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Traffic arbitrage

Paid Surveys for money: Mechanics, Law and Morality in 2023

Are surveys for money a fraud?

Arbitration can be different. Someone who has seen a large number of schemes and approaches in the market for a long time. Most approaches exaggerate the properties of the product or service they are intended to promote. This is a personal matter for each individual arbitrageur — how far to go in their marketing efforts, what to advertise and how. 

But arbitration has one general idea — there is always a product or service at the end of the chain. They may be of different quality, but they are there.
The question of approach and the degree of mislid is on the conscience of individual people and opinions on this matter may be different. We do not evaluate the moral aspects of arbitration, let those who earn money from it do it. But if the user is offered a service and he pays for this service, and in the end he does not receive anything, not even the opportunity for this service, then this is not arbitration, this is a scheme for taking money.

Let's figure it out: is the internet survey a hoax or the truth?

We decided to figure out how the scheme with paid surveys for money, which is extremely popular on the Russian-speaking Internet, works. Perhaps this will help someone to think about whether it is worth doing this, and someone, outside of the arbitration world, will explain what these polls are and why they pop up at every step.

In short, the scheme works like this: users stumble upon a link to a paid survey, where they are promised hundreds of thousands for answers to questions from "major manufacturers". As a result, payments are required from them to receive the money won, and gradually the user parts with the money without receiving anything in return. 

In this article, we will understand how the scheme works, talk to those who earned money from paid surveys on this scheme, and also turn to a lawyer to find out what consequences, from the point of view of the law, await those who are engaged in it.

And interesting contests from scammers

To distribute links to a paid survey, videos of Instagram celebrities are usually used (we found them with Buzova, Ivleeva, Timati, Amiran and Davidich).

The videos are mounted in such a way that only information about the drawing remains, and the original conditions of the competition are cut off. As a result, we see in the creative that Ivleva is playing 5 convertibles, but no information about the actual conditions of the competition is indicated. The description of the creative contains details and the transition to a paid survey.
Example of a creative with Ivleva:


A creative with the participation of a celebrity reinforces the survey with authority and gives him the necessary credit of trust so that the user believes in the reality of winning. 
However, creatives with stars are not always used. Sometimes they just send a message that a person has won a large sum, and inside the letter is the cherished "To get a prize, go to our website".

Where do they drain traffic to surveys for money

Facebook Instagram and Google traffic is most often poured into surveys for money. At the same time, not only the search for the "survey" is targeted, but also a wider range of queries, up to cooking dumplings. The main task of targeting is to reach the widest audience. 

Sometimes they pour with push, but this is more difficult, since for this you need to pass moderation on the image. Mailing by mail is also popular, many people put questions on the traffic back links.

Paid Survey Funnel

That's what paid surveys promise: to get money, you need to answer a few questions "from manufacturers of goods." The questionnaire cites the motivation of companies that "benefit from millions attracted by this action to learn about them." It also mentions that not all participants will receive a cash prize, some of them get a discount from "partner companies". Fake comments are seasoned with "realistic" negativity. Someone received only a discount on Aliexpress or on Lamoda, and someone was able to withdraw only 80 thousand.
At the end of the paid survey, the amount won is called. To get it, you need to make a payment in the amount of N rubles (usually up to 200) to "secure the account". Then you will need payments for other services, an approximate list of them and the cost (data about the Grand survey 20!9) you can see below. So the user is forced to make one payment after another, but he does not wait for a win.

Price List

As a result, those who took surveys and paid money do not receive any winnings. A paid survey doesn't even work as a lottery, it's just a scheme to withdraw money.

The legal side of the issue or how to catch fraudsters in deception

The site contains a Privacy Policy and an Agreement with the user (offer agreement). Unlike the guarantor of a secure translation, these links are clickable. If you look at the Agreement with the user, you will notice that the document is trying to imitate legal agreements.

Let's look at excerpts from the document.
"We remind you, the resource at http://example it is exclusively informational and informational! Any payment or deposit of funds on the above-mentioned resource is made for the receipt of informational materials after making all necessary and provided by the developers of the resource payments.
After completing all the necessary payments, you will receive informational and introductory material for further independent work on the Internet without technical or any other support from the site administration. http://example ".
The agreement represents the extortion of money as a payment for "informational materials".
Under no circumstances the Site Administration http://goo-i.xyz and other domains owned by the intellectual property rights of the administration, will not be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special or other indirect damage as a result of any use of information on this Site or on any other site, to which there is a hyperlink from our website, the occurrence of addiction, decreased productivity, dismissal or interruption of work activity, as well as deductions from educational institutions, for any lost profit, material damage, monetary damage, moral damage, suspension of business activities, loss of programs or data in your information systems or otherwise arising in connection with access, use or inability to use the site.
Do these agreements have legal force? What should the victims do?

We consulted with our lawyer, and here is her comment.
"The administration of the site (the perpetrators) initially deliberately mislead citizens (owners of money), knowing that the victims will not receive any benefit in the future, but at the same time they will suffer losses; using their trust, they receive an advance on account of the upcoming imaginary benefit without the intention of providing it.
The agreements that fraudsters are obliged to conclude have no legal force, although they will be presented at the preliminary investigation and in court sessions as evidence to the site administration.
The site administration does not specify in the agreement the regulatory legal acts corresponding to the articles of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. If such an agreement-contract is drawn up on the basis of civil law relations, then mandatory references to the Civil Code (Civil Code) are needed, but there are no such articles in the Civil Code.
In the current legal legislation there is no such thing as a "Disclaimer of liability" (in the Civil Code there is a concept of "non-declaration of claims under certain conditions").
The victims must provide full information stored on the Internet as evidence, as well as payment documents on the transfer of funds; witness statements of other deceived users, etc., etc.
Such activity, as a rule, has qualifying features under Part 2 of 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation — fraud committed by a group of persons by prior agreement or under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation — fraud committed by an organized criminal group (organized criminal group). If there are qualified signs, the sanctions of the article are stricter, that is, heavier punishments. 
The victim with a statement on the initiation of a criminal case on the commission of fraud against him under Article 159 of the Criminal Code. The Russian Federation may apply to:
the SO (Investigative Department), the SU (Investigative Department), the Department of Internal Affairs (ATC) or the IC (Investigative Committee);
the Prosecutor's Office (Prosecutor's Office for Supervision) in order to monitor and supervise the identification of illegal activities of the site (Internet resource);
to the regulatory authorities for the protection of consumer rights (Rospotrebnadzor). (Considering that in the agreement, the site administration indicates trainings and the provision of certain information materials, i.e. a service, but in reality there is no such service or it is of inadequate quality)."

Where are the origins?

The first reviews of such questionnaires appeared online in the spring of 2016. Then the scheme functioned as a video survey. It was necessary to watch the video and then answer a number of questions. Further, in order to receive the winnings, a fee was required to "secure the account" and so on.The money was withdrawn through a payment system that is still functioning and through which money is still being withdrawn. It is not difficult to register in it, as in other payment systems used by survey creators.

Availability of offers

We decided to find out how easy it is to get offers from paid surveys. To do this, we have registered on one of the platforms for direct communication with advertisers. After 5 minutes of verification, we had access to all offers that could be immediately started to turn. Payments were promised at least every day.

When asked about the legality of this activity, the sellers offered to "not worry."
We asked a few questions to the owner of one of the paid surveys.

When asked about traffic sources , he replied:
He answered questions about payments:
A little bit about income: that's how much one of the owners of the offer earns. In the last column — earnings for the day.
It is obvious that colossal sums were received through such surveys. The editorial board has reason to believe that the total volume is estimated at tens of millions of dollars. 
Let's talk a little bit about volumes with those who earned money from it.

About surveys for money firsthand

We found (it was difficult) an arbitrageur who was engaged in offers for paid surveys and asked him a few questions.

— Tell us about the real volumes that are poured from what you know?
— When I went into this topic before NG 2019, they poured 10 thousand dollars of daily profit from Google.

— How many conversions did you manage to make yourself?
— Listen, I don't remember exactly how many conversions there were. For there is also one conversion,   but it can go up to 20 apsels. On average, there were more than one thousand conversions per day.
— As for the moral component — what is your attitude to such offers?
— Arbitrators will all burn in hell. We will click on banners, but we will never get to land. So I think that this kind of scam has a place in our business, along with offers about joints, diabetes and so on. To me, they are no better than polls.

— What approach did you personally use?
— Everything was simple and primitive. Procla based on the ministry. A large button to take a survey and comments. Then the traffic got to the land and converted.

— Why do you think such a blatantly black topic still exists?
— Because it was legalized. It all started on the Tele2 payment card, then problems started with it (the technical part was merged into the public. But in general, the Tele2 payment card still allows you to do things and pour balik). As for the current situation, now the tops in the market have bank billing, which allows you to easily and easily accept any payments from almost any cards (yes, there are failures, but where without them). And if complaints are received, they simply return the money to the card with which they paid and move on.


To talk about good and evil in the framework of arbitration is a thankless task. Someone will say that commodity offers are the same withdrawal of money, someone will object that goods are different and can give the desired effect. For some, gambling is a crime, for others, satisfying the natural needs of many. We don't know what the arguments in favor of the polls might be. But surely there will be such.

In the end, everyone decides for himself what is permissible and what is not. It is easy to preach morality, it is difficult to justify it, said one prominent philosopher. So we invite everyone to think and justify for themselves the principles of their work in its moral aspect. Are you ready to take money away from people, often pensioners? Is it worth it to buy a smoky hookah? If yes, you will always find a way. However, do not forget that the consequences of such activities can be sad.