Last year I described how a friend is avoiding the monthly fee on his Chase checking account
by having a monthly ACH transfer from an internet bank into his Chase checking account. My friend says that Chase continues to count this ACH as a direct deposit which allows the checking account to be free of monthly fees.
Using ACH transfers to fake direct deposit was recently described in this US News My Money article
. As the article says, it can be useful to freelancers who can't receive a payroll direct deposit and want to maintain a free checking account at a big bank. One thing the article didn't mention is that it can also be useful in qualifying for new-account bonuses which often require direct deposit.
The success of fake direct deposits can be a "your miles may vary" (YMMV) situation. This giant thread at Fatwallet
keeps track of which banks will count ACH transfers as direct deposit.