Meta cracks down on trademark phishing scams with 39.000 fake websites

Meta (Previously Facebook) is taking legal action against malicious persons allegedly committing phishing scams by impersonating Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Since 2019, defendants have created over 39,000 websites to replicate Meta’s services, and then tricked users into collecting login information, according to the company.

Meta explained in a blog post that the defendants used a relay service, Ngrok, to send internet traffic to the phony login pages they created, all while concealing their identity and location.

Those who clicked the phishing link were brought to a login page that resembled Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp. When the user attempted to log in, defendants would collect their victims’ usernames and passwords.

“By creating and disseminating URLs for the Phishing Websites, Defendants falsely represented themselves to be Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp, without Plaintiffs’ authorization,” the complaint notes.

“Plaintiffs were adversely affected by Defendants’ phishing scheme and suffered, without limitation, damage to their brands and reputations, harm to their users,” it added.

Meta noticed that these attacks started ramping up in March of this year and worked with Ngrok to suspend the URLs that the bad actors were using.

The defendants allegedly used the company’s trademarked logos and names on their fake login pages to mislead users.

Back in 2019, Instagram introduced a tool to help combat phishing attacks, which lets you verify that the emails you receive are actually from Instagram. Meta’s brands aren’t the only high-profile companies affected by these scams, for example, Google reported in October a large-scale phishing campaign that attempted to steal creators’ login cookies on YouTube, gaining access to their username and password as a result.

“We proactively block and report instances of abuse to the hosting and security community, domain name registrars, privacy/proxy services, and others,” wrote Jessica Romero, Meta’s director of platform enforcement and litigation in the company’s blog post.