FTC sues dating site Match for using fake love interest ads to get customers to buy subscriptions

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How to spot a scammer

Or maybe it was a bot? The U. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced it has sued Match Group , the owner of just about all the dating apps — including Match, Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, PlentyofFish and others — for fraudulent business practices. According to the FTC, Match tricked hundreds of thousands of consumers into buying subscriptions, exposed customers to the risk of fraud and engaged in other deceptive and unfair practices.

The suit focuses only on Match.

used fake romantic prospects to dupe users into subscribing, the FTC alleges Dating sites and apps are often used to perpetuate fraud, federal officials AD. In the world of online dating, Match is a heavy hitter.

By Nicolas Vega. September 25, pm Updated September 25, pm. Dating web site Match. Between June and May , close to , subscriptions were generated this way, the FTC said. And it withheld messages from those accounts to its members — while freely forwarding them to non-members, the lawsuit said. Between June and May , approximately If customers disputed the charges they incurred and lost the dispute, Match would still deny them access to the paid-for services, the lawsuit says.

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Online Dating Scams and How to Protect Yourself

So who am I to cast doubt on the trustworthiness of dating sites? Worse, the lawsuit says, when users complained or tried to get their money back, Match would deny it did anything wrong. I reached out to Match but no one got back to me.

Dating web site has been touting bogus profiles tied to “romance scams” to boost its membership, according a new lawsuit.

The Federal Trade Commission is suing Match. The agency also alleges Match unfairly exposed consumers to the possibility of fraud and making it difficult for users to cancel their subscriptions. Match allows users to create profiles free of charge but requires upgrading to a paid subscription if they want to respond to messages. The company would notify users when someone expressed an interest in them but many of the accounts that triggered the messages had already been flagged by Match as fraudulent, the FTC alleges.

In contrast, existing subscribers were prevented from receiving email communications from fraudulent accounts. In some months between and , more than half of the instant messages and favorites that consumers received came from accounts that Match identified as fraudulent, according to the complaint. The FTC has misrepresented internal emails and relied on cherry-picked data to make outrageous claims and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these claims in court.

No agreement could be reached, however, leading to the FTC suit. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. All rights reserved About Us. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.

FTC sues Match Group: Fake love interest ads tricked consumers into subscriptions

The Washington Post recently reported what sounds like a match made in Hades: online dating sites are now hooking up with artificial-intelligence startups that generate fake faces for use in ads. The dating sites hope this will enable them to project more diversity, while the AI startups are counting on dating sites to help normalize their disconcerting technology. Having AI-generated people lure us to dating sites might sound like one further slide into sci-fi dystopia.

owned by IAC, for allegedly using fake love interest ads to trick consumers into paying for a subscription to dating site (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan.

C hristopher Russell owned a small bar in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, but, like a lot people these days, figured he had better odds hooking up online. Russell was soon browsing rows of enticing women. Shortly after creating his account, he got an alert that one of them had viewed his profile. Her picture, however, was blurred. In order to see more details and contact her, he had to buy credits. But the experience was increasingly disappointing. Bloggers poured over the data, estimating that of the 5.

A whopping 59 percent of all online traffic — not just dating sites — is generated by bots, according to the tech analyst firm, Are You a Human. A bot. The dude hunting you down in Call of Duty? The strangers hitting you up for likes on Facebook? Yep, them too. Spammers are using them to lure victims on Tinder, according to multiple studies by Symantec, the computer security firm.

FTC sues Tinder owner Match Group for placing fake ads

Match , the owner of Match. Could he be the one? Although Match sends these messages to users, it will not allow the user to respond to any messages or find out more about who is looking at their profile unless the user pays for a subscription. The FTC further alleges that the messages are actually from scammers and not love interests, and that Match knew this when sending the message to the user.

According to the FTC, many consumers fell for the scheme and paid for subscriptions in order to reply to emails of love interests, only to find out that the one on the other end was a scammer. Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation.

Posted: Sep 25,

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. The FTC alleged that Match. It also alleges that Match relied on deceptive email marketing tactics whereby some users were coerced into signing up for the paid service under false pretenses. The dating company intends to challenge the FTC in court, according to a company statement.

According to the complaint, free Match. Match maintains that email messages exchanged by users have an extremely low fraud rate — less than 1 percent since Still, the online dating world is fraught with fake bots and spam accounts; over time, dating services have found algorithmic solutions to curb their proliferation. Tinder and its ilk — Bumble, Hinge, CoffeeMeetsBagel — are free for users, although there is the option to pay for them. As Rebecca Jennings wrote for The Goods , these apps are applying to dating services the freemium pricing model used in online games.

When it comes to online dating, however, the reason people choose to upgrade to the payment models are far more varied than with a typical gaming app. However, the premise of a service like Match. Although Match. The FTC alleges Match misled customers with that guarantee.

FTC sues owner for tricking users with fake connections

The dating sites hope this will enable them to project more diversity, while the AI startups are counting on dating sites to help normalize their disconcerting technology. Of course, using AI to generate fake people is much easier to scale. So dating sites may find that AI-generated individuals just stoke user distrust. You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism.

We thank you for your time and your trust.

Dating sites have been using stock photos, models and actors in their ads since inception, as have some users. And that’s better for customer.

At Match we want to ensure that you have a safe, friendly experience on the site. Remember that on Match you you are fully in control of your search and can choose to take things at your own pace. The approach that members take to get to know you will always vary. The sort of photos they use as well as the language of the personal ad can help you decide whether the member is genuinely looking for a partner or not.

A scammer is anyone using match. Our moderation team manually check photos and personal ads across the site and a built-in screening system helps identify suspicious accounts, remove them and prevent re-registration. While we are confident that our measures ensure a high level of security, we urge members to maintain vigilance while dating online and report any suspicious profiles to safeguard other members.

Commentary: Online dating has enough problems without adding fake AI-generated people

While many legitimate websites help to bring people together every day, stories of online dating scams are a regular occurrence. Facebook scams: will they take complaints about fake adverts seriously? The majority of fraudulent cases involve someone setting up a fake identity using stolen photos and pretending to start a relationship with their victim. Never share your financial details with someone you meet through an online dating website. Personal information, such as your date of birth, address and passwords should also be kept secret.

When you sign up to a website, check the small print on how it verifies new users.

Dating site let scammers contact free users in order to push them into OKCupid and PlentyOfFish), for allegedly using fake love interest ads to.

Online daters beware: Next time you receive a love message from a stranger , you should probably curb your urge to respond. This week, Match. The lawsuit, filed against Match. The FTC contends that, in order to encourage users with free accounts to buy subscriptions, the dating site lured them with fake emails from nonexistent accounts. The agency estimated that, between June and May , Match. More than , of the targeted users signed up for paid services within 24 hours of receiving the message.

Scams involving dating sites and other romance-related services are the most common type of consumer complaints filed with the FTC. We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience. But advertising revenue helps support our journalism. To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.

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