Phishing

Facebook sues three over alleged spam, phishing

December 17, 2009

Facebook this week filed a lawsuit against three men allegedly responsible for phishing and spamming members.

Since October 2008, the defendants — Jeremi Fisher, Philip Porembski and Ryan Shimeall — have been using Facebook accounts under their control to bombard some of the social networking site's 350 million active users with "wall posts" that contained links for fake goods and services, such as colon cleansers, Macy's gift cards and debt solutions, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants were able to access legitimate member accounts to deliver the phony messages, likely by phishing users of their login credentials, the complaint said. Facebook has spent more than $5,000 responding to the spam, which appears to come from friends the recipients trust.

"The spam messages do not properly identify the initiators of the messages, nor do they provide clear or conspicuous notice that the messages are advertisements, information on how recipients can opt-out of future messages, or a valid address that recipients can use to contact the defendants," the lawsuit said. "The large volume of spam — with almost three-fourths of it being sent in approximately the last three months alone — has tainted and continues to taint the Facebook experience for the affected Facebook users."

The defendants earned money by registering as affiliates and receiving money each time a victim clicks on one of the spam links and is redirected through a series of websites.

Facebook, which is suing under state and federal anti-spam laws, is seeking a court injunction that prohibits the accused spammers from delivering any more junk messages, in addition to unspecified monetary damages.

Fisher did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Contact information for Porembski and Shimeall could not be obtained.

In October, a U.S. District Court in San Jose awarded Facebook $711 million after being victimized by prolific spammer Sanford Wallace.



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