Banners Broker Are Paying Out!
Banners Broker Scam: Get Your Money Back
The Affiliate Apprentice: Should You Hire One?

Banners Broker Are Paying Out!

Shiver me timbers.

You heard it through this guy first.


Richard Arblaster, take a bow.

This is by far the creepiest shit I have seen in all my years of affiliate marketing.

Edit: Evidently Richard wasn’t as keen on recruiting affiliates as he originally made out. He’s set the monstrosity to private.

For what it’s worth, BannersBroker is not paying out. BannersBroker is broke.

Banners Broker Scam: Get Your Money Back

It’s been a while since I posted a BannersBroker update. Some may be familiar with my coverage of the company from these previous posts:

For everybody else, I apologise. What follows is not likely to make much sense unless you’ve been watching the ponzi unravel over the last 12 months.

The Current State of BannersBroker (Have we got all day?)

To say that BannersBroker is unravelling would be to say that the Titanic got a little damp on her way to New York. Sinking ship is an understatement. BannersBroker, as an investment proposition for anybody reading this today, is absolutely toast.

It is dead. Game over.

If you put money in to this programme today, you will not see it again.

While we can speculate with conjecture over what is actually happening behind the scenes at BannersBroker HQ (and I know many of you are), it has been confirmed that the company is under investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission.

That does not bode well for BB, and it is the reason why you see CEO Chris Smith brandishing buzz words like “active business” and “non-passive“. The company is trying desperately to paper over the cracks and present BannersBroker as a legitimate business, but it’s too late.

The reason for this post is due to recent evidence that it might not be too late for you to get your money back.

Note: But only your initial investment and subsequent deposits minus withdrawals. If you think you’re actually entitled to those ‘net profits’, you should go slap yourself with a wet fish.

Getting Your Investment Refunded

Credit for this information goes to user asdfghjkl on the Money Maker Group forum.

I have received a full refund into my bank account from BB/Stellar Point INC after threatening legal action in the Ontario Small Claims Court to recover my initial deposit. A group of us here in the UK (my upline and other referrals of his) have had significant success with this approach. 3 of us have had full refunds so far.

If you want your money back my suggestion is do this ASAP!!

I didn’t need to take them to court. Just threatening to was enough to get my account with them banned and after a couple of letters from their legal team a full refund was made to the card so originally paid on. Actually made a good return as the British Pound had strengthened compared to the USD over he last 6 months.

I can’t really speculate but it was very clear to me they didn’t want to go to court hence the full refund.

– User asdfghjkl on Money Maker Group

BannersBroker is understandably reluctant to have anything to do with a court order. In terms of legal footing, they are about as ready to engage as a deer in the headlights.

If you have made an investment and missed your first payment, threatening legal action is the best way to get a response (and your money back).

Whatever you do, don’t call the support team. Any support team that takes your money on a ‘per question’ basis is a complete fail on all accounts.

Some excellent steps for how to start the refund process are available on this BB Fightback Facebook page. It includes an email template that you can send to Stellar Point today.

The Banners Broker Ponzi Scam Facebook page, along with RealScam and the comments section on here, are the best places to check for regular updates on users’ attempts to get investments refunded.

You will have to wait until you’ve missed a payment cycle before you can start the legal proceedings (or threatening them at the very least).

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to wait very long.

Chris Smith’s Endless Excuses for Nil Payouts

Below you’ll find a timeline of recent excuses for why BannersBroker members haven’t received full payments. Now bear in mind the company policy that ‘negativity’ should be punishable by account termination.

Any member who complains about these delays faces the likelihood of having his account suspended. Or he would do if BannersBroker bothered to check their Facebook pages (last update in March and counting).

Here’s Chris Smith doing what he does best. Talking complete indecipherable rubbish:

23rd May – Last Payza payout, in terms of the order, people have asked about the dates — there are 2 reasons, one is a mistake and one by design. With Payza, it’s an Excel sent to the system and it pays based on that file. I created this file and put it together. It is date order, but if someone has say 4 pay requests, we will pay one and move to other members . When I did this, I sorted by ID’s, and I forgot to sort by Date (by person). So someone may have received an April payout and March is still pending. By design, due to the OSC investigation, we did choose some of the members who have never been paid before, so that everyone got their money back.

Finch: Were you not paid due to the OSC investigation or because Chris Smith is simply that incompetent? Who knows?

31st May – Payouts – I mentioned on Friday that we were doing STP last weekend, but it was not completed. We will be doing that this weekend. It is a batch upload, so there must be an Excel file that must be done correctly. In the past there were errors with that batch file, so now have to make sure everything is correct. There is alot of important data in that file and it invoves alot of money.

Finch: So a giant company like BannersBroker processes payments manually in an Excel spreadsheet? Seems legit. But not just an Excel spreadsheet! An Excel spreadsheet with errors in it.

7th June – STP payout yesterday. It took longer than anticipated, but did go out. (Finch: No it didn’t) We have alot of positive comments from members (Finch: No you haven’t). If you haven’t received yours you will be on the next run (Finch: No they won’t). Payza is coming up shortly. I hate to give definitive dates. But it will be soon.

Finch: Realising that a new line of defence is needed, Smith plucks a points system out of his arse…

14th June – Payouts: We do have a point system for payouts. It’s not alot different than before. Let’s say if you have a $2K w/d on Jan 1st, than another on Jan 2nd, same person. Person B does a request on Jan 5th for same $2K. Order is Person A gets w/d, then person B, then Person A, in that order. Points are assigned by order. Your first request will get more points than your next requests. More points are awarded if this is your first withdrawal.

Finch: Here’s a simple concept, Chris. Pay your members in full. Is BannersBroker no longer ‘cash rich’?

21st June – Next Payday: we were hoping to get Payza out last weekend. we cannot send it out if it’s not accurate. (Finch: You seem to send out payments with inaccuracies all the time, sometimes to the wrong account. Never stopped you before.) I am very confident that if it’s not today, then it will this weekend. I will make it a point to see that it goes out. STP will be shortly after that. We want to keep people satisfied. We are going in a point system order, predominantly by date, so everyone will not get a payment. However, everyone will get paid so please be patient.

Finch: A hilarious contradiction at the end there, synonymous of the misinformation this ‘company’ breeds to stay alive. All members are equal, but some are more Simon Stepsys than others.

Those are the excuses from the last month, but they stretch all the way back to January and February. For a full timeline of lies and deceit, check out the Banners Broker Iceland page.

Want to know a golden rule of running a ponzi scheme? Never tell your members why you can’t pay them. Blame it on everything under the sun, including your own incompetence, but never ever reveal the truth – that the pyramid is unsustainable, and the men at the top have milked it dry.

Clarifications and Conclusions

Several months ago I received this email from a reader who attended a local BB recruitment drive:

“You may or may not be pleased to know that you were personally mentioned by David Hooker I believe his name is, their Compliance Director, he advised us to ignore your blog, I think they are trying to pre-empt the fact that people will try and do research. They also interestingly claimed that your wife (?!?) is a BannersBroker Affiliate. I somehow doubt that is true, but I think you should be aware that that is what they are claiming.”

“It was your wife he said, he implied you had her join in order to try and drive revenue from banner advertising on your own site higher. The manner in which it was said was just outright nasty.”

Firstly, my ‘wife’ was actually my fiancee, and we’re no longer together. Secondly, she hated BannersBroker just as much as I did. Thirdly, what difference would that make to the banner revenue on this site?

Maybe we need to get Terry Stern in here to provide some simple explanations.

So, BannersBroker’s Director of Compliance (no less!) gets his balls in a twist with yet more malicious lies designed to pull the wool over cautious investors’ eyes. Upon being confronted with the remarks over email, Hooker feigned a ‘misinterpretation’ and promised not to run his little mouth in future.

Evidently the promise didn’t extend as far as his Facebook ‘fan’ page where he is still blabbering pseudo motivational bollocks to anybody who’ll listen.

David Hooker scammer

“Courageous! Determined! Driven!”

If this man has conned you in to handing over your hard earned cash, feel free to pay his page a visit and tell him what he really is.

For what it’s worth, David has recently removed any reference to Banners Broker or Stellar Point from his LinkedIn page. Make of that as you wish.

Another lie I’d like to put straight:

“Heard at a meeting in about the start of February (2013), that BannersBroker flew you to their HQ after seeing the bad press you had spread. They said it changed your mind about them. I just want to confirm whether that is true or I misheard?”

It’s not true, and I doubt you misheard.

I’ve had a few emails from BB apologists – presumably trying to bait me – by interpreting the months since my last post as a sign that I’ve ‘changed my mind’ about the scam, or that I’ve been bought out.

The reason I’ve been quiet is actually far simpler. I haven’t had to defend myself.

When I originally posted about the scam in October 2012, I was pelted with abuse from trolls, shills and damn near anybody with a penny invested in the scheme, as well as being publicly slandered by executives (!!) at Banners Broker recruitment drives. Time was always going to shine a rough light on the BB business model, and so it has.

The users who flocked here to defend the scheme can now be found venting their anger at BannersBroker instead, or promoting the next garbage ponzi. Some, to their credit, have publicly admitted that they were conned.

There’s no shame in being swindled by an international crime syndicate that has dedicated a lifetime to fooling you. Unless you let it happen repeatedly.

Where is Rajiv Dixit?

It comes as surprise to nobody that our friend Rajiv has decided to keep his head low since the damaging security investigations kicked off. This is a man already linked to other failed scams, like the ICF World Homes scheme that he swears was legitimate but somehow still ended up frozen by the Competition Bureau.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission come knocking (as they have been recently), Mr. Dixit knows he’ll be paying the piper some jail time.

I’ve heard some thoroughly unsavoury stories about Dixit that I can’t repeat here for obvious reasons. Some who know Raj on a personal level would be more than happy to throw him under a bus. And from what they’ve told me, I wouldn’t blame them.

In a bid to keep angry affiliates at bay, Raj changed his Facebook name to Rajeeve EswarRao, before seemingly deleting himself from the social network altogether.

Not sure where he stumbled across such a PR masterstroke. Maybe the Handbook of How To Run A Company Like Google?

What about Chris Smith?

How much does anybody know about Chris Smith… really?

Other than the fact that he used to be white?

Smith is the last man standing who is a) dumb enough or b) getting paid enough, to continue talking shop with angry BannersBroker investors.

My impression of Smith from his rumoured links to securities in the past is that he is a pawn. He doesn’t seem smart enough to mastermind a program like BannersBroker, but is happy to stick his face on the front cover.

The general consensus is that Dixit pulls Smith’s strings, so that Dixit can stay somewhat out of the spotlight. As for the ‘geeky genius’ who created the multi-million dollar Banners Broker algorithms? Wake me up when he has a Wikipedia page.

On the subject of Banners Broker management…

I read a depressing post on Facebook yesterday from a BB affiliate criticising the recent troubles, but still refusing to write off the company:

“…Love BB, Hate the managers who run it!!”

Edit: The original message was much longer but evidently the user doesn’t wish to be quoted. See the comments!

This kind of apologetic bullshit is the reason why the scheme hasn’t yet imploded. The managers who run BannersBroker ARE BannersBroker. They are the men who sat around a table and devised this damn near incomprehensible system with one intention: to fleece you of your money, and to get richer themselves.

Another depressing comment:

“OK there are far more experienced players in the on-line advertising industry, but had BB started out purely as an advertising company, I’d have no doubts they would have attracted some long-term business partners.”

Banners Broker has never been involved with the advertising industry. Any revenue they make from the banners on their network will be pennies. It saddens me that people are still falling for this idea that BB are transitioning towards a more ‘non-passive’ business. It has always been a ponzi scheme. You can’t pluck a legitimate advertising business out of the carnage just because the Ontario Securities Commission is on to you.

So I guess the real question is…

Are you going to let them get away with it? Will you continue to buy the panels lies?

The sad thing is, many affiliates will.

It’s a cultural hallmark of greed and easy-living. You’re told that you’re just ‘one week away’ from receiving the riches you were promised, and you continue to believe. A week turns in to a month, still you cling to the belief. When somebody tells you to join the Next Big Thing, you dive straight in because you want to believe in your divine right to easy money – no matter how many friends and families you trample over in its pursuit.

Note: If anybody asks you to join FlexKom, Ripplin, or Adhitprofits, do yourself a favour and don’t. Vultures like Soozi Scoones and Jamie Waters would sell your dying grandmother if it earned them a pot to piss in.

There’s no magic pot of gold under the rainbow and there’s no magic business waiting to fall out of Chris Smith’s arse. Only jail time, and hopefully lots of it.

Eventually BannersBroker is going to disappear and the ‘negative bloggers’ like myself who have been predicting this demise for a year will watch on as the lemmings join yet another get rich quick scheme.

Why? Because of the greed.

I hope those who are still clinging to a belief that BannersBroker somehow has legitimacy will wake up and smell the coffee. For those who are taking action to get their money back, good luck to you. I hope you don’t make the same mistake again.

The Affiliate Apprentice: Should You Hire One?

Affiliate Apprentice

Every now and then I receive an email from a frazzled affiliate with bloodshot eyes and questions like the extract below. I’m going to answer it here for the benefit of anybody suffering similar growing pains.

“Hi Finch. I’ve been running affiliate campaigns on FB/POF for over 18 months now and I’ve made good progress in the dating niche. I still feel like there are opportunities passing me by for a lack of resources/time/etc. There are so many traffic sources I want to try and so many offers, but I’m maxed out and finding it difficult to grow the business. It feels like scaling means sacrificing profitability. Do you have any experience of hiring an apprentice to help with expanding your campaigns? Or even to help organize the management side? If so, how do you keep them loyal instead of running their own offers?”

What you are referring to sounds like the classic affiliate marketing plateau.

Most arbitrage affiliates will be familiar with the point of diminishing returns where their overall ROI starts to suffer from spreading efforts too thin. Maybe you’ve neglected the creatives in Campaign X, or saturated every last eyeball in Demographic Y. By attacking too many markets, or too many traffic sources, you can quickly find yourself working extremely hard to make very little progress.

Instead of looking to hire an assistant, your first step should be to analyse the systems you currently have in place.

We all know it’s important to track campaigns using software like CPVLab or Tracking202. You don’t make money if you don’t see where you’re losing it first. But just as crucially, you need to have a system in place that adds meaning and structure to your tracking.

For me, this starts with a good labelling system.

If I’m running multiple campaigns across Facebook, Plentyoffish, Juicy Ads, TrafficJunky and so on, each broken in to multiple countries and demographics, the first thing I want is a way to distinguish overall performance without going in and viewing every last campaign’s stats from the day before.

If you label your campaigns poorly, the CPVLab dashboard is going to resemble a clusterfuck of insignificance. Sure, you’ve got the data on your doorstep. But if you can’t remember the difference between POF DATING CANADA, FB CANADIANS, and CAN MEN 35+, how are you going to make fast, efficient decisions that enable you to manage multiple campaigns?

Most affiliates are happy to track individual campaign performance. Yep, of course they are. They know the importance of data. But tracking data is one thing, managing it is another. You must have a good consistent labelling system to avoid getting your titties in a twist. And more importantly, so that you are motivated to actually use the data.

What’s the point in having CPVLab or Tracking202 if you can’t use them to get a meaningful status update in the morning? You want an overview presented on a plate; one that makes sense to you.

To stay organized, I like to group my campaigns by traffic source in CPVLab. I will then label using this system:

[Country] [Gender] [Age Bracket] [Keyword] [Optional Identifier]

For example, I might have a list of campaigns like this:

  • FR-M-3045-SingleParents
  • UK-F-2530-BlackDating
  • UK-F-2530-BlackDating-002
  • US-M-4050-GolfDemo

For traffic sources like Juicy Ads, I’m likely to have multiple campaigns for a single placement (based on a country redirect). For these placements, I use:

[Placement] [Country] [SubID] [Optional Identifier]

  • SiteX-DE-SX1
  • SiteX-AT-SX1
  • AnotherSite-US-AS1
  • ThirdSite-IE-TS1

Note: The SubID will also be passed to the networks I work with. That way if I have lead quality issues and I’m running multiple campaigns in the same country, I can distinguish which placement is sending the bad apples. Doesn’t really matter how you track this, just as long as you do.

Now, admittedly, there are more effective ways of labelling. And you can track on a much deeper level if you so wish. But this is the system that I’m happy with. If you are not confident with your ability to oversee multiple campaigns, you will run in to the affiliate plateau. Or to put it simply, you will start launching grenades.

So, step 1 for scaling effectively: get organised. Don’t just track data. Create a system that gives you confidence in it.

The subject of when (or even if) you should hire an assistant is a tricky one.

There are generally three schools of thought:

A. Give a man a campaign and you pay his bills for a month. Teach him how to run them and he’s got his face wedged in strip club titty by Friday night. And he probably doesn’t work for you by Monday. Loyalty, what loyalty?

B. Choose the right personality with the right drive, ambition and skill set. You could have an apprentice today and a business partner tomorrow.

C. Give design work to designers. Give programming work to programmers. Delegate the grunt work; focus your own time on the high value decision making. Keep the core of the business to yourself.

I am generally quite cynical of School B, but that’s only because I’ve yet to find the right ‘apprentice’ to turn in to a business partner. I much prefer the thinking behind School C, and it can be summed up with one classic quote:

“First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you. Third, leave them to go get on with it.”
David Ogilvy

Ask yourself, what is the single most lucrative skill that an affiliate marketer can possess?

In my opinion, it’s his ability to weigh up opportunity (niches, offers, new cheap traffic sources) with reality (past performance of campaigns, basic maths) and then move quickly to strike while the iron is hot. We are not designers, programmers, or copywriters. Our money is made by plugging market loopholes.

This is something that requires a lot of time spent watching and waiting for opportunity.

My view is that you can’t pay enough attention to your primary job requirement if you are balls deep in CSS and HTML.

Our efforts should be focused on managing campaigns and finding new ones. The production work – the copywriting, banner design and etc – should be first on the chopping board when we run in to the plateau and scaling becomes a problem. Why? Because we can hire somebody to do that, but we can’t hire somebody to think like an affiliate.

Of course, for every step you take away from the grunt work, your ability to manage effectively has to grow exponentially. There’s no point in taking on top class designers if you fail to communicate with them, or fail to budget for them. There’s no point in trying to scale campaigns if the ones you already have are slapped across your tracking dashboard in a state that is nigh on impossible to manage.

Does that mean you shouldn’t take on a ‘Number Two’ as your apprentice? …Ever?

It’s a personal decision, but if I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to avoid individuals who offer to work for you because they like the sound of your career and want to ‘get involved’.

Note: ‘Get involved’ is a popular London turn of phrase that translates to “Join the party”. It betrays the intentions of those who think affiliate marketing is their one-way ticket to the Caribbean. Always think twice about partnering up with those who see your career as a piss-up in pyjamas.

I have taken on apprentices in the past who have made all the right noises about wanting to learn the ropes and get to grips with affiliate marketing. But when push came to shove, they would much rather ‘shadow’ my own campaigns than pick up the ball and create their own.

So, how do you define a good candidate for The Affiliate Apprentice?

Very few people graduate from university with a degree in affiliate marketing (and I can imagine those that do know the price of everything and the value of nothing). The best way to describe our skill set is as chameleons floating in cyberspace. We adjust to our surroundings and seize opportunities using a small but varied set of talents.

Should an apprentice be good at HTML and CSS? Should she be a modern day Peggy Olson copywriting whiz? What about somebody with experience in the industries we cling to?

It’s difficult to nail down a job description for an affiliate without matching it to several individuals you already know who would be absolutely terrible at the job. And that’s why I don’t even try.

Most successful relationships, business or otherwise, benefit from opposite forces holding them together. A little yin and yang goes a long way. I believe in those same principles for a business partnership.

If you are looking for a carbon copy of yourself, put a mirror in your office and work longer hours.

But if you want to bring an apprentice through the ranks, find one with a skill set and the personality to eventually become a valued compatible business partner – NOT a replacement for yourself. This is more likely to keep your egos apart.

Of course, remember: the only person who fully gives a shit about your business is you. Especially in an industry as soulless as affiliate marketing.

Don’t hire an apprentice to be your pawn. He’ll have no hesitation in taking your best ideas and playing you for a fool.

It’s a well known fact that affiliates don’t have many great ideas (just read this blog for confirmation). The ones we do have should be valued highly… and not found in a training manual circulating oDesk.

Happy hiring.

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