US & Canada

Paul Ceglia charged with trying to defraud Facebook

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A New York businessman has been charged with trying to defraud Facebook by claiming he was owed a 50% share of the social media company, prosecutors say.

Paul Ceglia is accused of fabricating and destroying evidence in a lawsuit asking for half-ownership of the firm.

Arrested at his home in Wellsville, New York, Mr Ceglia was due in court on Friday afternoon.

US 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 Harvard University student, agreed to do programming work for Mr Ceglia and his fax business, say prosecutors.

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

But Mr Zuckerberg said he had not yet conceived the idea for the social network at the time.

Facebook's lawyers said the contract that Mr Ceglia and Mr Zuckerberg signed in 2003 was to develop street-mapping software.

Mr Ceglia subsequently doctored the document to insert Facebook references, it is alleged.

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