Fanbox Spam Turns Into Costly Scam

Written by Sue Walsh on July 19, 2013

Fanbox-LogoWay back in 2009, I wrote about how Fanbox.com was promoting itself through spam and using members personal info to do it. It tricks members into giving up their cell phone number and email username and password, then spams the heck out of them and everyone in their address book. The site bills itself as “the world’s first spam-free email service” (oh the irony!) and also claims to offer members a blogging service.

It’s all a scam, and when I wrote about it four years ago we were flooded with comments from angry members who had been duped. Now it seems the site has graduated from spam to phishing.  People are receiving emails inviting them to join the site’s “I’ll Pay Later” program, which claims to allow them to advertise their blog, product or service and earn now while paying later. Don’t have a blog, product or service? No problem, according to Fanbox. You can get a cut of the profits from other people’s sales and pay later. They call this “boosting” but it’s more like BS. What they want you to “pay later” are processing fees-fees for money they say you’ve earned through the program. However these emails are going out to both members and people who’ve never even heard of Fanbox, much less signed up for the program.

The emails tell people they’ve earned hundreds of dollars and can claim them by paying the fee, which is usually $5-$6. They go on to say a $10 late fee will be tacked on if payment isn’t received on time and your account will be shut down. Here’s a sample of their spam:

 “Hi, 

As of Nov. 7, 2012, you had utilized $371.58 of your “I’ll Pay Later” funds, and have earned $309.91 since you started utilizing IPL. Your October processing fee of $5.69 became due on Nov. 12, 2012. You’ll want to pay your processing fee immediately to protect your account and money. Please note that if your processing fee has not been paid by Nov. 22, 2012, a late fee will be added to your processing fee.

Amount due if paid before Nov. 22, 2012: $5.69

Amount due if paid on or after Nov. 22, 2012: $15.69

Did you know? You can avoid manual payments and late fees, and protect your earnings, by setting up Automatic Account Protection. It’s a free service!”

Regards,

The FanBox Account Protection Team”

Gullible people who fall for it are encouraged to set up automatic payments to pay those processing fees, and that’s where the scam gets really bad. Once someone has fallen for it and foolishly linked their Paypal account to their Fanbox account, Fanbox starts helping itself to their money. Users are reporting repeated debits in amounts ranging from $28 to over $100. It’s outright theft.

Fanbox is a site to be avoided at all costs. If you are a member, consider closing your account,  ignore any emails telling you you need to pay a processing fee and don’t ever give them your financial information. If you aren’t a member and are receiving these emails, report them as spam to your ISP.  As I mentioned in my previous post about them. Fanbox is run by the former SMS.ac, a shady company that claims to be an online community that exists via text messaging only. It’s been the subject of many user complaints regarding deceptive billing practices and was fined and banned from operating reverse-billed services in the UK for operating misleading SMS services. They then turned to the web and email spam, and now they’ve stepped into the phishing arena. What’s next for this scammy company? We’ll keep you posted.

Comments

Maria Ortiz July 20, 2013

Maybe this is kind of offtopic but since you mentioned they wanted a phone number at registration, I want to say that I personally find this disturbing and I hope it hasn’t become a trend. I am totally pissed off when a site wants my birthdate as a mandatory field (and of course I don’t put the real date and year) but a phone number is way too much. I guess they are fed up with fake emails at registration and this is why they are after the phone number. After all, not many users have a separate phone number for spam, so unless you give a fake number but in this case you can’t receive the verification code, for example, when they get your phone number, they most likely get a way to contact you.

Joe July 30, 2013

So it was really spam. I’m quite wary about anything that requires me to do something straight from my inbox, so when I received “messages” from friends about Fanbox, I deleted them right away. I’m glad I did. I still want to do things my way, you know, sign up in the website and then subscribe to receive mails.

Claude July 30, 2013

This is quite scary since Fanbox appears harmless. I had a Fanbox account but I immediately deleted it after reading this post. I do not really have a need for it, anyway. I just signed up because my friends invited me to.

The minute you open Fanbox, you will be bombarded by a lot of updates or posts that claim “this or that friend earned this amount of dollars today”. It all sounds suspicious. You don’t really need to do something, just click some and then you get to earn extra dollars? Scary! I need to let my friends know about this.

Charl #2 August 19, 2013

Thanks… I shall tell a friend of mine who wants a second opinion about the site…

Hype September 10, 2013

Great post Sue. I was a FanBox member, but no more. I was not comfortable with their set up for making money off their members. If someone gets into IPL (I’ll Pay Later) it’s really a no-win situation (well, FanBox wins). After the fees, penalties, power user monthly payments, waiting 90 days for maturation, weird rule changes mid-stream….
Here’s another review : http://threeamart.hubpages.com/hub/FanBoxcom-a-Real-Review-About-the-Scam-and-the-Spam

toh bi November 27, 2013

hello i thank you very much for this informative post about Fanbox i worked there it’s a real scam they owe me 4500 dollar but they did not give me my money as i was everyday claiming my money to them they were oblige to cancel my account. then asked me to create another account so that i work again with them what i have refused, i said them that you just show me how fanbox is a scam im not crazy again to waste my time creating post to make you rich. i invite every new users who just start with them please dont waste your time they wont never give you a penny of dollar that only a virtual money be aware to avoid johny cash and his ganster here is the message they sent to me two month before they cancel my account: April 21 you earned $14.48 (Your FanBox homepage)
All-time earnings: $3,050.81

Les Smith February 5, 2014

I think that this convoluted site is designed to confuse, encourage people to believe that their virtual money bank is real. I made a payment to them which firstly disappeared, then remained dormant and was not used for the purpose I intended. After many in house requests as to where the money was and when was it going to be used for the purpose intended I lost patience and opened a first stage dispute (negotiation) through PayPal. The messages I received regarding this from fanbox had implied and actual threats of closure of my account if I did not withdraw the dispute. The messages also told me that the payback of monies would cost fanbox a lot of money which would be charged to me. This was from the fanbox President Brian Woolsy. I immediately escalated my dispute with fanbox to a claim through paypal which is currently open. I reiterate what people have commented above and would advise people not to open an account with this organisation, which in my view does not show its members true accounting and in my opinion amounts to maladministration of a members account by either ignoring their questions or sidetracking.

I think fanbox ignores the fact that its members are customers, interestingly they do not have a Customer Relations Department. Beware!

Shashank March 26, 2014

Fanbox is not scam i am using fanbox 4 4 years and its paying me out. if fanbox was scam paypal wouldnt give authority to it for their payment procceror, u r straight wrong

Hery April 7, 2014

Thank you very much, your posting helpfull, cause I get this FANBOX today..

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