A US man from Las Vegas has pleaded guilty to sending 27 million spam messages via 500,000 Facebook accounts during a three-month period from November 2008 to February 2009.
Sanford Wallace, 47, has been dubbed the ‘spam king’ for his antics, and now faces the possibility of a $250,000 fine and up to three years in jail after confessing to fraud and criminal contempt in a court in California.
Wallace used phishing emails to trick users on the site into revealing their passwords, which he then used to log in to their accounts and post links to websites on people’s profiles.
These links directed to websites that had paid Wallace for traffic, helping him fulfil his requirements.
A total of 500,000 accounts were said to have been accessed in this way over the three-month period, and Wallace accessed Facebook systems on three occasions to facilitate the posting of the messages.
Wallace admitted doing this on three occasions: 5 November 2008, 28 December 2008 and 17 February 2009.
The November access led to 125,000 messages being sent to Facebook users, while the December 2008 activity saw 300,000 messages sent. Finally the February 2009 activity saw 125,000 spam messages sent.
These messages enabled Wallace to log-in to these accounts and use them to send the spam messages to millions of Facebook users, helping to drive traffic to the website for which he was being paid to increase page views.
Wallace also admitted in court that he violated the terms of an order after his arrest not to go on Facebook, by acknowledging that on 17 April 2009 he logged on to his account while on a flight from Las Vegas to New York.
Commenting on the case a Facebook spokesperson said: “On top of the technical measures we employ to defeat spam on our service, we actively pursue both civil and criminal consequences for those who try to harm people who use Facebook.”
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