Facebook said Thursday it filed a lawsuit against company founder Basant Gajjar, LeadCloak, alleging that it helped coronavirus scammers run deceptive ads on Facebook and Instagram by selling “cloaking” software. Basant Gajjar, a Bangkok-based Indian man, has been running a non-registered business in California offering clocking services since 2016. The lawsuit was filed before the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, as reported.
Cloaking is a deceptive technique that hinders ad review systems by disguising the nature of the website associated with an ad. Cloaking software fools ad-review systems by showing them entirely innocent websites connected to each advertisement. Whereas consumers can see one product in the ad, the ad will actually take them to a website for a product that is completely different.
Leadcloak’s software has been used to conceal websites with COVID-19-related fraud, cryptocurrencies, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, and fake news sites. Some of those cloaked websites have used famous celebrities ‘images. LeadCloak’s software also targeted a number of other technology companies including Google, Oath, WordPress, Shopify, and others.
Facebook has taken technical compliance action against Leadcloak and users that have found to have used the software. Facebook further stated:
“This suit will also further our efforts to identify Leadcloak’s customers and take additional enforcement actions against them. This action is one of a number of efforts we are taking to protect our users and hold people who abuse our systems accountable in Court.”
Last year, Facebook loosened its ban on blockchain– and cryptocurrency-related advertising, allowing more companies working on those technologies to promote their efforts social network. Scammers target Facebook users with sponsored ads for fake cryptocurrencies. These fake ad scammers now use sophisticated cloaking technology to replicate the popular website or advertise a “big” investment opportunity in a nonexistent cryptocurrency.
In short, scammers are always finding their way, the best we can do is always be alert, remember the old line “if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably.”