Online dating service admits to fake profiles

A British-based online dating service admitted to US regulators Wednesday that it created fake, computer-generated profiles to lure users into upgraded memberships.

The Federal Trade Commission, in its first law enforcement action against a service, said it reached a settlement with JDI Dating Ltd., which operates the websites cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com.

The company agreed to pay $616,165 in refunds and to stop the practice of using phony user .

According to the FTC, the websites offered a free plan that allowed users to set up a profile with and photos.

But when users set up a free profile, they began to receive messages that appeared to be from other members living nearby, expressing romantic interest. In order to connect with these fictitious members, the users had to upgrade to a paid membership at a price of $10 to $30 per month.

FTC officials said the messages were almost always from fake, computer-generated profiles designed to closely mimic the profiles of real people. The fake profiles were indicated with a small "v" that indicates these were virtual profiles, but most users did not notice or understand this, according to the agency.

"JDI Dating used profiles to make people think they were hearing from real love interests and to trick them into upgrading to paid memberships," said Jessica Rich, director of FTC consumer protection.

"Adding insult to injury, were charged automatically to renew their subscriptions—often without their consent."

The websites failed to tell subscribers that their subscriptions would be renewed automatically and that they would continue to be charged until they canceled.

In settling the charges, the company agreed to cease further misrepresentations and to disclose billing options before they are charged.


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© 2014 AFP

Citation: Online dating service admits to fake profiles (2014, October 29) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-10-online-dating-fake-profiles.html
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Oct 29, 2014
In 2013, the FTC gave the keynote address to the online dating industry's largest trade show & expo, known as iDate. They warned the industry to stop doing this (search on Youtube for 'FTC' and 'iDate' - So the industry can't say they didn't know about it. There's no question the FTC was there either.

Oct 30, 2014
This was fraud, fraud on vulnerable people seeking the most basic need of humans--a person to with which to share love. The punishment is inappropriately light--JDI Dating should be out of business so honest competitors can thrive by providing a real not fake service. Federal Trade Commission should have sent a clear "no ifs" signal that no company cannot game, push envelop or otherwise see what they can get away by devious practices--predators upon those seeking love should be put in the business extinct club.

Oct 30, 2014
I suspect as many as half the profiles on some dating sites are fakes.
I reported two profiles on one particular site to the administrators, and later to the FBI.

The profiles were never taken down by the administrators, even after I proved beyond all doubt that they were con artists. This proved that the site was consenting to con artists operating on their site, even though their terms of use said otherwise. Basically I proved that the site itself is a cover for a con. It still hasn't been taken down by the FBI or anyone else, but I guess they are still investigating them.

No, I did not fall for the con, obviously.

Oct 30, 2014
Just look at Tinder. Or Zoosk. Heaps of fake profiles on there!


Yes, but there is a difference between a user creating a fake profile to con people, vs the site itself creating a fake profile based on a free member's personality data to "bait" that person into buying a paid membership.

I know of two sites that I'm not naming which did that to me, and neither of them are covered by this case.

They faked profiles on the site in my area, and when I paid for the membership the profiles are not real people, but they message you while you have a free membership. In some cases, there is an operator controlling the profile, but they are not the person in the photo.

The entire website is a con.

That's the difference.

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