Facebook Takes Scammers To Federal Court

Facebook this week sued three alleged scammers, including one who allegedly created fake Web sites that promised users the ability to "dislike" pages.

In court papers filed Tuesday in federal district court in San Jose, Facebook alleges that Las Vegas resident Jason Swan, Kings Park, N.Y. resident Steven Richter and ad company Max Bounty engaged in complex schemes to trick users into clicking on ads, signing up for paid subscription services and spamming their friends.

Swan allegedly engaged in a scam that began by luring users to sign up for deceptive apps by promising to provide dislike buttons. Those apps "were designed to trick unsuspecting Facebook (users) to redirect their computer browsers through a series of unwanted commercial Web sites that took the users' money and paid defendant for Internet traffic," Facebook alleges in its complaint.

In some cases, the apps asked for information from users, including their cell phone numbers. Swan then allegedly signed people up for mobile subscription services. The "misleading and deceptive advertising scheme has tainted the Facebook experience for the affected Facebook users and caused many of them real economic loss in the form of undisclosed subscription fees," the company alleges.

Max Bounty allegedly contracted with affiliates to create Facebook pages offering "free" gift cards. Users were allegedly tricked into becoming fans of those pages, and also inviting their friends to become fans. Users were then allegedly redirected to a site where they were asked to sign up for paid subscriptions to material like magazines and movies.

Facebook alleges that the activities of Swan, Richter and Max Bounty constitute violations of various laws, including the federal CAN-SPAM law, the federal computer fraud statute and trademark law.

"We will press on with enforcement and collection efforts against spammers and fraudsters, and we're committed to applying continuous legal pressure to send a strong message to spammers that they're not welcome on Facebook," the company said in a blog post.

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