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Taking Action Against Ad Fraud

By Facebook's Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation and Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management, Business Integrity

December 9, 2019

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep people safe and combat abuse of our ad platform, Facebook filed suit in California today against one entity and two individuals for violating our Terms and Advertising Policies. The defendants deceived people into installing malware available on the internet. This malware then enabled the defendants to compromise people’s Facebook accounts and run deceptive ads promoting items such as counterfeit goods and diet pills.

The suit seeks to hold accountable ILikeAd Media International Company Ltd. and Chen Xiao Cong and Huang Tao for creating the malware, tricking people into installing it, compromising people’s Facebook accounts and then using people’s accounts to run deceptive ads.  

The defendants sometimes used images of celebrities in their ads to entice people to click on them, a practice known as “celeb bait.” In some instances, the defendants also engaged in a practice known as cloaking. Through cloaking, the defendants deliberately disguised the true destination of the link in the ad by displaying one version of an ad’s landing page to Facebook’s systems and a different version to Facebook users. 

Cloaking schemes are often sophisticated and well organized, making the individuals and organizations behind them difficult to identify and hold accountable. As a result, there have not been many legal actions of this kind. In this case, we have refunded victims whose accounts were used to run unauthorized ads and helped them to secure their accounts.

To protect Facebook users and disrupt these types of schemes, we will continue our work to detect malicious behavior directed towards our platform and enforce against violations of our Terms and Policies. Creating real world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity of our platform.

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