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Sinemia confirms canceled accounts fraudulently misused the service

By Cal Jeffrey · 18 replies
Mar 29, 2019
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  1. A few weeks ago we reported how users of the movie subscription service Sinemia took to Twitter complaining that their accounts had been unjustifiably closed. At the time, the company curtly explained that the terminations were over fraudulent activity.

    On Friday, Sinemia clarified the situation.

    “After conducting a detailed fraud and misuse detection analysis earlier this month, Sinemia has made the decision to drop a small number of user accounts for fraudulent activity and/or misuse of the service,” Sinemia claims in a statement emailed to TechSpot.

    It was initially thought that it was an automated fraud-detection system that was erroneously flagging innocent accounts. However, the company says that the canceled subscriptions were verified to have been used fraudulently. Some of the terminations were a result of customers misusing the Sinemia debit card, which is only to be used for ticket purchases.

    "The vast majority of our subscribers are using Sinemia as intended: to enjoy more affordable movie tickets as part of their individual or family plans. However, since the beginning of March, Sinemia has removed approximately 3 percent of its accounts due to misuse or fraudulent activity."

    Examples of misuse the company provided include using the Sinemia card for purchases other than movie tickets like concessions or online purchases, using multiple accounts on the same device or for one person, and not checking in at the theater before or after the movie.

    Sinemia says that the cancellations account to only about three percent of its total client base. This fraction is a much lower fraud rate than MoviePass, which claimed about 20 percent of its users were abusing the system.

    “When fraud is allowed to run rampant, it can take down an entire business, a scenario in which everyone loses,” it said. “It’s critical that all our customers use the service correctly and that we take fraud and misuse seriously. This kind of vigilance helps us combat misuse, ensuring all our customers continue to enjoy movies at affordable and sustainable prices.”

    The company also said that it notified all affected accounts explaining the reasons for the termination and issued them a prorated refund for the unused portion of their subscriptions.

    Fraudsters are always going to scream innocence, and three percent does seem like a low number for a system that is partially based on the honor system. Sinemia appears to be looking after its honest customer base in this instance. If it were just making guesses at questionable activity, it would seem the number of affected accounts would be higher.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Prof256

    Prof256 TS Rookie

    As one of the accounts cancelled, I was never told why I was cancelled beyond general "fraud". I was not issued a pro-rated refund. The fees they make you pay were put in after I signed the contract, leaving me the choice to pay the fees or just abandon my year long contract. Although some people were abusing the system, a lot of innocent people were tossed out by the automated process.
    physix, Bette, Mary Sadowski and 3 others like this.
  3. anmarlow

    anmarlow TS Rookie

    Sinemia is full of sh*t. I know people whose accounts were cancelled and they never used the service fraudulently. They did USE the service, though. Every month. So, maybe you should ask Sinemia what proof they have to back up their claims of fraud.
  4. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,394   +296

    I may be wrong but afaik, credit/debit cards marked with 'mastercard' may be used in mastercard-approved merchants.

    now, if a company has deliberately said that the debitcard card is only approved for one use only (movie theater), then I will not get it since there are lots of debitcards that are multi-purpose.
  5. Sonone4fun

    Sonone4fun TS Rookie

    Sinemia is based in Turkey. Their support services claim the cancellations were automated and support had no access on hand to reference. Sinemia is checking high usage algorithms and creating false positives to purge account projected to create loss. I called out their automated accusation and provided receipt proof and they still decline to declare the actual infraction and still canceled.
  6. lexster

    lexster TS Booster Posts: 131   +75

    Why is this a story? This company has not shown an ability to prove itself trustworthy.
    DZasia King and Pat S like this.
  7. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 371   +399

    If all the negative comments about Sinima's sleazy business practices are true, then this article TechSpot has been used as a PR tool for them, without first checking the facts.
  8. Pat S

    Pat S TS Rookie

    Don't spread their bullcrap propaganda. Myself and countless others have been cancelled while never approaching fraud. They're canceling people who are costing them money by using their account the maximum amount of times. Not too many, the max amount paid for. This is a complete and dispicable lie to bash the people complaining about their absurd customer service.
  9. Niterose11

    Niterose11 TS Rookie

    As one of the people who had their account cancelled, I take offense to this article. I engaged in no fraudulent activity, was in the cardless system so had to card to possible abuse, never used my account except to see movies myself and checked into all but one movie, which happened months ago,
    and emailed tech support immediately to provide proof I was at the movie theatre and received a response back at that time giving me the all clear. Sinemia terminated me without providing me examples of this so-called fraudulent activity, despite multiple attempts on my part to get that information, leaving me with no way to combat their claims. Though I signed up for an annual subscription, the "refund" they offered was the difference between what I paid and what they spent on my tickets (hint: that equals $0), not a refund for the months remaining on my subscription.

    Tech Spot, you should really research both sides of a story. I think you will find that a lot of the people who were terminated we're honest people who ended up using their plan as intended, and because if that, Sinemia was out more money than they wanted. I personally take offense to this article's one-sided nature and blanket assumptions. I can assure you that I, and many others in this situation, are honest and follow the rules. You might find that you lose some credibility in publishing without doing your research. I would be happy to provide proof of my honest behavior if I could find out what I am being accused of. I have every ticket and I'm sure my phone's location service can verify my whereabouts for every use of my account.
    pnev77, Bette, Prof256 and 2 others like this.
  10. Rosamunde

    Rosamunde TS Rookie

    What rubbish. They canceled my account and I never violated any rules. They wanted me to upload two Forms of ID, so I did. Of course a license wasn’t enough, I also had to upload another form which was my passport. I uploaded the images at least ten times. I would get an email the next day saying to repeat the process again. The images were clear and you could see my identification information too. I wrote them numerous times trying to resolve the issue, but no one ever wrote back. They do not even have a phone number where you can call them. It was without a doubt the worst service I ever received by a company. I would rather pay full movie ticket prices then ever deal with them again. Buyer Beware
    pnev77, Bette, Prof256 and 1 other person like this.
  11. Mary Sadowski

    Mary Sadowski TS Rookie

    As one of the people who they cancelled I say B.S. I am a widow who joined because I hated going home after my second shift job on Friday nights to an empty house. I got a movie pass at Christmas 2017 when it was such a good deal so I could go to a movie instead of going home and crying. It worked so well I decided to join Sinemia last fall when Movie Pass looked like it was going under. I checked in to every movie I went to. I always went alone and I don't even think it would be possible to use the card more than for a movie. BTW 99 percent of the time I purchased my tickets through fandango and not with the card. They could not give me a reason for thinking I defrauded them. I believe I was about to the amount I paid for the service in movies when they cancelled me. BS Sinemia BS I guess that's why you have been sending me emails to rejoin? SMH
    Bette and Prof256 like this.
  12. captainkirk24

    captainkirk24 TS Rookie

    The title should have the word "confirms" replaced with "alleges", unless they have provided proof. Sinemia has lost all credibility with me. I haven't been canceled yet, but the shenanigans they have pulled on me with undisclosed fees, erroneous charges, and outages that coincide suspiciously with my usage patterns lead me to believe they are running a very shady business.
    Prof256, anmarlow and Mary Sadowski like this.
  13. Mary Sadowski

    Mary Sadowski TS Rookie

    Exactly. I will continue going to movies but I give up on these movie programs!!!
    Bette likes this.
  14. marymccauley

    marymccauley TS Rookie

    Sinemia’s “explanation” for the account explanations is BS. In my case, the only violation on their list that I could conceivably have committed is that I once forgot to check in for the movie I saw. I remembered 30 minutes too late, and immediately emailed customer service an apology along with a downloaded picture of my ticket stub proving that I had seen the same movie I’d reserved. I received a response telling me that if I did it in the future I’d be charged for the price of the ticket but that since this was a first offense, I shouldn’t worry. (And yes, I can prove all of this.) In what universe is that fraud? Doesn’t Sinemia realize how deeply offensive it is when they accuse innocent people of dishonesty and fraud? Don’t they realize how desperate and shady it makes them look? They could protect the secrecy of their fraud detection systems and still inform customers what specific term they allegedly violated and give them a chance to responde. That is how legitimate companies operate. In contrast, companies who wish to blame their financial problems on trumped-up charges of fraud do exactly what Sinemia is doing.
    pnev77, Bette and Prof256 like this.
  15. Bette

    Bette TS Rookie

    I agree with all of the comments, so far. Sinemia's statement is SO not true. They have not verified fraud nor told me why they suspect fraud. Their history of my usage only coincides with a few of our movies' prices and they charged for three extra movies. They are "unreachable" most of the time. I paid for 12 months and used 6 months before termination. I have used the service with integrity expecting them to do the same.
    pnev77 likes this.
  16. marymccauley

    marymccauley TS Rookie

    I was also canceled six months to the day after I began using Sinemia and right when I was about to pass the break-even point and start costing them money. I don’t think that’s coincidence. I also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that my account was terminated immediately after I refused their request to “tip” them $1, $2, or $5.
    pnev77 likes this.
  17. pnev77

    pnev77 TS Rookie

    This is total BS. They canceled my account and no reason was ever given. I do not have their debit card and yes I did forget to check in and then paid the penalty fee (so how is that fraudulent activity?).
    What about the people whose app doesn't work anymore (endlessly spinning)? Their service is not terminated but they can't use it anymore.
    Bottom line is that this company is a fraud and should be shut down. They offered a prepaid monthly service and they canceled accounts simply because their model is not sustainable and they loose money on some (or most?) existing customers, so it makes sense to them to try to get new subscribers and drop old ones. Such an obvious scam. They clearly preyed on disappointed moviepass customers.
  18. ScottS

    ScottS TS Rookie

    Sinemia is a big scam. They won’t even reply to emails..... they basically are happy to keep members who don’t go to the movies, and will cancel memberships for people who actually use their service.

    They didn’t even tell me my membership was canceled, and instead simply stopped me making purchases on the app. They wouldn’t reply to emails, and are just a big scam.

    Take a look at their F rating on BBB if you need any confirmation!
  19. Dover9783

    Dover9783 TS Rookie

    It's still ongoing. They're taking what they can get from customers. I don't know why government officials haven't tried stepping in. Something needs to be done .

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