Facebook has acted on its threat to file lawsuits against three of its major spammers, alleging violations of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM).
Accused Spammer No. 1: Steven Richter of Kings Park, Long Island, New York
Richter allegedly created dozens of fake Facebook profiles and then used them to redirect users to his websites that displayed pay-per-view advertisements. The more visitors he could scam into visiting his websites, the more money he made from advertisers. Some of his more popular Facebook scams included a “click here for a Facebook Gold Account” link and a “click here for a free Farmville: Limited Edition Large Horse Stable” link, which, upon clicking, redirected the user to his private website. He then used malicious code to spam the user’s friends with commercial messages that appeared to come from the user, but were in fact sent directly by Richter.
Richter earned an average of 44 cents per click from his advertisers, and he was able to trick an average of 3,700 users a day into clicking on his fake Facebook links. It took Facebook almost four months to discover his money making scheme, and Facebook deleted his accounts last March.
On October 19, 2010, Facebook decided to take a more aggressive approach to spammers like Richter, and filed a complaint in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California accusing Richter of CAN-SPAM Act violations, computer fraud, trademark dilution, breach of contract, tortuous interference with contract, and false designation of origin, seeking an unspecified amount of damages and injunctive relief.
Accused Spammer No. 2: Jason Swan of Las Vegas, Nevada
A similar Federal lawsuit has also been filed against Jason Swan of Las Vegas who is accused of also creating fake profiles on Facebook that claimed to be able to add a long sought-after “Dislike” button to a user’s profile. Upon clicking, the users were redirected to one of Swan’s pay-per-click websites.
Accused Spammer No. 3: MaxBounty, Inc. from Ottawa, Canada
A third suit was filed against MaxBounty, Inc., a company based in Ottawa, Canada. Facebook is alleging that MaxBounty Inc., like Richter and Swan, created several fake Facebook pages to trick users into visiting one of it’s commercial websites, which allowed MaxBounty, Inc. to then spam all of the user’s friends.
Facebook’s decision to more aggressively pursue spammers will no doubt serve as a deterrent for any future entrepreneurs looking to make a fast buck by spamming users with bogus and obnoxious content.