Joseph L. Flatley wrote an in depth article on the greasy business of Internet Marketing:
The term Internet Marketing in this context describes both a particular business model used to sell fraudulent products and services online, and the community or subculture that embraces it. It operates out in the open — with poorly designed websites, tacky infomercials, and outrageous claims designed to scare off the wary and draw in the curious, desperate, and naive. The Internet Marketer positions himself as a marketing “guru” with a product or coaching services guaranteed to generate income.
I’m familiar with this stuff from my brief stint in search engine optimization (SEO), and from a couple friends who went down that particular rabbit hole. But I never realized how deep that rabbit hole goes. Flatley writes:
PushTraffic was what is known as a boiler room. As Dan Thies, an SEO professional and former employee of an Internet Marketing company called StomperNet, explains, Internet Marketers often “sell super-cheap products so they can get the names and phone numbers, and turn people over” to boiler room companies who try to sell the unsuspecting consumer fraudulent goods.
If you’ve seen Glengarry Glen Ross, you’re familiar with the boiler room MO: pressure a lead into spending a heck of a lot of money on something worthless.
It goes deeper still.
Flatley wrote a follow-up on Mitt Romney’s connection to one of these boiler-room operations, though perhaps that’s less interesting now that the election is over: : Mitt Romney goes to Scamworld: Prosper, Inc. and its powerful friends
Mother Jones has covered these connections in more depth. Rick Perlstein’s essay on scams in the conservative political world fits into this as well.