On August 16, FIJ published a report exposing how Vera Coker, an affiliate marketer with Expertnaire, a digital marketplace, led other marketers to manipulate profits made on the platform.
In the report, FIJ showed that Coker was teaching her mentees to manipulate screenshots of credit alerts to convince others that the platform was paying, and get them to register.
One of her mentees, on a WhatsApp group Coker was heading, said in June that “I have someone that said once I got payment, he would register”.
Other conversations bordered on how to convince people to register to be affiliate marketers on the Expertnaire platform.
While our reporter was investigating the fraud, a revelation that would be reacted to by the company, he pretended to be an intending affiliate marketer who wanted to learn from Coker.
When he asked if she stood to benefit anything from him registering on the platform via a link she provided, she said no. This was a lie.
For Coker and a number of her mentees and others who tow the same line, the intent of the scam is to convince others to become affiliates after seeing and believing that they have been earning.
Our reporter probed further to understand why affiliate marketers want more affiliate marketers to compete with them in the market instead of getting more customers for the products they help vendors sell.
To understand this, FIJ looked into what affiliate marketing is and how it works, and spoke with other Expertnaire marketers.
WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?
According to Neil Patel, a Forbes-rated top 10 marketer in the world, “affiliate marketing is the process of earning money (commissions) every time you promote a company’s products or services and drive a sale. You only get paid every time you drive a sale, just like a commission-only sales representative”.
By this definition, affiliate marketers help other companies or persons to market a product and earn a bonus from doing so successfully.
This makes it a legal business model globally, and anyone can engage in it. Marketers reach an audience the original company cannot reach, and they get rewarded for their efforts.
On Expertnaire, what marketers are charged with selling is books, and the company has recorded tremendous success despite Nigeria ranking among countries with the worst reading cultures in the world.
UNWRAPPING THE PROCESS
When FIJ asked Coker if she would earn if our reporter registered through her, she said no, and that it was not a referral programme, but FIJ learnt that to become an affiliate with the company, one would have to purchase a 72IG training programme, a material authored by Toyin Omotosho, Expertnaire founder.
The material costs N62,500 and earns the buyer a slot as an affiliate marketer.
This was the material she intended selling for the registration to be complete. But when FIJ spoke with another marketer with the platform, he said that they earned 50 percent of every sale of the material.
This explained why marketers wanted other marketers to register but did not justify the manipulation.
In one interaction between our reporter and a member of Coker’s group, the member (on condition of anonymity) said that “I already deleted the group. I didn’t do it, because it was looking fake”.
When FIJ made checks online to see how rampant the scam of forged alerts was, nothing came up. This was the same case when our reporter attempted to see what books sold more on the platform.
However, Emmanuel Adiotu, the company’s affiliate manager, in a telephone interview, confirmed to our reporter that the company pays 50 percent to affiliate marketers who onboard new marketers via their links.
He also confirmed that the material with the most sales was the 72IG training programme that helped other people become affiliate marketers through affiliate marketers.
With this, FIJ was able to establish that Vera Coker and other mentees were affiliate marketers manipulating figures to sell affiliate marketing to people who would sell the same to others.
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