The other ‘multiple income streams’ from advertising
revenues or off-site investments were either negligible or non-existent."
12dailypro.com, which had over 300,000 members, has ceased operations.
12dailypro.com is only one of many, very similar autosurf programs out there.
Are these current autosurf sites Ponzi scams? We’ll let the FBI and SEC make the
final determination. In the meantime, we recommend you look at any autosurf program
VERY skeptically and ask (and get good answers to) the four questions above before
you make a decision to join any autosurf program.
Time to sign off. Enjoy your week.