Shill meaning explored – Don’t get duped ever again

What do shills have to do with you?

You might not think that shills exist, but they do. They can be annoying and make it difficult for you to get on with your day. The best way to avoid getting duped is by knowing how shill behavior manifests.

Out-of-control shilling leads naive consumers to purchase a low-quality or faulty product that can be dangerous for health and economic reasons.

Shill Definition:

In reality, a shill is somebody who publicly praises or promotes someone or something but works covertly on their behalf. A celebrity shill will make public appearances on behalf of a company endorsing the product while acting like it is not paying them.

A shill can also be an enthusiastic party to a financial scheme, and the more people who get sucked into it, the better for the instigator.

Shill Definition and Behaviors

  • pretending to be a customer who has purchased an item or used a service
  • posting negative reviews about competitors
  • deliberately promoting low prices for products or services
  • defending shills, even when you show proof that they are shills
  • posting on forums to get a discussion going about unrelated topics, so shill posts appear more genuine. This is called “forum sliding,” and it’s another way shills can try to trick you into buying something

Shill definition of law

For example, in the UK, marketers are required to state that they have received undisclosed payments or inducements to endorse a product.

  • The act of covertly using undisclosed shills (also called stealth marketing) occurs more regularly than most people realize.
  • The term “shill” comes from the carnival world, where it means an employee whose job consists of supporting or promoting another worker’s performance.

Shilling in this context means literally “the promotion of a real-life performer by someone who poses as an enthusiastic customer.”

What are Examples of Shills?

A shill (or “plant”) is often an employee who manufactures or sells a product, who makes public appearances at a trade show and similar events. They represent the company and praise its products directly to its customers.

They get portrayed as having expertise in the company’s area. A professional shill’s actions are part of a broader strategy known as type riding, i.e., misrepresenting oneself as an ordinary person when participating in online fora.

The canard or “shill” appears in stage magic, especially the three-card monte routine. A shill pretends to be an audience member like any other.

Still, it secretly plays a part in the trick, often pretending to trip up the magician with his cane while performing a scheme so that it would appear self-working and thereby more amazing.

What is the slang definition of shill?

The slang term “shill” also refers to an evil person who publicly helps, supports, or defends someone with vested interests in an attempt to legitimize them, knowing is wrong. The word shill got popularized by the movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

A “shill” can also be someone who knowingly spreads incorrect information about an unsavory topic, event, or product for self-serving reasons. The person doing this is known as a “shill,” often in internet slang.

Definition of different Types of Shills

The media shill carries with it connotations of covert support but has no inherent connection to whether the support is ethical or not. It simply refers to one who supports something without disclosing their affiliation to the supportive group.

Manufacturers hire industry shills to tout their products online at sites like, eBay, Home Shopping Network, or other sites that accept reviews. Shills are often paid bonuses for each sale that they successfully generate.

The third type of shill is a person who replies solely to reveal the identity of the original poster (or “OP”) to suggest any endorsement or approval of whatever the message said.

What are Shill Sites?

These are websites set up by actors posing as typical customers who post fake reviews about specific products that only exist to support their clients.

It’s unclear how much of this illegal practice unless these companies agree with retailers who would be considered collusion.

  • There have been class-action lawsuits filed against some of these companies because the practices violate consumer protection laws in different countries.
  • This led to Google changing its policies in 2015 to forbid incentivized reviews (unless they are facilitated through the Google Trusted Store Program).


Many people and companies are getting scammed by shills, which is why it’s essential to know how to recognize them. We have compiled a list of tips you should know to avoid getting duped!

They include:

  • if they’re promoting products for free or cheaply
  • if the person claiming to be an expert has no credentials
  • if they only mention one product

If any of these warning signs ring true, take caution before investing in their offer because there could very well be something fishy going on.


Viable Outreach

© Viable Media, LLC