85 Reading: Fraud in Marketing

Fraud is the deliberate deception of someone else with the intent of causing damage. The damage need not be physical damage—in fact, it is often financial.[1]

When we consider the elements of the marketing mix—product, price, promotion, and distribution—there are opportunities for deception in each area.

The Marketing Mix 1. Target Market is surrounded by the four P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.

Product: Is the product designed and manufactured as the customer would expect, given the other elements of the marketing mix? Is the customer warned about the product’s limitations or uses that are not recommended?

Price: Is the total price of the product fairly presented to the customer? Is the price charged for the product the same as the price posted or advertised?  Has something been marketed as “free”? Does the company disclose information about finance charges?

Promotion: Can claims made to consumers be substantiated? Are disclaimers clear and conspicuous? For products marketed to children, is extra care taken to accurately represent the product?

Place (Distribution): Does the distribution channel deliver the product at the price and quality promised? Do other companies in the distribution channel (wholesalers, retailers) perform as promised and deliver on expectations set for product, price, and promotions?

Marketing Fraud

From a marketer’s point of view, the story demonstrates a number of different types of fraud, which had devastating consequences for both shareholders and stakeholders. Deliberate deception was part of the company’s strategy, and it played a dominant role in all aspects of marketing. Here are the top 10 fraud scams in 2016 as recorded by Bloomberg.


Fake Celebrity Endorsement Advertising Scams
Fake Celebrity Endorsement Advertising Scams

The #10 fraudulent scheme in 2016 is when “Consumers are often enticed to purchase a product or service based on reviews by social media influencers. Unfortunately, these reviews may not be genuine and the influencer may have been paid by a company to be used as a marketing tool.” [2] A series of deceptive advertisements are lying to consumers by using popular scamming technique that has reportedly netted more than $1 billion worldwide.

Watch the VIDEO: Fake online influencers in Social media steal celebrity identities to sell products

  1. Fraud. (n.d.). Cornell Law School. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fraud
  2. Canada's top 10 fraud scams in 2016. (2017, March 07). BNN Bloomberg. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/canada-s-top-10-fraud-scams-in-2016-1.685562


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Introduction to Marketing - MKTG 3433 Copyright © 2022 by WCOB Marketing Faculty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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