Elaine Currie Get Paid To Autosurf programs once offered an easy way of making money on the Internet. The surf for cash programs boomed during the year 2005. The golden era of the get paid to surf programs is over and the next money making Internet craze is bound to be just over the horizon. Autosurfing started out as a means of Internet advertising. You would sign up to a surfing website and, in return for you viewing websites belonging to other members, you would receive credits entitling you to have your website viewed by other members. Actually, you didn’t even have to watch the sites: as long as they kept loading, you would earn your credits even if you went away to make coffee or feed the dog. In late 2003, Studio Traffic, the biggest and longest running get paid to autosurf site was launched. In addition to autosurfing to advertise your website, Studio Traffic offered you the opportunity to pay for upgraded membership which would entitle you to earn 1% of the upgrade fee every day for a full year. For each day that you surfed at least 100 websites, you would earn your 1% and you would get paid at the end of each month. The rapid growth of Studio Traffic encouraged other entrepreneurs to set up similar get paid to surf sites and the programs were extremely popular.
By December 2004 there were about 40 get paid to surf programs running. These programs mostly offered members a return of 1% daily but there were a few sites paying 2% and even up to 5%. Then a company called 12 Daily Pro opened and offered a previously unheard of 12% daily return. Nobody really expected 12 Daily to survive for more than a few weeks but it did and as time went on it showed no signs of weakening. The success of 12 Daily Pro caused many people to take up autosurfing purely as a way of making money. By mid 2005 hardly any surfers really cared about advertising on autosurf for cash sites, all they wanted was to get paid. 12 Daily’s success made easy for new companies to convince people they could sustain unrealistically high returns. By early 2006 there were over 370 autosurf for cash programs and most of them were offering a return of more than 2% daily. There were companies offering outrageous returns of 24% and even 55%. In February 2006 came what has become known as «the storm» when a payment processing company called Stormpay destroyed 12 Daily Pro and ended the autosurf for cash boom. The details of the storm are well documented, so I won’t repeat them here. The broad outline is that Stormpay insisted the surf for cash companies must move all their cash over to Stormpay immediately and use it as their only payment processor. Once they had all the money, Stormpay blocked all the accounts so none of the surf companies could access their accounts to pay their members. Then Stormpay (after earning many thousands of dollars from transaction charges) called in the SEC and claimed the autosurf for cash companies were in breach of SEC regulations. There are more questions than answers about the storm.
Some of the top unanswered questions are: «Was Stormpay secretly bankrupt and created this mess to hide the fact?» and «If the autosurf companies were acting illegally, why did Stormpay insist on taking over all their transactions instead of distancing itself from them?».
The very top question is still «What happened to all the millions of dollars Stormpay took from surfers?».
Stormpay is no longer a licensed payment processor. A handful of honest surf for cash companies survived the storm but they had to struggle hard to keep going. At the same time, new get paid to surf sites were being opened just about weekly and closing down just as regularly. Some of these companies failed through poor management but many were outright scams on the part of owners who scooped up as much cash as possible in a short time and then did a vanishing act. Surfing for cash was an easy way to earn money on the Internet. There was always a degree of risk in surfing for cash: a return on your money was never guaranteed and there were a few crooks running dubious surf sites but, in the end, it was human greed that killed the industry. If people had been less greedy and a little more prudent in their investments, the cash would not have been drawn away from the more sustainable 1% and 2% paying autosurfs, 12 Daily Pro would not have found such fantastic success, Stormpay would not have been able to grab millions of dollars from surfers and surfing for cash would still represent a small branch of Internet advertising. When the next easy money craze comes into view, will people remember «the storm» and exercise caution? Unless there has been a dramatic change in human nature, the answer is no and hoards of desperate ex-surfers will be paddling out to meet it.