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



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

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.

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?