Facebook sues alleged scammer over sex and Jennifer Lopez ads

A Brooklyn man is accused of scamming the social network out of $340,000 in advertising, and Facebook wants him banned for life

A forum posting, reproduced in a Facebook lawsuit, advertises a Facebook advertising account for sale

A forum posting, reproduced in a Facebook lawsuit, advertises a Facebook advertising account for sale

Facebook is suing a former advertiser on its site, claiming he ran multiple ad accounts to promote sexual content and used a simple trick to scam the social network out of US$340,000.

The lawsuit, filed this week, asks a federal court in San Francisco to ban Martin Grunin of Brooklyn, New York, from Facebook for life and to force him to pay back the money he allegedly owes.

According to the lawsuit, Grunin started placing ads on Facebook in early 2011 that "purported to offer casual dating services and included a picture of a woman with a sexually explicit and profane caption."

Grunin couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

The ads, which linked to sites that paid Grunin for the traffic he sent them, resulted in Facebook issuing a cease-and-desist letter that Grunin accepted, according to the complaint. But he continued to open new accounts and kept advertising.

A year later, in 2012, Grunin sold access to Facebook advertising accounts with large credit lines to which he had "procured access through unauthorized means," the complaint alleges.

In an online forum posting allegedly written by Grunin and reproduced in the lawsuit, he offers an account with a $30,000 daily spending limit affiliated with an animal charity fan page.

Later that year, the suit alleges, he began contacting Facebook's ad sales team from accounts that appeared to belong to legitimate advertising agencies in order to create new accounts.

One email used a domain name that appeared similar to a legitimate one -- a common tactic of scammers -- and Facebook was apparently duped by it. By the time it discovered the fraud, the accounts had run $40,000 of deceptive ads supposedly endorsed by celebrities Jennifer Lopez and Dr. Oz, Facebook says.

A similar scam began in February 2013 and opened accounts that ran $300,000 worth of ads before it was noticed.

The defendant appears to be the same Martin Grunin who attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Last year, he was interviewed by the student newspaper and talked about trading more than $100,000 on financial markets in between doing school work, and chided other students for lacking ambition.

"I want to be a billionaire one day," he told the newspaper.

The article, which appears to have been taken offline but is still available through Google's cache, is accompanied by a picture of Grunin in a sports car.

He is also a prolific poster to YouTube, where he talks about stock trading schemes, and on the StockTwits message board.

On Thursday, in reply to a message on StockTwits that offers him support for "that FB thing," Grunin replied: "It's all baseless allegations."

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags advertisingInternet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuitslegalsocial mediainternetFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

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

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?