How to Avoid VPN Scams in 2017-2018

As increasing interest develops into VPN technology, we are starting to see more and more VPN scams lately. VPN scams can be anything from mismanaged VPNs masquerading as the “best VPNs around”, or even full fledged scams that promise reduced prices for longer commitments which don’t last more than a few weeks. We see VPN scams in the form of coupons, fake reviews, stack social scams, VPN affiliations, VPN apps, and even from “free VPNs”.

Every week there are more and more VPN providers popping up with “state of the art” encryption that promise 100% anonymity, the best speeds, and a secure and private browsing experience that the NSA can’t even crack. In fact, you’ll even find lengthy and polished reviews from VPN critics and “writers” who have tested such softwares with good things to say.

Suffice to say, the VPN industry is crashing and burning when we need it most. With so many misleading VPN providers, affiliate scam VPN reviewers, and “anonymity gurus” around on the internet, who can you trust? Which VPNs should you even use?

Let me tell you this. If a  website even has “VPN reviews” or even a chart with information about speeds and policies (it is very hard to prove ANY information about a VPN), that’s already a sign some bias is involved. Don’t trust these sites–please.

But unlike these anonymity gurus and VPN reviewers, I’m not “reviewing VPNs” or affiliated with any site at all. Heck, I don’t even have some Twitter account where I pretend to be your best friend or “V for Vendetta” anonymity guardian. I’m not looking for fame, or backlinks, or Reddit acknowledgement. I don’t want to be a mod, or interviewed on podcasts. In fact, I don’t even take donations from this site.

Everything here is just to warn you and educate you about VPN scams, how VPNs work, and what you should avoid. If you should know anything about me, I’m just some pissed off dude with a burning desire to burn and destroy VPN scams and fake VPN providers who promise it all.

Because after all, anonymity isn’t a joke or a scheme, or a way for me to make money. It’s not some get rich quick scheme. It’s something to be taken seriously that affects the world more and more each year as the internet grows and countries start to learn that they can control, subvert, and even manipulate citizens with censorship and internet control. In China, people can’t even visit Wikipedia for christ’s sake, and Winnie the Pooh is blacklisted. What the actual fuck?

In this extended guide on VPN scams, I’ll give you an overview of each type of VPN scams, and what forms they can come in.

#1 Should I Get a Lifetime VPN Subscription?

First up, should you get a lifetime VPN subscription? Well, let’s examine basic VPN pricing first.

Running a VPN is expensive, there’s no way around it. Let me rephrase that. Running a “good VPN” is expensive. Running a cheap shitty VPN that collects and sells your data? Well, now that’s cheap!

If you are looking at a VPN who’s offering a lifetime subscription, they are probably doing so for a few reasons.

#1 Offering a lifetime subscription for this “VPN company” is affordable since they are making money in some other lucrative fashion like selling data for ads.

#2 The VPN provider makes tons of money off ads, browser redirects, or some other form of third party commission sales.

#3 After a year or two, or even some months, the VPN provider might just cancel your subscription or change the pricing model wasting your time, and money.  

#4 The VPN is running some type of Ponzi scheme which means they need more and more users to remain financially stable and they may rely on #1 or #2.

How do “lifetime VPN subscriptions” work?

There are a few ways that lifetime subs usually rope you in. They use a few methods that are super obvious.

Usually they have some type of absurd discount, like 95% for a “limited time” with a star system that indicates good reviews. Then they have other deals that seem more expensive to make you think you’re getting a good deal.

Even better is that sometimes when you get these “lifetime subs” there is fine print that actually says they aren’t lifetime, but “renewable” for free. This requires you to personally contact their support, and who knows if that’ll work later on down the line.

Here’s a customer who bought a “lifetime sub” from Zenmate VPN:

“dont bother with so called “lifetime” vpns when normally they dont. my story is that i use zenmate and i had used ther free version which i found worked well. therefore i got the offer. however its so basic with the desktop version cutting out as well as the android version. its not like it uses openvpn so you cant say use other devices. then 1 day the premium decided to revert to free and after about 2 mouths of trying to get in contact with them as they have really bad support it turned out to be a technical glitch so they did sort it in the end but the big con with lifetime offers is 1 what if the company goes bust and 2nd what if its poor and you cant really switch unless you sell your account to some poor bugger or give it away for free. i did lose £30 because of this.”

#2 Should I Use a Free VPN?

So what’s the story behind free vpns? Well the main idea is that you need to realize why they are “free”. Why would a company give you something for free? We can take a look at any company really to answer this.

Free video games often make money off in-game advertisements, and free VPN companies do the same. They make you pay more for data, or a special “feature” that should be included.

Or you pay to get more “connections” where again, they should be included. Or you can look at mobile gaming as an example. Most “free games” on the iPhone or Android are pieces of garbage loaded with advertisements and in game purchases. Free games are designed around a payment model instead of gameplay mechanics. Free VPNs aren’t any different. At the end of the day, you aren’t paying for a quality product.

While companies like Facebook or Google give you free products and profit off your data, at least this examples give you a valuable product. Free VPNs aren’t a valuable product since they give you slow speeds, they can leak your sensitive data, and in worst cases scenarios, they can even give you a virus!

Summary of How “free” VPNs make money:

#1 Stealing data via malware, logging, or some other form of tracking and selling it to other third parties

#2 Redirecting your browser or from in-app to e-commerce, financial sites, or other commissions based platforms

#3 Stealing bandwidth to form a botnet, as in the case infamous (and still running VPN) Hola VPN

#3 Should I use a VPN App on iOS or Android Store?

One of the biggest platforms for bad VPN applications is the iOS and Google Play Store. These app stores are barely regulated and the VPN apps on these stores are most often free with the aforementioned incentives.

Even worse, a study on applications found on the Android store reveals that most Android VPN apps leak your IP, access your sensitive data, use tracking, contain malware, don’t even encrypt your data, and steal your bandwidth.

The scariest part is that most of these VPN apps on the app stores are highely rated, which suggests that a large number of users are unaware of the malware and data tracking/mining that is going on their very phone.

#4 Watch out for VPN Affiliates and Big Sites and Fake Reviews

Have you heard of websites like BestVPN.com, or other VPN review sites? These sites are based on affiliate commissions and most often the top rated VPNs are sponsored and placed there.

VPN review sites are based on who pays them the most and usually there’s an underlying bias to their reviews. For example, BestVPN.com prefers UK VPNs since they are based in the UK.

If you ask me which VPN I use–what do you think I’ll tell you?

I won’t.

Another website to look out for is restoreprivacy.com. They are a smaller VPN reviewer site warning about scams, when in fact they themselves use affiliate programs to profit off recommendations without any clear mention of affiliation or sponsored content.

I actually got into an argument with the owner on Reddit after he claimed I stole his content, when in fact, all of this content here is 100% legit and actually veritable since I’m not running a VPN review site scam. He actually deleted his account since I caught him red-handed advertising his affiliate website.

#5 Watch out for “Shitty” Stacksocial Scams and Third Party Websites

Heard of Stacksocial? Well, hopefully you haven’t used their site anytime soon since they are one of the biggest VPN scam websites on the internet right now.

Firstly, in order to buy a VPN on their site, it’s usually a lifetime subscription, and we already outlined how those are usually default scams and tricks due to sketchy “discounts” and subscriptions that can be canceled with fine print.

Secondly, you have to give your private information, and banking details to a third party website that is in no shape or form a privacy anonymity service like a VPN company. Why would a VPN company partner with Stacksocial? They obviously don’t value anonymity. If you can find ANY VPN selling on Stacksocial, automatically disregard and don’t use it if you value your operational security.

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7 Replies to “How to Avoid VPN Scams in 2017-2018”

  1. Like a complete idiot, I was scammed today and I can’t believe I’d fall for it after knowing so well the state of the vpn market. I started off years ago, wet behind the ears and bought a stacksocial lifetime vpn! Then, after proper research I realised basically what you wrote above (that lifetime vpns are useless). So after going through a few more. I finally settled, mainly through learning from thatoneprivacyguy. I settled on what I think is a pretty good vpn, albeit a little put off by their slightly strange forum users! Then today, I got interested in an article about virtual locations, from none other than… Restore privacy!! For some strange reason, I bought one of his recommendations, I would never normally fall for this but the website seemed quite authoritative, and I bought! Annoyed with myself now. I understand why you haven’t put a recommendation on here, and I commend you for that. I’d really appreciate a private message though, that way, you don’t damage your integrity and I don’t end up with a crap vpn! Thanks for the article, it’s very well written and will hopefully help a newbie or two.

  2. Greatly appreciated article, you have no idea. Searching for a trustworthy vpn has been one of the most difficult endeavors Ive had recently. You are clearly in the “know” and the article confirmed many of my fears but because Im not deep into the computer world much I truly have no idea where to turn at this point. Im in a bit of a pickle because I admire your lack of vpn recommendations, as its the only site Ive come across that has not recommended a vpn after an article like this, and it creates a bit of the hopeful credibility Ive been so desperate to find. On the other hand, I have no clue where to go to find answers lol. No clue at all. Ive searched everything I can possibly think of and because Im not even that sure what or how to educate myself properly Im left overwhelmed and frozen.

    You said:
    “If a website even has “VPN reviews” or even a chart with information about speeds and policies (it is very hard to prove ANY information about a VPN), that’s already a sign some bias is involved. Don’t trust these sites–please.”

    But I cant find any without that, or at least some form of that. And the ones that seem to have the least amount of that seem far less trustworthy than the actual scam ones lol.

    I dont mind doing the work in researching this, but is there a chance you could help put me on the right path? A good starting point?

    Man Im just lost and could really use your help. Thanks again for the article and I do understand if you do not feel comfortable giving any more direction in the matter, I just figured it couldnt hurt to ask 🙂 Thanks again!!

    P.S. Don’t bother replying Ripoff Reporter — your comment and suggestion is exactly what we are avoiding.

  3. I just installed a trial version of Kaspersky Internet Security, and it has an inbuilt app called Kaspersky Secure Connection, which is powered by Hotspot Shield, and gives 200 MB of free data per day. Since it is a free VPN, it probably collects data about me. My question is, exactly what kind of data is it going to collect about me? The Kaspersky Internet Security I use is a trial version, so they don’t have my name or anything. When I use the VPN, I don’t log in or anything on any site. I just open this or that site. If they log my browsing habits, what are they going to find? That such and such site was opened, but by whom? They don’t know who I am. I have previously used CyberGhost VPN, again the free version, but even with them, there was no registration. I just downloaded the software from their site and started using it. So they may collect data, but how does it help them?

    1. They can sell this data to companies, and this data could leak potentially or be misused. This is why you see a lot of companies sending out apologetic emails every once in awhile complaining about password leaks or other information.

  4. Seriously, has anyone investigated the intricacies of setting up a genuine VPN service properly – the way it should be done. Minus the millions of trackers, stealing of customer information, lying to customers, DSN leaks, marginalising customers, fake locations etc etc etc. These are some of the things we know about, what are they doing that we don’t know about? Most of these companies are taking us for fools.

  5. This is scam too, right? Must be – because it is too good (respectively too cheap) to be true…

    http://www.upcubeocean.comhttps://www.upcubeocean.com/collections/vpn

    (Prices are only shown after (free) registration)

    For example: NORDVPN Premium Lifetime for only 10$ ?!

    Screenshot 1:
    http://img104.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=185527814_uo2_122_339lo.jpg
    Screenshot 2:
    http://img242.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=185525988_uo1_122_3lo.jpg

    You can even get an additionally 10% discount if you subscribe to their newsletter(!):

    Screenshot:
    http://img178.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=185528862_uobonus_122_505lo.jpg

    Old site (which will be allegedly shut down this month of June):

    https://www.dailytechcloud.com/?product_cat=vpn

    Screenshot:
    http://img275.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=185524577_dtc_122_205lo.jpg

  6. It is wise to to assume all commercial VPNs operate exactly as ISPs. They talk about their no log policy and other drivel, but none have proved this and can never guarantee this, it is just not possible. Think your data is encrypted? They hold keys to decrypt. Simple as that.

    Also there is no such thing as a reputable VPN, when that VPN is in the commerical sector – essentially every VPN you have seen. It is interesting, commercial VPNs are in similar positions to ISPs and big data companies. Why? Because these *money orientated businesses*, claiming they’re secure VPNs, are ultimately selling your data back to your ISP and other big data companies. This is what was happening with NordVPN, Tesonet, ProtonMail and ProtonVPN. – Just in a circular sector of data mining. What a beautiful monopoly…

    And who said an ISP, or the NSA couldn’t create a commercial VPN? Please think about that.

    Now there are reputable VPNs, not because of the amount of customers or 5* ratings. But because of privatized and custom solutions. An example is custom configured VPNs only ever found in businesses, which are also operated and maintained by ‘in-house’ engineers. – These are not available to consumers and never have been. Never will be.

    Regarding consumers and net neutrality, the internet is a public domain, again, think about that. Also – ‘net neutrality’ is never going to happen, ever. Why? Because your data is always routed through an ISP.

    Off-topic, Tor is also somewhat a honeypot. The only reason military made that protocol was apparently “secure anonymous communication”, that was in the 90’s and funded by the public. But who organized this operation? The NSA and affiliates…….. Wow, it is open source and been completely rebuilt so we should trust it??? You people would trust anything on the internet lol.

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