November 22, 2013, 10:30 AM — Every few months it seems I get the same email pitch. Somebody wants to pay me to publish a link to their client’s site on one of my blogs. The client almost always turns out to be a casino.
Last week I got another one, from someone calling himself “John” at Discover Media UK. He offered to write a 300-word guest post on any topic I wished and pay me up to $120 for it, so long as the post included a link to his client. When I asked who his client was, he told me point blank: GamingClub, an Australian online casino.
But this was not my first time at this particular rodeo. About six months ago I got almost identical requests from a company calling itself Media Discovery UK. They were a bit cagier about whom they were representing, but a little Internet sleuthing revealed the name of their client: PartyBingo.com.
Are Discover Media and Media Discovery the same people? If I were a gambling man, I’d bet on it. But there’s no way of knowing for sure. These folks go to great lengths to obscure their real identities -- and that alone should provide a big red flashing warning sign.
Me, I’d advise staying far away, unless you like incurring Google’s wrath. But some people are happy to take their money.
The shell game
These companies all have the same MO. They send out identical emails using a variety of names, which are almost certainly fake, offering payment for a Web link. Typically they target small hobbyist blogs whose publishers are overjoyed that somebody wants to pay them, even a piddling amount, for doing essentially nothing.
Some sites will publish a story on a related topic that contains a link to the casino. Some sites put up a graphic containing a link. And some blog publishers just plop the link randomly into the middle of an otherwise unrelated post. (BlondeSuburbia.com I’m talking to you.)
The company Web sites look real enough, until you dig deeper and discover they’re often one-page affairs. They may list a phone number (it will probably go straight to voice mail) and a street address (usually a mail drop or a registered agent that provides basic services for hundreds of companies). Usually, though, the only way to reach them is via a bare-bones Web contact form.