According to sources, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating hacks of Facebook advertising accounts and used them to promote various affiliate marketing schemes. According to one source, It seems that over tens of millions of fraudulent advertising may have been billed to various advertisers without their consent, making this possibly the biggest advertising related hack of Facebook.
The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office out of Northern California have convened a grand jury to investigate this case, and have subpoenaed at least a dozen advertiser and affiliates. The Grand Jury is scheduled to hear testimony this next week of several major affiliates and network owners, who are alleged to have known about the scheme but were not themselves involved or a target of the investigation. Several well known marketers have retained attorneys and have been told to “lay low” during these investigations.
Sources have also told PMI that those being investigated were able to use hacked email addresses from various advertisers to not only access Facebook advertising accounts illegally, but also were fool Facebook into giving them new accounts under these advertisers and apply illegally for credit.
Additionally, is also alleged that some of these accounts were then “sold” to friends and associates of the potential defendants for upwards of $20,000 each in an underground affiliate marketplace run over Skype. Another source told PMI that Agents with the FBI had “raided” an office in Houston Texas looking for information about these hacks from a business associate.
This of course raises some questions about the poor security measures taken by Facebook to protect advertising accounts. It’s easy to blame the hackers, but Facebook could face liability from displeased customers that have lost revenue as a result of the unlawful activity.
This story replaces an earlier story which named two possible defendants in the case. That story has been retracted at the request of parties involved until there is further clarification and the Grand Jury is done. We will be updating readers with additional information as it becomes verified.