MySpace users were less than thankful for the “add” when linking up with phony friends created by the latest defendant in a spam and phishing suit filed by the site. The News Corp-owned social networking site filed a complaint Friday in United States District Court in Los Angeles against yet another notorious spammer, Sanford Wallace, a.k.a. “Spamford,” two months after filing a similar suit against spam legend Scott Richter.
After sending Wallace a cease and desist letter in November, MySpace has filed the complaint against him and related operations including FreeVegasClubs.com, Real-Vegas-Sins.com and Feeble Minded Productions for false advertising, breach of contract, infringement on MySpace registered marks and logo and unfair competition, in addition to violations of the U.S. Can Spam Act and California’s Anti-Phishing Act of 2005.
Specifically, MySpace claims the defendant created 11,000 phony profiles using an automated system, including over 2,000 with the display name “What Pic Should I Upload?” The company also alleges Wallace and his affiliated operations “hijacked” more than 300,000 MySpace user accounts and posted at least 890,000 undeletable comments on other user profiles that appeared to be from legitimate users.
On Saturday, MySpace founder and ubiquitous friend Tom Anderson posted a message to users providing directions on how to remove spam comments. “[J]ust fyi, we are in the process of taking legal action against the losers behind this comment spam,” he wrote. The site is “working on a filter that will stop it from happening altogether… that should be done in a few days,” he continued.
Sometime around October 2006, according to the complaint, MySpace alleges Wallace created profiles, groups and events that redirected users to sites that appeared to be affiliated with MySpace. Users of the social site were apparently duped into submitting personal information, including their MySpace logins and passwords, via the spoofed sites. The firm’s suit also claims Wallace redirected users to “advertising, scam, and adult content websites (irrespective of and with no regard for the MySpace user’s age).” After contacting Wallace regarding the alleged violations, he admitted responsibility for them but refused to cease the activity, MySpace claims.
According to the lawsuit, the case “includes claims for pernicious spoofing and spamming, phishing, identity theft and other unlawful acts committed by using illegal and deceptive means to exploit consumers without their knowledge or authorization in order to reap the benefits of sales commissions made through advertisements disseminated to consumers.”
Web site domains listed in the suit include FreeVegasClubs.com, Real-Vegas-Sins.com, getbiggiecised.com and stop-passing-gas.com. Currently, FreeVegasClubs.com and Real-Vegas-Sins.com feature content titled, “Beware Of Wild Beasts On The Web.” The sites go on to warn users, “It’s important to be savvy enough to recognize bait and switch tricks and out-and-out scams. Both of them abound! Beyond that, you will need to keep in mind the potential for unsolicited E-mails. Nobody likes spam!” Both sites also currently feature sponsored text link ads that appear to be served by ad network AdBrite.
Another site named in the suit, stop-passing-gas.com, is loaded with links to other pages featuring sponsored links to sites from advertisers including Expedia, Geico, and several others. Those links appear to be served by Yahoo’s Overture. The domain getbiggiecised.com currently is not found; however, a link to the domain can still be found on MySpace profile pages.
In the claim against Wallace, MySpace noted that since January it has removed over 290,000 instances of unauthorized links, and 890,000 unauthorized comments posted by Wallace from legitimate MySpace profiles. The site and its users have fallen prey to countless spam and phishing attempts, often perpetrated by small-time affiliate marketing players employing black hat promotional techniques.
Wallace has been known for his spam antics for over ten years, and has been lobbed with lawsuits from the likes of AOL, Earthlink and the Federal Trade Commission in relation to companies including Cyber Promotions, SmartBot.net and Seismic Entertainment Productions.
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