Facebook Details Ceglia Fraud, Pushes for Expedited Discovery in Ownership Case

Facebook has issued its most plainly-worded and specific attack yet against claims by Paul Ceglia that he owns part of the company. “The contract is a cut-and-paste job, the emails are complete fabrications,and this entire lawsuit is a fraud,” it declares as part of a court motion that would require Ceglia to quickly produce his still-scanty evidence.

The document then goes on to contradict specific parts of Ceglia’s story. While it openly acknowledges, as before, that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Ceglia had at one point entered in a business relationship, that’s where the similarities end.

Ceglia and Zuckerberg did exchange emails, and did sign an agreement, but their discussions and agreement concerned only some coding work that Zuckerberg performed for StreetFax.com,— a web site that posted photographs of traffic intersections for use by insurance adjustors. Zuckerberg and Ceglia never discussed Facebook and they never signed a contract concerning Facebook,— a fact that is not surprising given that Zuckerberg did not even conceive of Facebook until long after the purported contract was signed in April 2003.

Facebook then details where it believes Ceglia’s claims break down. Regarding the supposed contract that Ceglia and Zuckerberg signed:

The document is riddled with numerous tell-tale signs of fraud, such as the fact that page 1 (which purports to convey an interest in “The Face Book”) has different margins and formatting from page 2 (which contains the signatures, yet does not mention “The Face Book”). Moreover, although the purported contract is dated April 2003, page 1 refers to “StreetFax LLC” — an entity that was not created until August 2003.

And regarding the batch of emails Ceglia produced recently:

Defendants engaged digital forensic examiners to review all of Zuckerberg’s emails contained in the email account he used while a student at Harvard. That account contains emails from the 2003-2004 time period. The emails Ceglia quotes in his Amended Complaint do not exist in the account. They are complete fabrications.

It appears possible that Zuckerberg deleted the specific emails in question, but the onus is Ceglia to prove that the emails are real in the first place.

The rest of the document details Ceglia’s past issues with fraud, including new information about real estate scams he ran last decade, and explains the legal basis for the expedited discovery request.

One would expect Facebook to present evidence favoring its side of the case, and it’s for the court to decide how valid its claims are. More interesting is the company’s willingness to make all of these claims now, and for Zuckerberg to swear under oath that they’re true. The company wouldn’t do that if it thought Ceglia had any sort of case.

Ceglia and DLA Piper, the high-powered law firm that recently chose to represent him, haven’t yet commented on the latest claims.

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