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Facebook spam: Man accused of sending 27 million fake messages

August 5, 2011 | 11:04 am

The accused "Spam King" was in the can –- at least briefly.

Sanford Wallace was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Jose on Thursday and turned himself into the FBI. His alleged crime? Sending 27 million bogus messages via Facebook, compromising about 500,000 user accounts in three separate waves, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

This is how the paper described it:

Each time, the 43-year-old Las Vegas resident hacked into then-Palo Alto-based Facebook's computer network and sent spam programs to users of the popular social networking site, the indictment said.

He got past the site's spam filters and infiltrated real accounts, logging on as strangers and posting the spam messages to their friends' walls. That way, people would log onto Facebook and think their friends sent them a link to a website.

Although such messages often look fishy, some users would invariably click on the link -- such as "gayestprofile.com" -- and enter their name and password on the ensuing site. Wallace would log in as a new user and send out more spam, and he would get paid each time he drove traffic to the spam site.

Facebook officials said they spent a lot of time and money fixing the system to prevent future attacks.
The FBI investigated for two years, according to the Mercury News. Wallace was indicted on July 6 and was released on $100,000 bond after a hearing Thursday.


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-- Maria L. LaGanga in San Francisco

Photo: A screen shot of a Facebook page. Credit: Thierry Roge / Reuters