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...

Filed Under: dating site, fake profiles, fines, ftc
Companies: jdi dating


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  1. identicon
    Digitari, 30 Oct 2014 @ 10:47am

    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)

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