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Ceglia Sues For 50% Facebook, Old Emails as Evidence 350

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the worth-looking-at-the-tapes dept.
Kamiza Ikioi writes "A lawsuit by Paul Ceglia contains never-before-seen emails from Mark Zuckerberg. The emails, if they prove to be real, could be the most damning evidence to date against Zuckerberg's business dealings in the time leading up to 'The Face Book' and just after. They paint a picture of a Zuckerberg more sinister than portrayed in the movie The Social Network, actively out to sucker his investors about the site, including Ceglia. FTA: 'Zuckerberg writes Ceglia an email telling him he's thinking of shutting down the Facebook site, because he's too busy to work on it and there's little interest in it among students. (This is while Facebook is growing like crazy). Ceglia gets really pissed off, and starts accusing Zuckerberg of pulling "criminal stunts."' Among the emails is one where Mark Zuckerberg agrees to split Facebook with Ceglia 50/50. If the emails are proven legitimate, Ceglia may own 50% of Facebook."
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Ceglia Sues For 50% Facebook, Old Emails as Evidence

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  • by Ferante125 (971811) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:33PM (#35800566) Journal
    a consolation for us non-billionaires
  • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:34PM (#35800586)
    Is anyone else having trouble parsing this sentence?

    They paint a picture of a Zuckerberg more sinister than portrayed in the movie The Social Network actively out to sucker his investors that the site, including Ceglia.

    Either I'm having trouble with English, or the editors are...

    • by Reilaos (1544173)

      No luck here. One of us has stopped understanding English, and I'm sure it isn't me...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They paint a picture of Mark Zuckerberg which is more sinister than that portrayed in the movie "The Social Network", seeming to suggest that he was actively out to sucker the investors on that site, including this "Ceglia" character (I assume he's the jock?).

      There, FTFY.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      I think it just needs a single comma added: "They paint a picture of a Zuckerberg more sinister than portrayed in the movie The Social Network, actively out to sucker his investors that the site, including Ceglia."

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Now I understand why Time made Zuckerberg their 'corporate' man of the year, it all makes sense now. You just have to steal more than anyone else millions of peoples privacy, the idea, a whole bunch of code and the investors money. Somehow I think the corporate douches at time have completely lost it when it comes to what most people consider a valued human traits.

  • Stupid Zuckerberg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:34PM (#35800598) Homepage Journal

    To put any of his swindles into writing.

    Still, we know how to fake an email header, right? What's going to prove these are genuine?

    • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:41PM (#35800702)

      Well, depending on when this happened University mail systems may have been involved. One or both parties or someone that was forwarded or copied on the messages may have be using a commercial e-mail provider. There are a lot of scenarios where there could be independent 3rd party copies of these messages.

      Even if no copies come to light immediately Zuckerberg's lawyers are going to be very, very careful about claiming they are false if there is ANY chance they are real. Nothing would go worse for them than claiming the messages as forgeries and then having someone come forward with third party proof.

      • Re:Stupid Zuckerberg (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:56PM (#35800922) Homepage Journal

        Well, depending on when this happened University mail systems may have been involved. One or both parties or someone that was forwarded or copied on the messages may have be using a commercial e-mail provider. There are a lot of scenarios where there could be independent 3rd party copies of these messages.

        Even if no copies come to light immediately Zuckerberg's lawyers are going to be very, very careful about claiming they are false if there is ANY chance they are real. Nothing would go worse for them than claiming the messages as forgeries and then having someone come forward with third party proof.

        Lawyers tread carefully? I don't think they will. They will assail Mr Ceglia's character, the veracity of his claim, that his email copies are the only ones which exist, etc. I don't see them holding anything back. Burden of proof is on Mr. Ceglia. If he can get his email provider to back him up then he's got a stronger case.

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:53PM (#35800872) Journal
      The $1,000 check that Zuckerberg cashed, hard to fake that.

      Zuckerberg has got to be one of the biggest con-artists of the 21st century, why doesn't he just admit it and give these people 10 billion and move on? What's 10 billion when you already have 50 billion? Still more money than he could spend in his lifetime.
      • by ZorinLynx (31751)

        This is what sickens me. These people have more money than anyone could ever possibly spend, yet STILL manage to be greedy, cheap bastards.

        I mean holy shit, if I had $50 billion dollars, I could make sure that not a single one of my close friends would ever have to work again, and I would hardly notice.

        • Re:Stupid Zuckerberg (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @06:05PM (#35801036) Homepage Journal

          This is what sickens me. These people have more money than anyone could ever possibly spend, yet STILL manage to be greedy, cheap bastards.

          I mean holy shit, if I had $50 billion dollars, I could make sure that not a single one of my close friends would ever have to work again, and I would hardly notice.

          We think alike. But we're rational. We're also not billionaires (or potential billionaires.)

          Money changes people. Anyone who doubts it should read up the sad tales of lottery jackpot winners - the first to win a $40m jackpot in Pennsylvania (IIRC) was broke in a couple years, more so, he was called by his bank as they inquired as to when he would make good on the last few checks he had written as he was seriously overdrawn (but being a man of means and an account which once hosted several figures to the left of the decimal point, they were keeping him covered.) He was, of course, ruined and all his family and friends he showered with gifts were reluctant to return the cars and houses.

          Bill Gates may have been a decent enough fellow at one time, but even he wanted to RUIN Java as he saw it as a threat to his empire. Really. The man was already worth more than a billion and he wanted more, more, moar.

          I think the same intoxicant caught up with Mark Zuckerberg. At one time he probably would have been thrilled to have enough to by a modest house and a sports car. Now it's snowballing and he wants to keep in snowballing for himself. Looks rather like it's beginning to melt.

          • by quizzicus (891184)
            Sounds to me like money doesn't change people.
          • Money changes some people. Others can still remain the same. As for people wasting all of their money when they get rich, they sound like mere overconfident idiots.

          • Actually, there are plenty of rational people that would do what is right with that kind of money. Shit, I wouldn't give a dime to anyone but my parents and my only sibling and even then it would be a set figure that would never be replenished. I would maybe throw my friend a few hundred thousand to day trade with under the understanding that it is my money and I get a cut. The rest of it would be sitting in some kind of fund that is designed to pay me monthly. Id imagine you could pull 5 percent a year on
          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            I think the same intoxicant caught up with Mark Zuckerberg. At one time he probably would have been thrilled to have enough to by a modest house and a sports car.

            Actually Zuckerberg has a modest (for a gazillionaire) house & he drives a "couple years old" Acura..

            http://gawker.com/#!5725833/this-is-mark-zuckerbergs-new-home [gawker.com]

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @06:07PM (#35801068)

          You don't get $50 billion by not being a greedy bastard. No one earns $50 billion honestly.

          • Re:Stupid Zuckerberg (Score:4, Informative)

            by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @11:02PM (#35803632) Journal
            Really?

            Ebay? Google? Yahoo? Unix? Craigslist? All greedy bastards?

            Ok maybe the people that started them aren't all 50 billionaires, but they all have more money than they know what to do with and I don't think they're all greedy bastards... or am I wrong?
          • Re:Stupid Zuckerberg (Score:5, Interesting)

            by metlin (258108) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @12:03AM (#35804038) Journal

            Your two statements are not mutually exclusive. One could be honest, yet greedy. A famous example would be Warren Buffett, who is perhaps the anti-thesis of the "evil, rich men" stereotype. However, he has quite honestly admitted that he is greedy, not because he covets wealth but because to him, money is a scorecard. And even so, he has shown himself to be a man of integrity - for instance, he has openly stated his disagreement with the concept of inheritance, and keeping in line with his beliefs, he has slated for most of his wealth (~90%) to be given away to various charitable organizations.

            And unlike Zuckerberg, he is completely self-made, and is worth just as much (and has much more tangible holdings to his name, too).

          • by Sara Chan (138144)

            You don't get $50 billion by not being a greedy bastard. No one earns $50 billion honestly.

            Wrong. E.g. Warren Buffett.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by erroneus (253617)

          Indeed, it takes a special kind of sick mind to think they need and even deserve that kind of stuff. If it were me, I would be into some SERIOUS charity work. Trouble is, I would be really picky about who/what deserves things.

          (For one thing, I would not contribute to anything I consider to be voluntary misery -- this includes various forms of addiction and other conditions such as obesity. Those things just bug me. I know that when I think i am doing too much of anything, I usually take a moment to eval

          • by jjohnson (62583) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @06:54PM (#35801644) Homepage

            Thank you for stopping, because I threw up in my mouth a little when you referred to addiction as a "voluntary misery".

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by erroneus (253617)

              Exactly how is addiction NOT voluntary misery? The decision to start is voluntary. The decision to persist is voluntary. And the risks are ALL too well known in advance. I'd really love to hear a reasonable counterpoint to my statements of simple truth. To say that people are not responsible for their addictions is to say that people are not responsible for their actions. That is a difficult position to make stand.

              I enjoyed the Southpark position on alcoholism. "The victims" claimed it was a disease!

              • by jjohnson (62583)

                Have you ever been addicted to something? Heroin? Painkillers? Cocaine? Any actual experience of addiction?

          • As being a person recovering from addiction, I can tell you its not as easy as you think it is nor is it as hard as most addicted people say. Its definitely much, much harder than you think, bordering on a disease, but a disease it is not. You can kick it if you give it a about a year. The problem is that drugs (mine was alcohol) hijack you central nervous system's reward system making the drug seem more appealing than eating a meal when you are starving, sex when you are horny, or even drinking water when
            • by erroneus (253617)

              Looking back at what I wrote, I never said anything about being easy -- just that it is voluntary misery. And it is. The risks are well known in advance to most people as are the frequent results. I recall interviewing a crackwhore I met once. This person was clearly and obviously a once beautiful girl. But her teeth... ever see what meth does to teeth? It takes a LONG time to occur and her teeth were so far gone, they were not recognizable as teeth at all. And I asked her "if you knew what would hap

          • by metacell (523607)

            My SO has weight problems. Long before I met her, she did go to a doctor about them. They operated on her, and the operation was too successful. She almost became unable to eat, and almost starved to death. She got convulsions from potassium deficiency - but she still didn't want to reverse the operation. She'd rather die thin. Her relatives had to talk her into it, and she went back to being fat.

            Which is why I tend to be pretty annoyed when people assume obesity is voluntary. Contrary to popular belief, fa

            • by Berfert (831562)

              both diabetes and skin cancer are often caused by life-style choices.

              Type 2 Diabetes is often caused by life-style choices. Type 1 Diabetes is a medical condition caused by a failure of the pancreas to do it's job. I know you said "often", but the distinction between the two types is fairly significant.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Ha ha! You are wrong on so many levels. First, with $50bn you would become a very different person. Second, your "close" friends would never be content with how much you gave them, not to mention how they would fight to be "close" or how they would change in relation with you. And finally, if you really did make sure they had enough money not to ever work again, that would be about the fastest way to fuck up their lives. So you didn't get a single thing right.

        • If you become a billionaire I will be your best friend.
        • by lymond01 (314120)

          These people have more money than anyone could ever possibly spend, yet STILL manage to be greedy, cheap bastards.

          Let me reverse that for you and it will all make sense:

          These people are greedy, cheap bastards and because of this have more money than anyone could ever possibly spend.

        • by hey! (33014)

          These people have more money than anyone could ever possibly spend, yet STILL manage to be greedy, cheap bastards.

          You way you put that makes it sound like it's suppose to be self-contradictory. It's like you said, "I always eat like a pig but I'm STILL gaining weight," or "I've robbed every bank in town but I've STILL got these $%*# canvas money bags cluttering up my apartment."

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        I suspect because the moment he gives any away more folks will come out of the wood work insisting they are owed a slice of the pie too.

      • From what I remember of this suit, Zuckerberg did try to settle. Ceglia refused, he wants more. The fact that he thinks he can get it either shows he has good evidence, or he's insane.
    • by Spazmania (174582)

      If Zuckerberg cashed this guy's checks, he's in trouble. If there are no canceled checks... then this guy has nothing. Zip.

  • What is facebook? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by s-whs (959229) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:39PM (#35800670)
    I've not registered with facebook so I can't see much of it. Perhaps good.

    In any event, I wish slashdot would go back to the old days of more tech stuff, with more about programming etc. The latest version of afterstep, new C compilers, and of course other stuff such as physics. But too much business crap just and stuff about drivel level science (e.g. global warming deniers, which anyone can show as being nutters with nearly zero time spent) takes much of the fun away.

    Perhaps I'm misremembering, perhaps I'm getting different interests and don't want to select rubbish any more.

    Being philosophical: I think that's actually what old people have: They are tired of hearing the same old crap again and again from people. They see through the BS and have had enough...

    And all this business stuff is such BS, that will always remain, just like politicians are always bad, in just about all countries. These are given.
    • by swanzilla (1458281) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @05:44PM (#35800732) Homepage
      Also, I want a normal phone that makes phone calls. Now get off my lawn.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure you realize the nature of slashdot. As soon as the second news story was posted, people were complaining that slashdot was not as good as it used to be.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      You and me both. I remember when you might see seventy comments on an especially interesting story, back before passworded user accounts, and twenty or thirty was more usual.

  • My cousin, a lawyer, who practices in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, told me that I will never need to worry about someone suing me. Why?

    My Cousin: "No lawyer will try to sue someone without any money. Now, your employer . . . ? "

    I guess that Zuckerberg has too much money in his pockets.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      My cousin, a lawyer, who practices in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, told me that I will never need to worry about someone suing me. Why?

      My Cousin: "No lawyer will try to sue someone without any money. Now, your employer . . . ? "

      I guess that Zuckerberg has too much money in his pockets.

      Smells more like Mark Zuckerberg is alleged to have promised to share all the gold he can dig up if Paul Ceglia will spot him enough money for a shovel. Turns out the shovel unearths a rather massive amount of gold. Juries have no trouble at all in giving away someone's fortune if the feel they tried to cheat someone out of their share.

      I'm just curious what all of this could do to the stock value. If this sort of suit damages Facebook then its value could plummet. It's only so much servers and software,

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      My cousin, a lawyer, who practices in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, told me that I will never need to worry about someone suing me. Why?

      My Cousin: "No lawyer will try to sue someone without any money. Now, your employer . . . ? "

      I guess that Zuckerberg has too much money in his pockets.

      Your cousin must not do much divorce work. My ex keeps trying to squeeze me for more. My bank account is as shriveled as her heart.

  • Three possibilites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @06:03PM (#35801018)
    1. Ceglia has e-mails that can be proven to be genuine. 2. Ceglia has e-mails that can neither be proven to be genuine nor to be forged. 3. Ceglia has e-mails that can be proved to be forged.

    According to an article on www.businessinsider.com, "Paul and Iasia Ceglia are charged with 12 counts each of fourth-degree grand larceny and one count each of first-degree scheme to defraud" in what looks like a not very clever scam to get $200,000. That would destroy his credibility and therefore any chance to collect in case (2). And if the emails are forged, then I'd expect them to be provably forged, since Ceglia doesn't seem to be exactly a criminal mastermind.
    • by unassimilatible (225662) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @07:12PM (#35801838) Journal
      According to an article on www.businessinsider.com, "Paul and Iasia Ceglia are charged with 12 counts each of fourth-degree grand larceny and one count each of first-degree scheme to defraud" in what looks like a not very clever scam to get $200,000. That would destroy his credibility and therefore any chance to collect in case (2).

      No, character evidence is inadmissible, even in civil trials (unless defendant opens the door via testimony, i.e., "I'm a good person and would never fake e-mails.").

      IAALBNYLSDNROTALA (I Am A Lawyer But Not Your Lawyer So Don't Rely On This As Legal Advice)
    • by cultiv8 (1660093)
      And the fourth possibility: They settle out-of-court for an undisclosed sum, no one finds out if the emails are genuine or not.
  • Was convicted of Fraud before and tried to do this same thing in 2003. I have serious doubts to any validity of this.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Was convicted of Fraud before and tried to do this same thing in 2003. I have serious doubts to any validity of this.

      certainly does cast a shadow, but who is to say this wasn't entirely on the up and up?

      Judge and jury, I expect.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      The only difference is that Zuckerberg hasn't been convicted yet, its not like he isn't a fraudster himself.

    • I have serious doubts to any validity of this.

      It's good to be skeptical. I had my doubts last summer, despite feeling a bit of sympathy for David vs. that peckerhead Goliath.

      But now a big LA law firm has stood up and said, "this is worth our time." I doubt Ceglia can afford their rates without a proceeds-sharing agreement. They wouldn't work on a case they felt had no merits, and they wouldn't take on a case like this without doing some diligence.

      The only situation I see where the case has no merit is i

      • Are you kidding? This isn't about merit. It's a game of odds.

        This big law firm smells dollars, and lots of them. If they can squeeze any kind of settlement out of Zuck, it might be worth it just for their cut of the cash. They're in it for a big win, and for no other reason. This supposed email is what they'll hinge the whole case on.

        • This big law firm smells dollars, and lots of them.

          Right.

          If they can squeeze any kind of settlement out of Zuck, it might be worth it just for their cut of the cash.

          Which is the second scenario I outlined.

          They're in it for a big win, and for no other reason.

          Of course.

          This supposed email is what they'll hinge the whole case on.

          Well, no, the cashed check and the written contract are probably better, but the emails are corroborating evidence. And we can rest assured they spent a few dollars to have those e-m

  • Pretty Damning (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    These emails and the overall correspondence is rather damning. This is very typical of early stage companies, where people throw around all sorts of numbers, and since everyone is essentially arguing over something that at the time is worthless, X% of nothing is no big deal and entrepreneurs basically promise all sorts of things to get people to help them out of desperation, not fully realizing what they are promising because they are so drunk on their idea.

    However, once something becomes super valuable, ev

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 (705449)
      Not immature and short sighted at all when ceglia has a history of similar fraud
  • Does this mean that my Goldman issued Facebook shares are only worth half as much as they were? If a swindler issues shares for a company run by a swindler, doesn't that make them legit? Where's the SEC when you need them?
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @06:33PM (#35801382)

    "If the emails are proven legitimate..."

    How does that actually work? What's involved in the process of proving the legitimacy of an email? What's the standard of evidence? Can any nerd here answer how the legitimacy of emails gets validated?

    • They examine the shadows of the ones and zeros that make up the email. In some cases, you can notice discrepancies in the shadows that can only be explained if the bits were forged.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        They examine the shadows of the ones and zeros that make up the email. In some cases, you can notice discrepancies in the shadows that can only be explained if the bits were forged.

        Likewise, if the Evil Bit i set on even one of them, it's likely a fraud.

        Advice to would-be felons: Un-set the Evil Bit before pressing send. Outlook used to do this, but Ballmer had it changed when all his emails started disappearing.

    • by jjohnson (62583) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @07:00PM (#35801718) Homepage

      If Ceglia can produce copies of the emails from independent third parties like Harvard's email logs from 7 years ago, that's pretty good proof. As a felon already convicted of fraud, Ceglia has zero credibility, but if Harvard produced identical copies and said "these came from our archives in 2003", then the burden of proof is on Zuck that Harvard is either lying or somehow insecure in its logs.

    • As a first pass, you could run them through SpamAssassin. It's very good at pointing out faked SMTP headers.

      That could only serve to disprove, not prove, of course.

      See why signed coms are important?

  • I suspect Mr. Ceglia is SOL. The key is in the examination of any written contract(s) between Mssrs. Ceglia and Zuckerberg. Per uslawbooks.com and forgery: "Proving it involves reviewing the totality of the law regarding the facts in evidence. This includes the signatures, a competent analysis of the signatures and an understanding of the law as it applies to the case." I'm sure there will be a lot of money spent on this.

    Regarding the emails and IMs, unless Ceglia can dredge up the original electronic record archives from both his and Zuckerberg's contemporary mail servers, Ceglia's "emails" aren't worth squat. Looking back at Iran-Contra, what landed Reagan Administration officials in hot water was that the IBM Profs system email archives weren't purged, and provided a trail of authentication and non-repudiation for investigators. I have reason to doubt Mr. Ceglia is going to get a similar degree of audit-ability.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Looking back at Iran-Contra, what landed Reagan Administration officials in hot water was that the IBM Profs system email archives weren't purged, and provided a trail of authentication and non-repudiation for investigators. I have reason to doubt Mr. Ceglia is going to get a similar degree of audit-ability.

      Son, Iran Contra was about politics. This case is about Facebook! Real Power! If there isn't an audit trail, one will be made.

  • by leonbev (111395) on Tuesday April 12, 2011 @07:45PM (#35802172) Journal

    Arron Sorkin has a legitimate excuse to start writing the script for "Social Network 2: Payback Time" :)

  • by wordsnyc (956034) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @12:38AM (#35804246) Homepage

    Google him. He wrote the article, and, based on his past ethics, he's hardly above making this suit sound way stronger than it is. He has a history of market manipulation that the SEC did not find amusing.

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