Spam never stopped working. The individual tactics from 10-15 years ago might have changed but the general concepts are still the same. Its just much harder to earn enough money before Google catches up and gives your site a beatdown so fewer people take that path.
If you have a site with big enough quality signals you can often get away with it longer at least until you get outed. Some of the different groups in Google (like Adwords & Chrome) have even been implicated in spammy techniques.