Update on eBay vs Digital Point Solutions / Shawn Hogan

  • 0
  • May 21, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

This afternoon I’ve been reading through some of the recent filings in the eBay Inc. v. Digital Point Solutions, Inc. et al case whereby the plaintiff eBay Inc. alleged Defendants engaged in cookie stuffing to defraud Plaintiff.

So far 80 documents have been filed in the case but the most interesting is number 68 which is the Second Amended Complaint against all defendants. Filed by eBay Inc.. (Eberhart, David) (Filed on 3/26/2009) (Entered: March 26, 2009).

Below are some quotes from this Second Amended Complaint which mentions an “advertising network” which I assume is the Digital Point Coop network which most SEO’s will be familiar with.

eBay is informed and believes and, on that basis, alleges that DPS and KFC each accomplished their cookie stuffing through software programs and/or code that, unbeknownst to the user, redirected the user’s computer to the eBay website without the user actually clicking on an eBay advertisement link, or even becoming aware that they had left the page they were previously viewing. As a result, the eBay site would be prompted to drop an eBay cookie on the user’s computer even though the user never clicked on an eBay advertisement or even realized that their computer had ever visited the eBay site. DPS and KFC stuffed a large number of Internet users, with the expectation and intention that some subset of those users would later come to eBay and take a Revenue Action.

On or about June 2007, eBay undertook an investigation into suspected cookie stuffing by the Hogan Group and the Dunning Group. eBay was able to verify the existence of the two schemes and to track specific instances of cookie stuffing through several different methods.

53. eBay first ran its own tests and was able to observe and confirm fraudulent cookie stuffing by both the Hogan Group and the Dunning Group.
a. For example, on or about June 5, 2007, an eBay employee visited the website www.drago-sim.com using a secure computer that had its IP address masked (to overcome countermeasures that prevented cookies from being stuffed onto computers with San Jose IP addresses) and that was equipped to monitor and record Internet activity occurring on the computer. The website www.drago-sim.com was a participant in DPS’s advertising network and contained a DPS-controlled banner ad. Although the eBay employee never clicked on, or requested, any eBay ad or link to an eBay website, the Hogan Group’s code in the DPS-controlled banner ad secretly redirected the computer being used by the eBay employee to an eBay website, and a DPS-associated cookie was dropped. eBay observed an identical cookie stuff by the Hogan Group on the same date by visiting the site www.songlyrics.com, which was also a participant in the DPS ad network and which also contained a DPS-controlled banner ad.

Having confirmed the ongoing cookie stuffing by both the Hogan Group and the Dunning Group, eBay next set out to determine the extent of that unlawful
activity. On or about June 8-19, 2007, eBay made certain alterations to its website to both detect further evidence of the cookie stuffing and, if found, to assess the volume of cookie stuffing by the Hogan Group and the Dunning Group. eBay placed a special “gif” image on the eBay.com home page. This special gif was served to any browser receiving an eBay cookie. eBay had observed that Defendants’ cookie stuffing schemes caused the user’s browser to be secretly redirected to eBay’s home page for only a short period of time—sufficient time for the cookie to be stuffed and little or no more.

The cumulative results of the investigation demonstrated that over 99% of the traffic directed by DPS and KFC during the time period of the investigation did not receive the gif image, and was therefore fraudulent cookie stuffing traffic. During the short period of this investigation, the data demonstrated that the Hogan Group had stuffed over 650,000 cookies and the Dunning Group had stuffed close to 20,000 cookies.

Free of charge. Unsubscribe anytime.