Facebook’s fight against spam and scams continues with their latest filings of three lawsuits a U.S. federal court in San Jose, California late last month. Facebook is alleging violations of their terms and applicable law by defendants attempting to trick users of Facebook into signing up for mobile subscriptions and then virally sending spam to their friends.
According to Facebook Security, “In three separate complaints, we allege that Steven Richter, Jason Swan, and Max Bounty, Inc. used Facebook to offer enticing, but non-existent products and services. According to our complaints, the defendants, among other things, represented that in order to qualify for certain fake or deceptive offers, people had to spam their friends, sign up for automatic mobile phone subscription services, or provide other information. We claim that by doing this, they violated the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), and other state and federal laws.”
Facebook is seeking compensatory, statutory and punitive damages from each of the three parties named in the lawsuits.
Examples of this type of spam/scam are the countless “Free FarmVille Cash”, “500 Mafia Wars Rewards Points, and “66×66 FarmVille Expansion” fan pages we see almost daily on our walls.
Richter is alleged to have created more than 40 Facebook profiles and over 40 Facebook pages, all designed to lure 388,000 users to various third-party sites. He is estimated to have earned 44 cents for each Facebook user he duped.
Let’s do the math: 388,000 x $0.44 = $170,720.00
Swan allegedly harvested Facebook user data by tricking users into participating in various online quizzes and surveys. You have most likely see a variety of them appear on your news feed; “Take the IQ Challenge”, “Which 7 Deadly Sin Are You” and “Are you Stressed?” He is also accused of encouraging Facebok users to spam each other by luring them to copy and paste a piece of java script code into their browsers. This snippet of code automatically blasts a message to all of the user’s friends.
Max Bounty, one of many CPA (Cost Per Action) affiliate marketing firms, is alleged to be behind the schemes of both Richter and Swan. The lawsuit filed by Facebook is alleging that Max Bounty encouraged their affiliates to set up fake Facebook profiles and pages for the purposes of luring Facebook users.
Facebook holds the record for the two largest judgments in the history of the CAN-SPAM Act. In October 2009, Facebook won a $711 million dollar judgement against spammer Sanford Wallace. In 2008, an $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez was a awarded when he was found guilty of sending out more than 4 million pornographic spam messages over Facebook.
In an attempt to encourage Facebook users to be vigilant and learn the skills necessary to protect themselves online, Facebook has teamed up with the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and the Stop. Think. Connect. public awareness campaign, by offering the Stop. Think. Connect. Security Quiz.
I encourage you to take the quiz and test your knowledge. Once you’re done, post a badge to your Wall and share tips with your friends so they too can become more aware.