Not that you didn’t already know that. But the Securities and Exchange Commission put up a warning this week about auto-surfing websites.

As the SEC says, “Auto-surfing is a form of online advertising that purportedly generates advertising revenue for companies that want to increase traffic to their websites. The premise behind auto-surfing is that companies that advertise on the Internet are willing to pay to increase traffic to their websites. These companies hire an auto-surf firm or ‘host,’ which in turn pays individual web surfers to view certain websites on an automatically rotating basis. The more sites the individual visits, the more money he or she stands to earn.”

But that isn’t really what happens. What happens is that those who caught on early make money, tell a million friends, and then get out. Those who are left in at the end, particularly who join in the last couple of weeks, get screwed.

In the case of, which may be the biggest auto-surfing scam yet, 300,000+ people got bilked out of millions of bucks. The head of took $1.9 million out of the kitty to line her own pockets. The site was still running when I last checked, but I’m not sure anyone is getting anything from it.

I’ve heard from folks who aren’t upset — they made good money while they could even if they can’t get their last payment. But the folks who get into a Ponzi or pyramid scheme early ALWAYS make money. If they didn’t make money, they would tell ten friends, and they wouldn’t tell ten friends, and so on.

Going forward, someone will come up with some new way to make millions at home without doing anything. And they’ll ask you to pay for the privilege. The SEC warns people to beware of this line: “The more you click, the more you’ll collect.” If someone is promising you big bucks for doing nothing, it sounds WAY too good to be true.

Just remember the following (1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (2) Check out the company before you invest. (3) Steer clear of testimonials from supposedly satisfied customers. (4) No returns are guaranteed. (5) If someone legitimate wants to hire you to do something from home, they’re not going to ask you to pay big bucks upfront.

March 2, 2006