Bouxtie, TikTok followers and Gift Cards out of business

“Many Instagram users said this Bouxtie site is fully reliable, trusted, legit, not a scam and can be useful for people who need it”. It is part of the review made by the website nambanation.com on the service provided by Bouxtie, a portal selling TikTok likes and TikTok followers at attractive prices, departing from a few cents.

TikTok is a popular social media based on sharing short videos. As for other social media, likes, followers, and engagement can increase your visibility and popularity. Therefore, Bouxtie promises to help you with this. You can “buy TikTok likes, views, and fans as cheap as $0.69. The basic price of TikTok shares and comments starts from $0.95“. You give your profile details, pay, and get more likes, views or fans.

Bouxtie Prices

Bouxtie’s website also explains the importance of the service. “Your content will become more trendy when you buy views and likes for your TikTok videos. Also, you can buy followers, which helps to obtain exposure for your TikTok profile overnight”.

The announcement assures the followers are “real“, discarding the possibility they are fake, i.e. accounts managed with automated programs (bots). The offer is tempting since the prices are so low. Thus, some doubts can arise about the business of this website.

Bouxtie.com, a cyber investigation

Wayback Machine, how Bouxtie sold Gift Card services

Bouxtie.com as of 28th of June 2016 in Wayback Machine

Bouxtie.com wasn’t born as a TikTok followers’ selling service, a cyber investigation shows. The Wayback Machine (archive.org) is a digital archive of the World Wide Web. It allows users to go “back in time” and see how websites looked in the past.

Querying bouxtie.com in Wayback Machine, the first trace dates back to 2013. The website then promoted a smartphone app for sending customised gift cards. Gift cards are prepaid stored-value money cards issued by a retailer or bank: you can use them for purchases within related businesses.

More and more people buy these cards and give them to friends, familiars, and colleagues as original gifts: the recipients can spend them as they want. Gift cards are also prevalent in the black market as a payment method: they are valuable, easy to send and untraceable, as they are not nominal.

Bouxtie allowed the clients to select a gift card from retail brands and send it by adding a personal message (or a video). “Customise a gift voucher to tell your story”, the website advertised.

Flexawards, another service

According to Wayback Machine, from the 3rd of March 2018 until mid-2018, the website bouxtie.com was redirecting to another: flexawards.com. Flexawards was a similar service provided by the same company, with some plus:

1) connecting employees, companies and clients who send the gift cards as a reward for outstanding job performance;

2) the ability to manage the owned gift cards, also transforming their value in credits within the application (redeeming, in the jargon).

As we advanced in Wayback Machine, something happened. Indeed, from the middle of 2018 until February 2020, the website bouxtie.com was unreachable. Since the 21st of February 2020, it has been online again, now selling TikTok followers, as we saw.

Renato Libric, the CEO of Bouxtie

The company “Bouxtie, Inc.” was a Delaware corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, its CEO, the Croatian Renato Libric, was listed first in a Huffington Post list among the ten entrepreneurs to follow in 2017. Unfortunately, in May 2018, a federal grand jury charged him with one count of wire fraud.

According to The Register’s news website, “his goal was to disrupt the vast gift card market – worth more than $100bn in America”. But “everyone in Silicon Valley was asking for evidence of revenue before investing, and Bouxtie was not impressing”.

Therefore, from August 2017 through February 2018, Libric carried out a scheme to defraud potential investors in “Bouxtie, Inc.”. He overstated the company’s financial condition to induce backers to believe he had the authority to sell shares.

Libric falsified a bank statement, suggesting the company had a balance of over $2 million in an account when, in fact, there was roughly $7,000. In September 2018, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to a $1.5 million investment fraud scheme.

Spyonweb, the links of the website bouxtie.com

The formal website of the company Bouxtie was “bouxtieinc.com”. Wayback Machine has trails from it since 2016. In 2018, bouxtieinc.com was redirecting to flexawards.com (as bouxtie.com).

As confirmation that the website bouxtie.com belonged to the company “Bouxtie, Inc.”, Spyonweb can help. It is a service crawling the web, looking for tracking codes, nameservers, and other pieces of information to show connections on the internet.

Indeed, the websites’ owners are usually signed up for the free “Google Analytics” service, which shows them the size and origin of their audience. To receive this data, they need to add a unique code to all the sites they control, which always begins with the two letters “UA-“. Spyonweb shows you the connection with other internet pages via “UA” when you query the name of a website.

In our case, the “UA-42884665” is the same for bouxtie.com, bouxtie.gifts and flexawards.com. So, flexawards.com had the same owner as bouxtie.com. As reported on Huffington Post (in the article mentioned above), the platform Flexawards was launched by Libric and the team of “Bouxtie, Inc.”. Bouxtieinc.com and bouxtie.com belonged to the same company. What about now?

Who is behind bouxtie.com, now

Bouxtie.com Support Section

Difficult to say if Libric is still behind these websites. Possibly not. Currently, bouxtieinc.com shows a front page in Chinese advertising betting services. As we saw, the situation differs for bouxtie.com, which sells TikTok services (in English).

Today, at the bottom of the homepage of this latter website, you can find the section “Support”, with the name of another company: “Raptum Digital”. There is a WhatsApp contact: a telephone number with a US prefix +1(567) 251-0131. But there is also an email address: support@raptumdigital.com. The email domain could be linked to a corresponding website.

As of the 8th of August, the website raptumdigital.com is unavailable. Yet, Wayback Machine recorded its history. From January 2016 until July 2017, the registered front pages of the website described Raptum Digital as “a collective of seasoned artists who design/develop beautiful and engaging digital experiences”. The artists were based in Las Vegas, San Juan, Havana, Bogotà, and Miami.

Then, something changed. From 2020 until mid-2022, the front pages of the same website raptumdigital.com describe “Raptum Digital” as a company for digital marketing. But now the headquarter is declared in Coimbatore, India.

Raptum Digital, a marketing company

This new “Raptum Digital” offers multiple services: search engine optimisation strategies, email newsletter, pay-per-click management, and much more. Among them are also Social Media Marketing Services.

“Gone are the days when social media was meant only for socialising”, Raptum Digital website stated in the last months. “Social media is now a marketing hub with billions of active users who are potential target buyers looking out for products and services just like yours. We do the work for you (…) to influence the buying decision of consumers, capturing more sales”.

The offer consists in selling likes, comments, and followers (at a few dozen cents) to direct the outlay of shoppers. There is a list of 6 websites (all live as of the 8th of August) managed by this agency. Yet, according to Wayback Machine, each was built with a distinct mission, graphic, content and purpose from today.

The list of websites managed by Raptum Digital

  1. Snaphappen.com was created in 2016 to promote an event in London on the 22nd of September that year: a “Snapchat award ceremony”. Since August 2018, it has changed, selling likes for Instagram, now under the supervision of Raptum Digital.
  2. Pixelgroovy.com was created in 2006 to promote every kind of online tutorial. Since November 2019, it has been selling likes for Youtube accounts, now managed by Raptum Digital.
  3. Rousesocial.com was created in 2013 as an app to aggregate the best social media. Since 2019, it has been selling likes for Twitter accounts. Again, the controller is Raptum Digital.
  4. Planyourgram.com has had trails since 2016. It was a “Visual Planner and Scheduler” for Instagram. Since 2019, it has changed, selling likes for Instagram profiles. Raputm Digital manages it.
  5. Flatfitty.com was a website for selling hats. It was created in 2010. According to Wayback Machine, since 2017, it has been selling likes for TikTok under the control of Raptum Digital.
  6. The sixth is Bouxtie.com. We saw its history, selling at the beginning gift card services and now devoted to TikTok followers.

Protect the data

Every one of these websites has a section for the privacy policy. It should be fundamental as they deal with personal information. A customer of Bouxtie (or one of its brothers) needs to share with the platform the social media profile contact (and the credit card number for the payment).

Such personal data also appeal to companies that want to collect details of potential customers to predict their shopping behaviour. A new job has arisen in the last few years: the data broker. These new professionals gather information from various sources to shape a detailed picture of who you are and then sell it.

According to the website of the antivirus company Kaspersky, this “new industry has been criticised for being opaque: data brokers have no real incentive to interact with the people whose data they collect, analyse, share, and profit from”.

(Some states, like California, introduced an official registry of data brokers to regulate this market).

A credit card fraud

The data brokerage is not a mission for Bouxtie. At least not publicised. You can read it clearly in the “Terms and Conditions” agreement at the moment of the purchase. “We use your information – it states – to send you upcoming promotions, coupons and information about any 3rd party websites that you might be interested in”. But it also specifies: “Bouxtie never sells your information to anyone”.

However, not always personal data shared with this platform seem safe. The review website Trustpilot classified the service provided by the current Bouxtie as “Poor” (2 stars out of 5). Some customers advise it is a scam, as they paid but didn’t receive the likes, followers, or comments they had purchased.

Review of Bouxtie on Trustpilot

 

One comment (dated 2020) is even worst. “My credit card was compromised”, the reviewer wrote. It should mean that the customer put the data of his card on the website to make the payment. Still, someone stole it to spend the victim’s money over the internet (Credit Card Fraud).

The address and the “e-residency”

Bouxtie in Estonia

The “Terms and Conditions” document enshrines the possibility of claims. Its section “Governing Law” remarks, “any claim shall be governed by the laws of in [SIC] without regards to its conflict of law provision”. Here, the address of Raptum Digital is declared in Tallin, Estonia (European Union), which is supposedly the country ruling the agreement.

Indeed, the complete exposed direction of Raptum Digital is “Harju maakond, Tallinn, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tartu mnt 67/1-13b, 10115”. It is also the address of several foreign companies, as a quick search on Google shows. But it is mainly the direction of the Estonian “Dalanta“, an entity supplying services of “e-residency” for worldwide enterprises.

The “E-Residency” is an Estonian government-issued digital identity (launched in 2014) that provides access to the country’s business environment. “A new digital nation for the world”, the program’s official website summarises.

The value of the service is explained in detail. “E-resident entrepreneurs from all over the world can start an EU-based company and manage a business from anywhere, entirely online”. Foreigners can access Estonian banking, payment processing, and taxation services. The applicants become a taxpayer both in Estonia and in the country where they are tax residents.

Supposedly, Raptum Digital decided to take the e-residency. So, every judicial issue should be solved under this little European country’s law, far from the company’s declared (physical) headquarters in India.

Nambanation Review

What about the review by nambanation.com? The judgement over Bouxtie was incredibly positive. But the same assessment, with the exact copy-pasted words, has been published in another website’s review, too: followermiidia.com.

According to whois.domaintools.com (a service showing also the ageing of a website), Followermiidia’s creation dates back to May 2022. This website “gives you likes and followers”, too, but on Instagram. Its description specifies, “Totally free. We will never charge anything”.

FollowerMiidia Requirements

So, no need for a credit card. But to take advantage of the service, you should enter your Instagram username and password, giving your account access to a new, utterly anonymous website. If you have any legal problem, another country member of the European Union rules over it. “Any claim relating to FollowerMiidia’s website – the policy specifies – shall be governed by the laws of Cyprus“.

The GDPR in the EU

In 2018, the European Union introduced a regulation on data protection (the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR), which applies to enterprises processing personal information inside the European Economic Area. It foresees obligations in data management, duties of data controllers and sanctions to preserve clients’ privacy.

Yet, violations occur. Marketing companies are able to collect users’ details through distinct online services. Then, they could build consumers’ profiles for commercial purposes. Better not to share personal data with suspicious websites which don’t assure confidentiality.