- Facebook is suing a Hong Kong ad firm over a complex ad fraud scheme that allegedly compromising users’ accounts to bombard them with deceptive Facebook ads featuring celebrities.
- In a legal complaint filed on Thursday, Facebook said ILikeAd Media International Company – along with two Chinese citizens – deceived internet users into clicking ads and installing malware.
- Facebook says this malware enabled the Chinese firm to access their victims’ Facebook accounts and hijack their ad accounts, without their knowledge or consent.
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Facebook is suing a Chinese firm its says hijacked users’ accounts to run and pay for fake ads for diet pills and male enhancement supplements, often featuring celebrities.
In a legal complaint filed Thursday, Facebook claims Hong Kong-based ILikeAd Media International Company – along with two Chinese citizens, Chen Xiao Cong and Huang Tao – initially tricked users into downloading compromising malware.
Allegedly, the company then used this malware to access people’s Facebook accounts and takeover their ad accounts, which were then used to run millions of dollars of adverts for “deceptive diet pills, cryptocurrency investments and images of sexual content.” The cost of running those ads was charged to the victims’ ad accounts.
This is not the first time Facebook has taken legal action in 2019 over incidents relating to malware. It sued two Ukrainian app developers in March for stealing its users’ data through malware, and filed a lawsuit against two Singapore and Hong Kong-based app developers in August for so-called “click injection fraud.”
Click injection fraud is the practice of creating fake user clicks on ads, typically by infecting users’ devices with malware. This creates the impression that more people have clicked on these ads than is really the case.
In a press release regarding Thursday’s legal complaint, Facebook’s director of platform engagement Jessica Romero said Facebook has “refunded victims whose accounts were used to run unauthorised ads and helped them to secure their accounts.”