Way 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:
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!”
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.