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New York businessman charged with trying to defraud Facebook

  • A New York businessman has been charged with attempting to defraud Facebook by claiming he was owed a 50 percent share of the social media company, prosecutors said on Friday.

    Paul Ceglia is accused of fabricating and destroying evidence in the lawsuit asking for half-ownership of the social media site.

    Ceglia was arrested at his home in Wellsville, New York and appeared in court on Friday afternoon.

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the entrepreneur had been chasing a "quick payday based on a blatant forgery".

    In 2003, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, then a student at Harvard University, agreed to do programming work for Ceglia and his fax business.

    Ceglia later filed his lawsuit alleging that he and Zuckerberg had signed a two-page contract awarding him a 50 percent stake in Facebook.

    Zuckerberg has responded by saying he had not conceived the idea of Facebook at the time.

    Facebook's lawyers said the contract that Ceglia and Zuckerberg signed was to develop street-mapping software.

    Ceglia is alleged to have modified the document to insert Facebook references.