Feb 14, 2014

Fanbox mail scam: Watch out for automatic debit from your bank, PayPal account

The Fanbox email scam which was reported by Moneylife earlier, is turning more dangerous as some users have found their bank account linked with PayPal shrinking automatically

The Fanbox email scam, which Moneylife reported on 20 March 2013, is turning out to be more dangerous and harmful for those who have linked their bank and PayPal accounts with Fanbox. Some users have reported that their bank accounts have been automatically debited by Fanbox through the link to their PayPal account. Moneylife received comments from those who saw their bank account shrink. One such person lamented and said, “They (Fanbox) are debiting money from my account in regular interval automatically. Till now they have charged $28”. Another person saw as much as $100 being debited to Fanbox. The age of internet banking has made it easier for users to be looted.

Moneylife had earlier written about the Fanbox email scam, which is basically a phishing attempt to get users’ details to disclose private details such as email and phone numbers and even their entire contact list as well, as well as pay monthly fees. Fanbox sends email which claims that recipient has won some money and that a processing fee needs to be paid to claim it. It asks for a ‘processing fee’, for an account that may not even exist, by linking a user’s bank account online to Fanbox account so that they can collect their “earnings”. Fanbox charges users for a promised payout in the future. Users’ either pay manually or online. It is the online mode which is worrisome, as it is automated, which resulted in some users complaining that they are being debited by Fanbox.

Refer to the Fanbox emailer below…


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 (LINK REMOVED) 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”

Users have to keep paying a “processing fee” at regular intervals i.e. monthly. For this purpose, Fanbox asks users to connect and authorise their bank account via PayPal to automate and automatically debit at regular intervals for “Automatic Account Protection”. All it takes a single click. Authorising Fanbox to access your account works similar to how you authorise Twitter or Facebook to connect to each other or a third-party app. The whole idea to authorise Fanbox to debit your account is so that you don’t miss a payment and at same time “protect” your Fanbox account from being deactivated.

Yet, linking your bank account to a third party can be very dangerous. Authorizing PayPal to debit a user’s bank account on behalf of Fanbox means that users’ bank account will get debited automatically, because Fanbox not only has access to your bank account, but can debit automatically too, often without users knowing about it.

However, if users miss a payment, their Fanbox account will be locked up. One user in a forum said, “In the event you will not able to pay the monthly due, they (Fanbox) will deactivate your account. You can't get back everything you spent before and all that you have invested.” Some have even complained that there is nothing in for users. One user has also complained, in a forum, that Fanbox keeps changing the rules. She said, “They change rules every month and the members ending up earn nothing at all”. Fanbox clearly smells fishy.

Fanbox is run by SMS.ac, a dubious company that claims to be an online community which exists via text messaging only. Apparently, SMS.ac has been penalised in the past for misleading information without giving price information by the regulator in UK. The full details can be accessed here. It is a surprise that it is continuing in a different avatar. In another instance, some employees of Fanbox alleged that they were not paid in full.

For those who have authorised Fanbox to debit their bank account through Paypal, this website will show how to deactivate the link and stop the automated debits. In the age of internet banking, authorising third party applications to access your bank account is strongly not recommended, even if it makes your life more convenient and easier. Similarly, if you have authorised your Fanbox to use your debit or credit card, it is best to remove it. Another site shows how to remove credit card information.

In future, if you get any spam or suspicious looking email claiming you have won something or have something unclaimed, it is best advised to filter and delete it right away. Moreover, never link your bank account or credit/debit card online to any third party, even if the site is credible. As for Fanbox, it is best you stay away from it, no matter what their claims are.


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