Sources claim that the 25-year-old was employed at several lapdancing establishments in London before beginning a relationship with a married man more than ten years her senior.
"Maria would meet her married man at a Mayfair hotel," a friend told The People. "He would pay for drinks and she would openly brag about how much money she was getting off him.
"She was open about the fact he was a lot older than her and loved the fact he spoiled her. The money he gave her helped her live a very comfortable life. It even helped pay for her boob op in 2009."
Fowler's former lover - who did not wish to be named - confirmed their relationship to the publication, but insisted that he would never get involved with the reality star again.
"I am a happily married man," he stated. "I have spent time with [Fowler] and have spent money that way. She's a daft, young girl, I have got no time for her at all. She is the fame-hungry one who wants to be in the paper."
Responding to the report, an Only Way Is Essex insider said: "Maria openly told producers about her past. It is something she felt they should be aware of but that it was nothing to be ashamed of."
Fowler has also dated Jade Goody's widower Jack Tweed, a close friend of her Essex co-star Mark Wright.
Fowler previously declared that she enjoyed "stirring" up the ITV2 reality show.
Watch Digital Spy's interview with Maria Fowler below: