3 Men Sued by eBay for Alleged ‘Cookie Surfing'

Oliver Sanders
SAN JOSE, Calif. — In news of particular interest to adult webmasters, eBay has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against three men for allegedly participating in fraudulent “cookie surfing” schemes on eBay’s site.

Shawn Hogan, Brian Dunning , Todd Dunning and 20 unnamed defendants were named in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

Cookie surfing is a practice wherein one party will force placement of a cookie onto a user’s computer, typically without the user knowing that he or she has visited the site that placed the cookie. The suit alleges that DPS and KFC engaged in cookie surfing intended to defraud eBay.

According to the filing, “DPS and KFC each accomplished their cookie surfing through software programs and/or code that, unbeknownst to the user, redirected the user to the eBay website without the user actually clicking on the eBay advertisement link or even becoming aware that they had left the page they were previously viewing.”

The filing goes on to state that the defendants were using the stuffed cookies to receive payment from future visits and purchases users made on eBay that were not a result of the defendants’ placed advertisements for eBay.

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants “used technological measures to prevent eBay from discovering their wrongdoing.”

eBay contends that the defendants used images placed on their web pages that were too small for the user to detect and JavaScript coding in web pages to enable their cookie surfing. The report sites that the alleged activities took place from December 2003 until June 2007 and that each defendant aggregated more than $5,000 from them.

The company is suing for compensatory, treble, exemplary and punitive damages as well as restitution.