Facebook, Washington state sue alleged ad scammer

Facebook and the Washington attorney general allege Adscend Media has been scamming Facebook users

Washington's attorney general announced two new lawsuits against Adscend Media, a company that allegedly has been earning US$20 million a year using a Facebook scam.

It was a complicated scam that Facebook has now blocked, executives from the company said during a press conference in Seattle. Facebook users would see a link to a provocative video recommended by a friend on Facebook. A user would click on the video link and see a pop-up that might ask the user to verify they are over age 13. By clicking on the verification box, the user would unknowingly share the video on their Facebook page.

After clicking the box, another pop-up would appear taking the user to an advertiser site that might ask the person to supply personal information or purchase an item like a phone ringtone.

"Every time a user links to one of these advertiser sites, Adscend is paid a commission by the advertiser," said Paula Selis, assistant attorney general in Washington.

The attorneys said that advertisers didn't necessarily know that Adscend was using these methods to drive traffic to their advertisements. The advertiser might be a large company working with a number of online advertising companies like Adscend, paying them for the traffic they generate to their ads, said Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. "What happens is an advertiser doesn't know every place the ads are being placed," he said.

Facebook alleges that Adscend was earning over a million dollars a month, said Craig Clark, Facebook's lead litigation counsel. He declined to say how long the activity has been happening.

Facebook said that a browser vulnerability that allowed the exploit has been fixed so users shouldn't continue to see the scam.

Neither Facebook nor the state attorney general's office asked Adscend to stop the activity before they filed the lawsuit. When asked why not, Selis said: "There's no specific reason. They are big, they are pernicious, they have been doing this for a while and they know they are violating the law."

Adscend, which is based in Delaware, could not immediately be reached for comment.

In addition to the attorney general's suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Facebook also filed a suit against the company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, charging that Adscend violated Facebook's terms of use and a U.S. anti-spam law.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?