13 Unethical and Potentially Illegal Ways to Make Money Online

In today’s digital age, making money online has become easier than ever before. With the rise of the internet and the increasing demand for online services, there are a plethora of opportunities available to those looking to earn a living online.

However, not all methods of making money online are ethical or legal. While some methods may seem tempting, it’s important to conduct business with integrity and honesty.

In this article, we will explore the many different ways to make money online, with a particular focus on ethical methods. We will also discuss why ethical practices are always better for long-term business and success.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to make money online in a way that aligns with your values and offers value to others.

13 Unethical Ways to Make Money Online

As much as we would like to believe that all methods of making money online are ethical and legal, unfortunately, this is not always the case. While the internet has opened up a world of opportunities for entrepreneurs and freelancers, it has also given rise to a number of unethical practices that are designed to deceive and exploit others.

From scams and spamming to phishing and cyberbullying, there are many ways in which people can use the internet to make money unethically. Below, you will find a list of some of the most common unethical ways to make money online.


Scams are fraudulent schemes or products that deceive people and take their money. Examples of scams include pyramid schemes, fake investment opportunities, and phishing scams.

2. Spamming

Spamming is the practice of sending unsolicited messages or emails to people with the intention of promoting products or services. This can include email spam, social media spam, or comment spam.

3. Clickbait

Clickbait is the practice of creating misleading or sensational headlines to attract clicks and generate traffic to a website or social media account. Clickbait often leads to low-quality content or scams.

4. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of copying content from others without permission or proper attribution. This can include copying text, images, or videos from other websites or social media accounts.

5. Black-hat SEO

Black-hat SEO is the use of unethical tactics to manipulate search engine rankings. Examples include keyword stuffing, link schemes, and cloaking.

6. Fake reviews

Fake reviews are positive reviews that are posted without actually using the product or service. This can include paying others to post fake reviews or using fake accounts to post positive reviews.

7. Data mining

Data mining is the practice of collecting personal information from people without their consent or using it for unethical purposes. This can include selling personal information to third parties or using it to target people with ads.

8. Pyramid schemes

Pyramid schemes are business models that require participants to recruit others in order to make money, without offering a legitimate product or service. Pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries.

9. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of social media or other online platforms to harass or intimidate others for personal gain. Cyberbullying can have serious consequences for victims and can lead to legal action.

10. Illegal activities

Engaging in illegal activities online, such as selling illegal drugs or weapons, is not only unethical but also illegal and can lead to legal consequences.

11. Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by posing as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. These scams can be carried out through email, social media, or other online platforms.

12. Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes are fraudulent investment schemes that promise high returns with little or no risk to investors. These schemes rely on new investors to pay returns to earlier investors, rather than generating profits through legitimate business activities.

13. Malware Distribution

Malware distribution involves the distribution of malicious software, such as viruses, worms, or Trojans, with the intention of causing harm to computer systems or stealing sensitive information. Malware can be distributed through email attachments, infected websites, or other online channels.

It’s important to remember that engaging in these unethical practices can not only harm others but can also lead to legal consequences. Instead, focus on ethical ways to make money online that align with your values and offer value to others.

While some individuals might be able to find short-term financial results with each of these methods, they do come with risks involved — and we stress that it’s important to avoid them.

10 Ethical Ways to Make Money Online

10 Ethical Ways to Make Money Online

On the flip side, making money online has become easier than ever before, with a wide range of opportunities available to people with different skills and interests. In fact, many teenagers are making money online, as they can get started on their own and learn along the way.

Here are 10 ethical ways to make money online:

1. Freelancing

Freelancing is a great way to make money online by offering your skills and services to clients around the world. Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer allow you to create a profile, showcase your portfolio, and bid on projects that match your skills and expertise. You can offer services such as writing, graphic design, web development, social media management, and more.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a popular way to make money online by promoting products or services and earning a commission for every sale made through your unique affiliate link. You can sign up for affiliate programs through platforms like Amazon Associates, ShareASale, or Commission Junction and promote products on your website, blog, or social media accounts.

3. Online Tutoring

If you have expertise in a particular subject, you can make money online by teaching others through online tutoring platforms like Chegg, TutorMe, or VIPKid. You can set your own schedule and work with students from around the world.

4. Blogging

Blogging is a great way to make money online by creating content that attracts an audience and monetizing it through advertising, sponsored content, or affiliate marketing. You can start a blog on any topic that you are passionate about and build a loyal following over time.

5. E-commerce

Selling products online through your own website or platforms like Amazon, Etsy, or Shopify is a great way to make money online. You can sell physical products or digital products like e-books, courses, or templates.

6. Online Surveys

Participating in paid online surveys through websites like Swagbucks or Survey Junkie is a simple way to make money online. You can earn cash or gift cards by answering questions about your interests and opinions.

7. Social Media Management

Managing social media accounts for businesses is a great way to make money online if you have experience in social media marketing. You can offer your services to businesses that want to grow their social media presence and earn a fee for your services.

8. Digital Product Creation

Creating and selling digital products like e-books, courses, or templates is a great way to make money online if you have expertise in a particular area. You can create products that help people solve a problem or learn a new skill and sell them through platforms like Gumroad or Teachable.

9. Virtual Event Planning

Planning and managing virtual events like webinars or conferences for businesses is a growing industry that offers opportunities to make money online. You can help businesses create engaging virtual events that attract attendees and earn a fee for your services.

10. App Development

Developing and selling mobile apps for iOS or Android devices is a lucrative way to make money online if you have experience in app development. You can create apps that solve a problem or provide entertainment and sell them through app stores like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that the choices we make in our pursuit of making money online can have significant consequences for ourselves and others. While unethical practices may seem tempting in the short term, they can lead to long-term damage to your reputation and legal consequences. On the other hand, ethical practices not only offer a sustainable income but also provide value to others and help to build a positive reputation.

If you’re looking to get started with making money online in an ethical and legitimate way, here’s a simple 5-step plan to help you get started:

  1. Identify your skills and interests: Consider your skills and expertise that could be monetized online. This could be anything from writing and graphic design to web development and social media management.
  2. Research your niche: Once you’ve identified your skills and interests, research your niche to find out what opportunities are available and what the competition looks like.
  3. Build your online presence: Create a website or social media accounts that showcase your skills and expertise. This will help you build a following and attract potential clients or customers.
  4. Offer value to others: Whether you’re freelancing, selling products, or offering services, always focus on providing value to others. This will help you build a positive reputation and attract repeat business.
  5. Stay up-to-date: The online business world is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Attend webinars, read blogs, and network with others in your industry to stay ahead of the curve.

By following these simple steps and conducting business with integrity and honesty, you can build a successful and fulfilling career making money online. Remember, the key to success is to focus on providing value to others while also staying true to your values and principles.