Spammer Used Bogus Sex Tape to Lure Traffic, Suit Says

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — A "recidivist spammer and abuser of Facebook" orchestrated an elaborate scheme to nab traffic and sell volumes of it by using a bogus Justin Bieber-Selena Gomez sex tape in its ploy, according to a suit filed by Facebook on Friday.

Facebook says that Christopher Peter Tarquini for the past three years used custom software scripts to post deceptive messages, images and links on Facebook users' pages.

The links — including a doctored image of what appeared as a Bieber-Gomez sex tape — directed users to non-Facebook sites that earned Tarquini and his affiliates commission payments, Facebook claims in the lawsuit.  

"Tarquini orchestrated and participated in an elaborate scheme that inundated Facebook users with messages purporting to link to pornographic images of celebrities," said the suit, filed Friday at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. "The messages were deceptive."

Users were asked to copy and paste a verification code directly into their web browser, the suit said. This verification code initiated the hijacking of Facebook accounts.

"When Facebook users clicked on the messages, the messages (and suggestive images associates with those messages) were automatically shared with the users' Facebook friends, and the browsers of the users who clicked on the messages were redirected to marketing websites that paid Tarquini and his associates a commission for the referral traffic."

Facebook claimed it spent significant resources to stop the abuse, and that Tarquini continued to get access to Facebook after his account was terminated.

"Even after Facebook notified Tarquini that his conduct violated Facebook's rights, and even after Facebook terminated Tarquini's Facebook account and informed Tarquini that he was no longer authorized to access Facebook's website and services, Tarquini continued to access Facebook," Facebook said.

Facebook wants Tarquini restrained from access to Facebook, plus disgorgement and punitive damages for breach of contract, computer fraud and abuse, and violation of state and federal computer data access and fraud statutes.

View Facebook's sex tape-spammer lawsuit