What Is Cookie Stuffing & How It Can Land You In Jail

I came across a story that could shock the affiliate out of you. I would share the story with you in a while. It is related to cookier stuffing therefore let us clarify what does that mean.

Cookie stuffing is also called cookie dropping. Cookie stuffing or cookie dropping is said to occur when a user visits a website and as a result of that visit receives a third-party cookie from an entirely different website (target affiliate website), usually without the user being aware of it.

If and when the user visits the target website and completes a transaction like making a purchase or subscription, the cookie stuffer is paid a commission.

How Cookie Stuffing Is Different From Normal Affiliate marketing?

In affiliate marketing the user receives a cookie when he clicks on a link. This is considered normal practice and is how affiliate marketers generate genuine income.

By definition, cookies can only be considered to be stuffed when

  • One or more is placed on a user’s computer purely as a result of
  • Viewing a page or more than one is added at a time as a result of a single click.

Is It Okay Thing To Do?


Cookie stuffing is a blackhat online marketing technique and amounts to fraud.


Because this not only has the potential to generate fraudulent affiliate income for the cookie stuffer, but may also overwrite legitimate affiliate cookies, essentially stealing the commission from another affiliate.

It is morally wrong.

Is It Illegal?


It is illegal to do cookie stuffing and one should not engage in such activities as it has potential to land you up in the jail up to 20 years.

The Story

On August 28, 2008, eBay filed a civil suit against its three affiliates alleging fraud, racketeering activity  and unauthorized access of eBay’s servers.

EBay alleges that the affiliates named engaged in “cookie stuffing”, specifically generating hidden forced clicks of their Ebay affiliate links.

Hidden forced clicks are when an affiliate link is invoked without a physical click by the end user.

After FBI investigations into the matter,  two separate indictments were handed down by a grand jury in California against theaffilaites on June 24, 2010.

On July 22, 2010,the affiliates appeared before the court and pleaded not guilty. They were released under a $100,000 property bond and surrendering their passports.

The matter is still pending  in the court.

The the maximum penalty  as per document could be

* Imprisonment of 20 years
* Maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain/loss (whichever is greater)
* 3 years of supervised release
* $100 special assessment (per count)

All involved in the affiliate marketing should be aware of this cookie stuffing and keep themselves away from the tricks which could end them possibly behind bars.

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