Facebook files yet another lawsuit — This time against a Chinese company for tricking people into installing malware and stealing their account information

Facebook has accused ILikeAd Media International of using 'celeb bait' and cloaking to lure users to into clicking on deceptive adsUnsplash

  • Facebook is suing the ILikeAd Media International, a Chinese marketing firm, and its owners for trying to trick users into installing malware.
  • The social networking giant has accused the organisation of creating malware, tricking people into installing it and then stealing their account information.
  • Compromised user accounts were used to peddle ads promoting counterfeit goods, diet pills, and male enhancement supplements.
Ad fraud seems to be on the rise as Facebook sues a Chinese company — ILikeAd Media International — for using deceptive ads to trick users into installing malware.

The social networking giant filed a similar lawsuit in August against two Chinese app makers that users bots to generate ad clicks. Another lawsuit was filed in March against a pair of Ukrainians using malware to steal user data.

Online ad fraud is set to reach $50 billion by 2025 to become the second-largest source of criminal income in the world, according to the World Federation of Advertisers ( WFA).

Lawsuit against ILikeAdMedia

This time, Facebook has accused ILikeAd Media and its owners — Chen Xiao Cong and Huang Tao — of committing ad fraud. They allegedly developed malware, tricked users into installing it and then stole their account information.

Once they had access to the account, Cong and Huang used the victim's money to buy ads for fake products — like diet pills, male enhancement supplements, and counterfeit goods.


"We have refunded victims whose accounts were used to run unauthorized ads and helped them to secure their accounts," said Facebook in a blog post. The company has reportedly doled out over $4 million in reimbursements.

Luring user with 'celeb bait' and cloaking

The lawsuit filed by Facebook says that the hackers used tricks like 'celeb bait' and 'cloaking' to lure users into clicking on their ads.

'Celeb bait' is a subset of what's commonly known as 'clickbait' — hackers use images of celebrities in their ads to get people to click on them.

That's on the user side of things. In order to avoid detection by Facebook is where cloaking comes in. It allows the hacker to display a valid landing page to Facebook's systems while a different version goes through to Facebook's users.

"Cloaking schemes are often sophisticated and well organized, making the individuals and organizations behind them difficult to identify and hold accountable," said Facebook.

"Creating real-world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity of our platform," it added.

See also:
Google, Facebook and their story behind controlling 60% of India's digital ads

Angry publishers and resigned advertisers: Facebook's facing an 'untimely black eye' following an ad fraud lawsuit

Indian marketers spend nearly 20% of their advertising budget on tackling ad fraud: MMA's Ad Fraud Benchmark Report