FTC Fines Online Dating Site For Using 'Fake, Computer-Generated Profiles' To Lure Guys Into Buying Premium Memberships

from the because-guys dept

In the past, we’ve written about lawsuits involving dating site Match.com and “dating site for married people” Ashley Madison over concerns about fake profiles being set up on the site to lure in paying users. Now it appears the FTC is stepping in on such things, and it’s reached a settlement (pdf) with one company, JDI Dating, which runs a bunch of dating sites, for tricking lots of people into buying premium plans based on fake profiles sending messages to “free” users.

According to a complaint filed by the FTC, JDI Dating and William Mark Thomas operate a worldwide dating service via 18 websites, including cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com. The defendants offered a free plan that allowed users to set up a profile with personal information and photos. As soon as a new user set up a free profile, he or she began to receive messages that appeared to be from other members living nearby, expressing romantic interest or a desire to meet. However, users were unable to respond to these messages without upgrading to a paid membership. Membership plans cost from $10 to $30 per month, with subscriptions generally ranging from one to 12 months.

The messages were almost always from fake, computer-generated profiles ? ?Virtual Cupids? ? created by the defendants, with photos and information designed to closely mimic the profiles of real people. A small ?v? encircled by a ?C? on the profile page was the only indication that the profiles were fake. Users were not likely to see ? much less understand ? this icon. The fake profiles and messages caused many users to upgrade to paid subscriptions.

It’s actually somewhat surprising that they even indicated that the profiles were fake with that tiny VC logo. I would have expected that a company doing this sort of thing wouldn’t have even bothered.

Given that this sort of thing seems to happen quite a bit on dating sites, I wonder if lots of other dating sites are now rushing to scrub fake profiles…

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Companies: jdi dating

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Comments on “FTC Fines Online Dating Site For Using 'Fake, Computer-Generated Profiles' To Lure Guys Into Buying Premium Memberships”

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John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“There is still a stigma attached to online dating.”

Not as much as there used to be. I discovered an interesting thing, though. When I tell people that I met my wife through online dating, more often than not they’ll respond with their own online dating experiences. I think the perception of a stigma is largely that — a perception — and that a very large percentage, if not a majority, of people in the dating pool have used online dating at least some.

darren says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

yes i use dating site and well on to the fake profiles the fakes you can run them thought he test and it can be quite fun catching these dishonest sods out and ye sthay dont like it and in alot of cases get very cross that tthay been sussed but what riles me most is the computer generated meassages possing to be real profiles of real people it should be iligal to miislead people and rip them off in such a cheap and digusting way

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I met my wife through match.com and so have some experience with them.

I bet that was awkward.

Husband: “Hi Honey. What’re you doing here? I thought you were going to see an old friend.”
Wife: “… I was. What’re you doing here? I thought you were working on a house project today.”
Husband: “I needed to take a break and I got a message from an old buddy cough to meet here…”

Digitari says:

really surprised?

well I have been online since before microphones were introduced to chat rooms… what fun it was to get on a mic in a room full of folks you cannot see..1998

Then webcams hit yahoo (2000 or so) I was one of 100 cameras available to view in those days, Folks thought that just by owning a camera you got “special” treatment. It was more a nightmare, everyone wanted to see your camera view (back then, everyone had CLOTHES on, some even Dressed for the webcam)

then the begging started, please show some skin (usually the back of the middle finger from any female dumb enough to get infront of a cam) so then when a female DID get on cam and showed skin then recordings started.

The faking started about 20 mins after the fist girl on a non pay site showed skin, Some guys would even dress up RealDolls and use them on cam as real women,(to induce real women to show) sad and funny at the same time.

None of this is new
(I’m a 19 year old buxom girl, I have no cam, mic, keyboard, mouse, monitor,Cpu or harddrive, can I watch you two fuck on cam? I have some Stolen porn pics I’ll show ya..1999 meme)

John85851 (profile) says:

Not surprising

It’s not surprising that sites do this, but what’s surprising is that that FTC finally caught up to them.
This about it: how do these sites get people to pay and join, rather than staying as a free member? The sites have to tempt people with matches.

When I joined eHarmony years ago, they would send me e-mails saying they found a perfect match for me. I would read through the profile and send an e-mail to the lady, but then I’d get either “That member has closed her profile” or no reply. So if that member closed her profile, why did eHarmony send me an e-mail saying it was a match?
Answer: to make sure I was still getting enough matches to keep me as a paid member.

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