FTC Is Suing Match.com for Using Fake Accounts to Trick Users Into Paying for Subscriptions
The FTC has issued a warning to be on high alert if you receive an email from Match.com saying that your profile “caught” someone’s eye.
According to the FTC, there are millions — millions! — of profiles that Match has flagged as likely to be fraudulent, yet they were still allowed to generate email communication with non-paying accounts. Allegedly, the dating site is pretending to not notice that there are romance scammers in its midst because these scammers actually help the site drum up new paying subscribers.
“Match allegedly used the substantial number of scammers on its site — a figure estimated to be as high as 25-30 percent of accounts — as a marketing opportunity to sell more subscriptions,” the FTC reported in a blog post on Wednesday.
Anyone can create a free account on Match.com, but in order to respond to messages from potential love interests, you must first upgrade to a paid subscription. Since so many of these potential love interests are also known to be potential frauds, the FTC is now suing Match.com to get them to stop the alleged activity and cough up the civil penalties.
As our friends at PCMag point out, romance scammers and catfish are nothing new in this digital age of dating. But it’s surprising that Match would allow its dating pool to be soured by their presence since the site normally prides itself for attracting high-quality users interested in finding serious relationships.
The good news is that Match.com has been preventing existing subscribers from receiving email communications with these fraudulent accounts. So that’s nice. But what about the poor, lovelorned souls who shelled out their hard-earned cash for a paid account? All because Match told them that their profile caught 21-year-old Instagram model Susie’s eye when “Susie” was actually some middle-aged scammer dude running schemes behind his computer.
Match.com — owned by Match Group, also the parent company of Tinder, OkCupid and PlentyOfFish — had this to say in response:
“For nearly 25 years Match.com has been focused on helping people find love and fighting the criminals that try to take advantage of users… 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.”
Well, guess we might have to go back to meeting potential dates IRL until this all gets sorted out.