Today, Facebook filed separate lawsuits in federal court against four individuals providing services intended to artificially inflate likes and followers of Instagram accounts, a practice known as fake engagement. Defendants Sean Heilweil and Jarrett Lusso, from New York, provided their service using the website boostgram.com. Defendants Laila Abou Trabi and Robin Abou Trabi, based in Dubai, used the website instant-fans.com.
Boostgram used a network of bots to automate the delivery of likes and followers of Instagram accounts – a practice known as fake engagement. On their website, Boostgram claimed to offer users a way to “increase Instagram exposure” – Boostgram profited from their services.
Instant-fans.com also used a network of bots and automation software to deliver fake engagement to their customers’ Instagram accounts. In addition to artificially inflating Instagram likes and followers, Instant-fans.com also offered fake engagement services for Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other web services. They provide fake engagement services to both individual customers as well as other fake engagement services known as “commercial resellers” of fake engagement.
This week Facebook also enforced against businesses running online scams targeting users. Facebook disabled accounts and sent cease and desist letters to seven businesses located in Asia and Europe that were defrauding online users who purchased items from their sites.
Each of the companies used Facebook and Instagram to post ads for consumer products. When someone clicked the link in the ad to buy a product, the user was redirected to a third-party website to complete their purchase. After paying for the item, the user either never received the item or received an item that is different than the item described in the ad. In all cases, people were unable to return items or obtain a refund.
According to Facebook:
“Today’s legal actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to protecting users, enforcing our policies and holding people accountable for abusing our services.”