- YouTube stars including Jake Paul and Rice Gum are advertising “mystery boxes” from MysteryBrand to their young audiences.
- MysteryBrand offers the chance to open a digital “box” of pre-selected items with a promise to win one in real life at random.
- Critics say the boxes make no economic sense, and people who have purchased from MysteryBrand say they haven’t received their items after months of waiting.
- One YouTube star said he turned down a $US100,000 sponsorship offer from the company because he believed it was “gambling” and might be a scam.
YouTuber stars like Jake Paul and Rice Gum are promoting “mystery boxes” to their audiences of millions of kids. But critics say it’s all a scam.
On its surface, the mystery box concept is pretty simple.On MysteryBrand, you pay money to open a digital box that contains a range of possible pre-selected items. For $US49.99, for example, the Supreme x LV box supposedly offers a range of possible items from the Louis Vuitton and Supreme brand collaboration, with the possibility of Nike or Polo Ralph Lauren socks thrown in. Whatever item you win, you can either get shipped to your home or “sell” back to the site for credit.
Boxes offered by MysteryBrand start at $US4.99 (a “tech” box that might contain a laptop or a mini-projector) and go up to $US1,299.99 (a Louis Vuitton x Supreme box with “high” odds). According to the way MysteryBrand advertises certain boxes, prices are determined by both your odds of winning and what’s offered in the box.
It’s a decision that could potentially cost hundreds or thousands of dollars – or more. According to The Daily Beast, one prize the site offers a box called the “Most Expensive Los Angeles Realty 250 000 000” – a Bel Air mansion listed for $US188 million that seemingly has no affiliation with the site.
Nevertheless, YouTube influencers like Jake Paul, Rice Gum, and Guava Juice – all of whom have more than 10 million subscribers and audiences of people under 18 – are promoting MysteryBrand on their channels.
Yet it’s unclear how MysteryBrand’s boxes actually work – or if users are actually getting any of the merchandise they have digitally won.
The site’s terms of service assure that particular items are “determined in a random selection,” which means there’s an equal chance of getting any particular item offered in a box. If you look at the Supreme x LV box, you’ll see that one of the cheapest items from the collection – say, a key chain – goes for nearly $US1,000 elsewhere online in used condition. The most expensive, a luggage trunk, goes for $US150,000. Chances are, though, most people will end up with a lower priced item – like say, a pair of Nike socks – in order for MysteryBrand to stay profitable.
Or, as it’s explained in the site’s FAQs, “There are a lot of boxes on the website. Opening the box you get one of the items that you can order with delivery or sell. The cost of opening the box is always the same, no matter what item you get. Thus, you can get expensive and interesting products at very low prices.”
Moreover, the chances for user-generated boxes don’t really appear to be random. In Jake Paul’s video, he curates his own mystery box. The video shows him determining the odds of winning each possible item. The MysteryBrand website doesn’t disclose those odds to people who want to purchase a box.
Beyond the questionable gambit of the game, many people who have purchased mystery boxes say they have yet to receive any product at all.
YouTuber commenters and Reddit users who tried it out say the experience hasn’t been smooth. Many users reported being told their item would be shipped for weeks, only to have them never arrive.
One user entered the Supreme x LV Mystery Box and supposedly won a pocket knife. That was two months ago.
“They’re SCAMMERS,” they wrote. “It has been a LOOOOOONG time since they told me they were about to ship the items and still no tracking numbers to this day.”
YouTuber Daniel Keem, who has a YouTube show on his “Keemstar” channel where he discusses YouTuber drama, said MysteryBrand offered him $US100,000 to promote the site, but he turned it down because it was “gambling” and he believed it may be a scam.
First big story of 2019!
I was offered $100k to do the same & almost took the cash. (But didn’t) So I can’t go that hard on them.
— KEEM ???? (@KEEMSTAR) January 2, 2019
I think most of the videos will be exposing the site for being a scam. Which I didn’t know until right now was the case. No amount of money would be worth me promoting a scam to you guys. Unlesss it’s like $10m then sorry I’m going to have to BetterHelp you all!
— KEEM ???? (@KEEMSTAR) January 2, 2019
Paul himself appears to be responding to critics with sarcasm.
Lol love this vid????
— END CYBER BULLYING 2019 (@jakepaul) January 2, 2019
Yes love it!! ????
— END CYBER BULLYING 2019 (@jakepaul) January 3, 2019
It’s not clear who runs MysteryBrand. An official email address listed on the site didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Dereck Mush, the only person who lists the company on LinkedIn, said he manages the company’s customer service and social media accounts but doesn’t “work directly for MysteryBrand.”
“From what I know it’s not a scam,” Mush told INSIDER. “I talk to people and mostly they get their stuff unless there are some few problems which are usually fixed.”
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