Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fraud Alert on

Today we take a break from silicon2tanana reportage and baby elephants to report something sketchy going on at, the race registration site. The last time I used was to register for the Equinox Marathon in 2009, about a year ago. This July, I noticed some unauthorized charges on my credit card. One was from a foreign company I had never dealt with, and the other was from Active. When I called my credit card company, they removed those two charges, forwarded them to the fraud department, canceled my card, and sent me a new one.

I thought it was over at that, but today I got a letter from my bank informing me that since I had used in the past, this is not a 'fraud' issue, but rather a 'charge dispute' issue, and that I should follow up with and ask them to remove the charge. This chapped my ass. So the person who stole my card number happened to use it at a vendor that I had happened to use before. That makes it not fraud, how? Nevertheless, I could see that I would accomplish nothing in this telephone conversation, so I politely let it go and called the numbers provided by

There are two, and both of them ring several times and then disconnect. Around this time, I started simultaneously googling around and venting to BT via IM. BT somehow found me a third phone number for them, which was live. The recording actually had an option, "for credit card complaints, press 2," so I pressed 2, and... got disconnected!

Simultaneously, my googling turned up this. Apparently, has a sketchy history of deceptively registering people who sign up for races for an "membership", and charging an annual fee of $59.95. Which is the exact amount I was charged. They then continue to charge their victims this annual fee, and don't provide a way to cancel your unrequested "membership". When victims call their banks, presumably they are given the same runaround I was given by my bank: "Since you have a purchasing history with this vendor, we cannot call it a fraudulent charge."

How perfect for those slimy, skeevy, sketchy bastards!

Two things are even sketchier in my particular case. Firstly, it had been a year since I used, so they are definitely digging deep to catch victims unawares. Secondly, there was that other fraudulent and foreign transaction charged to my card that same month. I suspect someone at is checking to see whether victims read their statements carefully and catch the small charges first. If they get no reaction, and the card isn't canceled, they forge ahead and buy themselves some sort of jackpot!

So we have here a double scam: sketchily and fraudulently charging people $59.95 a month for "membership" that gives the appearance of legitimacy (I could see saying to myself, "Oh, crap, I guess when I registered for that race, I accidentally signed up for membership as well!"). But they also, probably at random and much less frequently, outright make overtly fraudulent purchases on their victims' cards.

On BT's advice, I wrote several letters and sent them via certified snail-mail to and also my bank. If they still won't reverse the charge, the most I stand to lose is that $59.95, since that card is now canceled, and doesn't have any more information on me, thank goodness! $59.95 is a relatively small payment for tuition in the school of life.

Here is a link to their parent site, The Active Network, with a list of all of the companies they manage. Beware! I'm going to noodle over this for a while, and once my anger has calmed down, I'll think about what to do from here. Minimum, I think a letter to the editor of the News Miner is in order, as well as one to our local "Outdoors" columnist, Tim Mowry.

Edited to add: Here I found a link to another person who was a victim of their outright fraud instead of the deceptive registration that seems more common

Edited to add: On the 20th Sept, I see that Active has returned my money. Onto the next victim; let's see if they notice!

Edited again to add: Nope. It was Bank of America who reversed the charge. Active is still quite comfortable with having stolen from me.


Max R. said...

Hmmm.... I'd also say your bank is lame. I've "disputed charges" on my card and regarless of my history with the vendor they seem to be able to take care of the issue without me following up with the vendor. Basically a claim of a charge with out delievery of service is enough...

Also if your talking to a Customer Service agent and they are being useless or say that you have to do such and such. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS escalate the call aka ask to speak to thier Manager. More often than not when they say it can't be done it means they don't have the ability to do it, but thier boss does. Usually one Escalation is enough, but don't be afraid to try to continue to escalate it. Some companies have several layers of CS.

mdr said...

When you said "the bank" meaning the bank issued your credit card, NOT your checking account bank, right?

You will call the credit card bank and ask for a copy of that fraugelent charge, the bank has to produce some proof.

This isn't uncommon. People sign on for free credit report, it is free but you also agree to pay a monthly fee if you don't cancel after 7 days etc..
All in the FINE PRINT.

Even doctors double charge insurance companies if you have two insurance policies (happened to CH)

One doctor whom I haven't see for 5 years charged my insurance. He was not a good doctor and I wouldn't see him anyway. I notified my insurance and they said the doctor said they made a mistake.

mdr said...

Pleasanton Office (Clubspaces)
4234 Hacienda Blvd., Suite 206
Pleasanton, CA 94568
Contact: Melissa Oyler
Phone: 877-908-4400

A toll free number I found from website, you can tell them you will contact the Better Business Bureau unless they refund your money.

Arvay said...

Mudder, I already took steps with both the credit card bank and with, following advice of a very fine lawyer I know. :)

Yes, I understand that with the other victims, it's probably legal (although still deceptive) because they signed up for membership in the fine print, but in my case, it clearly was not even that. It is outright fraud.

I. Will. Not. Pay. This. I'm a fine writer and have the advice of a fine lawyer, and I'll put up a good fight.

Anonymous said...


I am's consumer support Supervisor. This post was recently brought to my attention. The Active Advantage membership you signed up for is indeed backed by a money-back guarantee. In order to cancel all you will need to do is contact us at 1-877-228-4881, or you can e-mail us at

I certainly do apologize for the inconvenience.

Active Consumer Support

Arvay said...

Hello Active Consumer Support,

Thank you for contacting me. However, as mentioned, when I call that number, it disconnects me after ringing several times. In good faith, I just now called it again and got a busy signal.

I did not at any point sign up for Active Advantage membership. I've come to realize that many people do so accidentally because they miss the fine print when registering for a race. However, I have not registered for anything via Active in a year, so there is no way I could have signed up for membership. Again, I am absolutely positive that I did not miss the fine print as others have done. I absolutely, positively, never signed up for Active Advantage Membership.

I have sent you a request to cancel my "membership" via US Postal Service. Upon receipt of this letter, you will reverse the fraudulent charge of $59.95. You cannot charge me any more since my card is canceled, and I will never sign up for anything else via

Again, thank you for contacting me. I will await notice from my credit card company that you have reversed the charge.

Mike said...

Yeah it's a shame that scam artists like pull the shady yet unfortunately legal practice of subtly signing people up for memberships they don't want. The PR guy will come up with some spin line typed up 10 years ago to say that they're legit and offer people blah blah services. But they themselves would be up in arms if this stuff happened to them. Well all we have is karma then... may the tires of their cars be flat when they go out to the parking lot today.

Arvay said...

Okay, but again, I. Did. Not. Sign. Up. For. That. Service. Not accidentally, not inadvertently, not as a victim of oversight or deceit or not reading the fine print. I. Did. Not. Sign. Up.

My card was charged NOT when I registered for a race, but out of the clear blue sky a full year later.

I am NOT a victim of their deceptive registration process. I am a victim of their point-blank fraud. That is far worse and definitely illegal!

Rena said...

I'm really dismayed that Visa did not swoop in and clean everything up properly.
Dunno if you subscribe to a credit reporting thingie, but I wonder if it is worth checking if issuing a complaint, reversing charges, replacing your card affected your credit score?

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in the running community there has to be a lawyer who will be ticked off enough to hit the slimeballs with a class action suit for deceptive practices, fraud, theft and conspiracy to commit fraud. Important to keep this going until someone, somewhere takes notice and nails their bums to a fence somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Just got my cc number stolen after using their site to signup for an arts class. This card is never used so I know it links backed to them.

Anonymous said...

And I just got MY credit card number stolen by them after signing up for a class. Told my credit card co. and they opened a fraud file.

Anonymous said...

This scam is still ongoing by I ran a 5k race and two months later they charged my credit card $64.95. I did not sign up for any membership. And they did not send any email telling me they were charging me. They are just stealing money and when they get caught they so give the money back. Someone needs to go to jail over there. It is NOT legal and does not meet acceptable use policies but in place by the credit card companies. Do not ever give your credit card information.

Anonymous said...

On 12/29/2014 I checked my MasterCard billing online and there was this PENDING transaction posted 12/27/2014. What a conincidence I thought that on the day of the POSTED transaction I took my family to the Wirth Winter Recreation Area in Minneapolis where our family rented snowshoes. This MasterCard billing was listed as:

12/27/2014 PENDING ACT*REGISTRATION CA 877-228-4881 *** $25.74

So I called the 877 number and sat there monitoriing my call for over 40 minutes as a recording for this Active Advantage site repeated itself endlessly before I decided it best to just hang up. That made me supspicious so called MasterCard but they couldn't do anything about it until the charge posted so we'll see how this plays out in the next few days. I called the suspected vendor who rented snowshoes to me and they verified Active Advantage is the service who charged my bill. I don't like the way charge reads on my MascterCard's billing description so I'm not sleeping easy tonight. I rented equipment. That shouldn't be confused with the vague description "register". I don't want to find out down the road another charge was made without my noticing. I'm awaiting a written letter in response from Active Advantage telling me exactly what type of service I was billed for. We'll see.