Facebook Goes After Scammers Impersonating its Domains in Latest Legal Action

You ever get those questionable emails that say something like:

They seem not quite right, but you can also see how people would be duped by them – they use Facebook colors, they include links, it looks kind of legit. Except, Facebook usually refers people to ‘facebook.com’, not ‘facbook.com’ as listed here.

This is an example of one of the many phishing scams in operation, where criminals try to steal information by tricking unsuspecting people into clicking dodgy links. And they work – many people do, in fact, click through on them, which is why Facebook launched an official listing of the emails it sends to each user within your individual profile information back in 2017.

And this week, Facebook is upping its legal pressure on phishing scammers, by filing a lawsuit against an organization called “Whoisguard” which has registered various domain names that, Facebook claims, “aim to deceive people by pretending to be affiliated with Facebook apps”.

As explained by Facebook:

“We regularly scan for domain names and apps that infringe our trademarks to protect people from abuse. We found that Namecheap’s proxy service, Whoisguard, registered or used 45 domain names that impersonated Facebook and our services, such as instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebo0k-login.com and whatsappdownload.site. We sent notices to Whoisguard between October 2018 and February 2020, and despite their obligation to provide information about these infringing domain names, they declined to cooperate.”

Facebook filed a similar suit against a company called OnlineNIC back in October, which is part of The Social Network’s broader push to institute more significant penalties for those that seek to scam Facebook users through various means.

Indeed, in the last year, Facebook has filed several lawsuits related to platform violations.

  • In March 2019, Facebook filed suit against several companies over the sale of fake followers and likes, following a ruling by New York’s Attorney General that selling fake social media followers and likes is essentially illegal
  • In August 2019, Facebook launched another set of legal proceedings against two app developers over ‘click injection fraud’, which simulates clicks in order to extract ad revenue.
  • In December, Facebook announced legal action against a company which used Facebook posts and ads to trick users into downloading malware, in order to steal their personal information.

And while each individual case is small in itself, Facebook will be hoping that these proceedings can help establish legal precedent for such violations, leading to more significant penalties for those undertaking the same, a key dissuasion measure.

It’s good to see Facebook upping its action on these fronts. All of these scams cause significant community damage, and all are on the rise. The FBI reported last year that losses from internet crimes were up 91% in 2018, with cybercrime costing people more than $2.7 billion in the US alone. Heck, even the Nigerian Prince Scam still brings in over $700k per year, with older web users, in particular, vulnerable to such deception. 

While it may happen online, it’s still illegal, and the suffering these scams cause is felt in the real world. As such, Facebook should be punishing these groups to the full extent, and highlighting to others the penalties they risk by engaging in the same. 

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