A woman checks the Facebook Inc. site on her smartphone whilst standing against an illuminated wall bearing the Facebook Inc. logo in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Facebook Inc.s WhatsApp messaging service, with more than 100 million local users, is the most-used app in Brazil, according to an Ibope poll published on Dec. 15. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook announced Friday it has disrupted an extensive fake account scam operation that targeted popular publishers’ pages with false “likes” in an attempt to fraudulently gain more Facebook friends the scammers later planned to spam.

The company has been fighting the spam operation for six months, Shabnam Shaik, a technical program manager at Facebook, wrote in a post on its security blog Friday.

The unknown group behind the effort had created large numbers of fake accounts, which then “liked” the publishers’ pages and posted comments on them.

The accounts Facebook found were made to appear as if they were located in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries, Shaik wrote.

The group behind the activities used “sophisticated means that try to mask the fact that the accounts are part of the same coordinated operation. They used tricks to avoid detection, including redirecting their traffic through ‘proxies’ that disguised their location,” she wrote.

Facebook believes the campaign’s intent was for the fake accounts to deceptively gain new Facebook friend connections by liking and interacting primarily with publishers’ pages so that later those friends could be sent spam.

The social media company was able to remove a “substantial” number of fake likes from the sites, it said, estimating that all but 1% of the affected pages that had more than 10,000 likes would see a drop of no more than 3% in their likes.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: USA Today, Elizabeth Weise