Paul Ceglia arrested and charged for an attempt to defraud Facebook
A man who claimed he owned a major stake in Facebook was arrested and charged for a multibillion dollar scheme to defraud the social network site and its owner.
According to Manhattan federal court, Paul Ceglia allegedly "doctored, fabricated and destroyed evidence" to support his false claim that he was promised a 50% share in Facebook by its owner Mark Zuckerberg.
Mr. Ceglia, 39 years old, was arrested by federal agents at his home in Wellsville, New York. He is scheduled to make an appearance at a courthouse in Buffalo, law enforcement officials said.
According to the complaint, Mr. Ceglia entered into a contract with Mr. Zuckerberg, who was then a student at Harvard University. In the contract Mr. Zuckerberg as though agreed to do some programming work for Mr. Ceglia and his online business in exchange for a fee.
In 2010, Mr. Ceglia filed a lawsuit against Mr. Zuckerberg, accusing Mr. Zuckerberg of promising at least a 50% interest in "The Face Book" project that ultimately became Facebook Inc.
According to the latest criminal complaint, Mr. Ceglia's claim was false. Prosecutors accused him of replacing one page of the real contract with a doctored page making it appear as though Mr. Zuckerberg had agreed to provide him with a stake in Facebook.
"We commend the United States Attorney for charging Ceglia with federal crimes in connection with his fraudulent lawsuit against Facebook. Ceglia used the federal court system to perpetuate his fraud and will now be held accountable for his criminal scheme," said Orin Snyder, an attorney for Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg.
Mr. Ceglia faces one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Each of them carries up to 20 years in prison.