Affiliate Fraud Unmasked: Katy Stafford Shares Strategies and Insights

With almost 20 years of experience in the online gaming industry, Katy Stafford is a seasoned marketing professional specializing in new player acquisition, predominantly within affiliation. Katy has previously managed the affiliate programs for InterCasino, ComeOn Group and Casumo. She is currently leading the Affiliate Team at exciting new Crypto Casino Startup, HIT Gaming, creating and executing strategic plans for optimal traffic and revenue performance for their flagship brand

We caught up with her to discuss the issue of “affiliate fraud” on the blockchain….


Q. Katy, you’ve been in Affiliate Marketing for quite  a few decades. Tell us how you got started and what the highlight of your career has been thus far?

A. I started in the industry in 2005, right before UIGEA came into effect and when there were only very few localized market regulations in Europe and worldwide. I moved into affiliate marketing in 2010, and have led the affiliate departments for well known brands such as InterCasino, ComeOn Group and Casumo since then. More recently I moved to HIT Gaming, an exciting new crypto startup, and have helped launch their flagship brand,, in January this year. Looking back over nearly 20 years, it’s been a wild ride seeing affiliates grow from two-person operations into publicly listed, multi-award-winning, year-over-year growth powerhouses has been nothing short of awesome.

Q.  You must have seen a lot of “affiliate fraud” in that early time. What are some of the common fraud problems operators are facing when working with affiliates today?

A. Unfortunately, fraud is the one issue that has been and will continue to cause problems for iGaming Operators. That being said, fraud detection tools have also improved to better prevent it. The most common fraud problems we see are: Fake traffic / Bots overinflating click and registration stats, Bonus abuse or incentivised traffic, Multi-Accounting / linked accounts / VPN use all of which generally lead to CPA fraud. We have also seen a rise in affiliate impersonators on Skype and Telegram, pretending to be from tier one affiliate companies, scamming operators out of fixed listing fees. 

Q. What are some of the key things your affiliate program offers to new crypto casino affiliates looking to promote your brand?

A. Our flexibility is a key differentiator at As a small but rapidly growing team, we can quickly adapt and push things forward, whether it’s new marketing assets, exclusive bonuses, or flexible commission structures. This agility allows us to cater to the unique needs of our partners and ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.

We utilize the award-winning MyAffiliates software, providing a seamless and efficient experience for our affiliates. We’re open to numerous types of commercial deals, tailoring our partnerships to maximize value for everyone involved. Our commitment to building and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships is at the heart of all we do.

Q. Many AM’s  think fraud doesn’t exist on the blockchain because of the transparent nature of the financial transactions. Can dubious affiliates that want to earn fast CPA’s and deliver no value still defraud operators referring customers on the blockchain?

A. Yes they can. Typically it’s taking place via linked accounts within the chain. Similar to what we saw a few years ago with major e-wallets whereby players were transferring funds between accounts to register, deposit and trigger CPA’s and earn commission on the transfer to and from fees. These loopholes in the money transfer in and out of various platforms opened up opportunities for partners to game the connecting systems. We have seen trends of this in the last few months – accounts with link chain transactions, and when investigating deeper similar gaming patterns, deposit amounts, VPN usage has emerged. 

Q. What are some of the things affiliate managers should look out for in this industry? What tools can be used to monitor player activity?

A. Affiliate due-diligence upfront is the key to preventing issues further down the line. 

  1. Affiliate Vetting: Check their sites, traffic sources, ask for stats, ask industry colleagues, check company details, get social media stalking and validate your contact, never only communicate with them via skype. 
  1. Have water tight and detailed Terms and Conditions: Fraud happens, but make sure your terms cover you with clear CPA definitions as well as anti-fraud measures (no cookie stuffing, brand bidding, % ratio of chargebacks) 
  1. Conduct Regular Audits: look at traffic source and type, monitor post conversion tracking to detect and mitigate fraudulent practices.
  1. Use Fraud Detection Tools: Such as chainanalysis, ciphertrace, Seon, Geocomply or Iovation and others like Rightlander and to name just a few.
  1. Old fashioned manual sense checks: Sometimes it’s quite easy to see patterns just by investigating the depositing players – things to look for: abnormally high conversion rates, similar emails – [email protected], cumulative deposits just over the CPA trigger amount, high proportion of 1 time depositors, high proportion of VPN use, same / similar game play ie all playing the same games, same bet pattern etc. 

Q. What are your best tips for affiliate managers looking to scale their affiliate programs – how can they do so without letting affiliates intent on doing fraud IN?

A. The biggest threat we have seen for new brands launching or trying to scale is the increase of fixed fees just to get listed on an affiliates site. I completely understand why legitimate affiliates have started to request these charges, to protect themselves from smash and grab casinos, and offset loss of future earnings, but in doing so has led the way to a huge uplift in scammers. 

In these cases, as well as the usual anti fraud measures above, I would also add: 

  1. Complete your Due Diligence; traffic stats, reputation, website audits, references from other brands
  2. Offering performance based agreements; Hybrids – combine the fixed fee with performance based incentives, Conditional Fees – based various KPI’s 
  3. Pay via bank transfer upon a valid business invoice – unless it is a trusted and verifiable payment source. 
  4. Trust yourself and your gut – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 


Q. What are some of the big trends you’re seeing in the crypto space right now in relation to performance marketing trends?

A. The Crypto Casino space is seeing several key trends emerging which we are fostering and utilizing already. 

Data Driven and Personalized Marketing – Utilizing advanced analytics and big data to understand user behavior and preferences to better target and personalize campaigns. 

Influencer Marketing and Community Building – Partnering with influencers who have a strong presence in the cryptocurrency and gaming communities enables brands to reach niche audiences and provide authentic endorsements.

Significant changes in search behavior, especially amongst Gen Z users. Traditional search engines like Google are seeing a decline in favor of non-traditional platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and social media sites. 

Q. You’ll be exhibiting at the iGB Amsterdam Affiliate Conference next month – what are one of the big takeaways you’re hoping to gain at this event? How can crypto affiliates find you there ?

A. Yes, we will be exhibiting for the first time at an iGB conference. I am most looking forward to connecting with new affiliates. You can find us in Hall 11 at stand E22. Be sure to come by and say hello, perhaps win some super cool merch including custom painted Nike Air Force Ones. 

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