Payday loans are growing fast in the performance marketing space, and while most of the companies in the industry are doing things ethically and legally, it seems that some lead generators have decided to engage in possibly illegal and definitely unethical tactics to generate leads.

If you are to believe what has been written, some bad guys are buying Payday Loan leads that are coming from sites that have been hacked. Supposedly the hacks occured  in order to improve both rankings by linking to Payday sites or hacking sites themselves to put loan applications on these sites – then selling the leads to either other lead generation companies or to the lenders themselves.

According to several sites on the internet and exposes written in newspapers like the Daily Mirror, one of the biggest companies connected to the scam is a company called T3Leads. These stories have said that the hacks are associated with T3Leads because they have lead forms on the sites or are redirecting to T3lead sites. Because of this, they are assuming that T3Leads is involved in the hacking themselves.

The problem with the accusation is that the people making it have little or no idea how the industry works: affiliates generate leads for the companies, and the companies often are unaware that they are getting leads through this method. Perhaps some companies do know how the leads are generated, and ignore it, but unless someone can specifically point that the company, in this case, t3Leads is involved with the scam, there is no proof that they are actually the company involved. Obviously, if they are aware of it, their actions are not ethical at all, and the company should be called out.

t3Leads responded to the claims by posting:

Although this article attempts to paint T3Leads as complacent with these actions, it is completely lacking in reality. The fact of the matter is when the individual publisher in question attempted to use the tools of our network in an inappropriate way, T3Leads investigated the issue and blocked this individual from ever working with us. Due to the prompt action taken by T3Leads, the sites in question are no longer available.

Through hard work, we have become leaders in the industry and have grown accustomed to baseless attacks by those attempting to gain a small percentage of our market share. Therefore, we encourage both our competitors and business partners to open further dialogue with us and determine themselves how dedicated we are to policing this industry. We believe a clean and open industry is needed for our consumers, and we will continue to lead the industry in this respect.

Unfortunately, this goes back to the same problem the performance marketing industry has always faced: that the bad actions of affiliates are often considered to be directly related the bad actions of the network. Weirdly enough, despite numerous examples of fortune 500 brand advertisers appearing on porn sites, hacker sites, via “main stream” advertising networks, the media seems to ignore those examples and focus on the performance marketing industry.

Makes sense, why would a major online news site want to point out that potentially agencies and advertisers they work with are being promoted on porn sites and lose the business?

It’s much easier to point the fingers at the performance marketing industry and somehow make associations where they may not lie.  I personally have no idea if T3Leads is involved, but unless someone can show specific proof that they are the people behind it, and they are refusing to take action to stop this type of lead generation, then we need to consider other possibilities and take their word at face value for now.

The leaders in our industry also need to call out not only those who do bad things, but honestly, start the challenge the media’s interpretation of what happens in our industry. While great companies are generating millions of leads for companies through legal and ethical means, there will always be a small percentage of people who attempt to fool the system by creating fake leads, poor leads and even using illegal tactics to generate those leads. Usually those are offshore affiliates, not the companies themselves, and those affiliates jump from network to network and anyone in the game knows how much time it is trying to prevent these dirty publishers from ruining your companies’ reputation. The industry in general is fighting these problems, hiring fraud companies to prevent fraud and being very pro-active to prevent scammers. We need to make sure that message is what we talk about when talking to the industry first.

What's your opinion?