Facebook's campus at 1601 Willow Rd. in Menlo Park, Calif.
Facebook’s campus at 1601 Willow Rd. in Menlo Park, Calif. ()

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc. has turned to the federal courts in hopes of stopping a user the company’s lawyers at Perkins Coie say has scammed it out of hundreds of thousands in advertising dollars.

Martin Grunin purchased advertising accounts using the names and accounts of legitimate marketing companies he never worked for, according to a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court Tuesday. He sold some of his Facebook advertising accounts online to the highest bidder, according to Perkins Coie attorneys Judith Jennison and Joseph Cutler­. Others he used to post sexually explicit ads for casual-dating services.

Facebook revoked Grunin’s authorization, sent him multiple cease-and-desist letters and disabled at least 70 of his accounts since 2011, all to no avail, according to the complaint.

“Defendant Martin Grunin is a serial offender who has repeatedly violated Facebook’s terms and applicable law,” the complaint states.

Facebook claims Grunin used multiple aliases to purchase the advertising accounts, posing as “Kayla Stewart” from advertising company Thinkmodo and “Colan Neilson” from Imprezzio Marketing. Grunin purchased ads worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the tabs of advertising companies he never worked for, costing Facebook $340,000 for which it still hasn’t been reimbursed, according to the Perkins Coie attorneys.

They allege Grunin also sold the ill-gotten Facebook accounts online, “to individuals who could not otherwise obtain a Facebook advertising account because they had been previously banned by Facebook, did not have adequate credit, or did not intend to pay Facebook for the ads,” according to the complaint.

The complaint quotes a post Grunin allegedly submitted to an online forum advertising one such account for a minimum price of $30,000.

Grunin also posted casual-dating ads depicting a woman with a profane caption, which redirected Facebook users to third-party websites that paid Grunin for the referrals, according to the complaint, which accuses Grunin of breach of contract for violating Facebook’s user agreement, as well as violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the state Computer Data Access and Fraud Act for accessing Facebook’s protected computers without authorization.

No attorney has yet entered an appearance for Grunin.

Perkins Coie partner Jennison declined to comment Tuesday. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Contact the reporter at mkendall@alm.com.