A model is suing Match.com for $1.5bn for the unauthorised use of her photos in over 200 fake profiles on Match and other IAC dating sites.
Yuliana Avalos, a Florida model who has never signed up to any IAC-owned dating sites, claims that her photographs have been used “hundreds if not thousands of times” on the sites.
It is part of what the suit describes as “one of the biggest conspiracies ever executed on the internet.”
The allegations are also based on the complaints of many other victims who claim their photographs have been used.
In a statement, Avalos said: “Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t tell me that they saw my pictures posted on Match.com or another website.”
The suit claims that Match.com and other sites run by co-defendant IAC knowingly allow these fake profiles to be used, as it drives profit.
It says Match “knowingly and intentionally conspire with criminals” from Nigeria, Ghana and Russia who add fake profiles in order to coax money out of members of the site.
Avalos’s lawyer, Evan Spencer, says that despite the fact that anti-scammer technology is available, Match fail to use such things as face-recognition software – which would have discovered that her pictures were being used hundreds of times.
They also claim that Match could stop fraud on their site if they implemented software that blocked international ISP addresses from posting domestic profiles in the US.
The class-action Manhattan Federal Court suit says this fraud has serious consequences:
“The tragedy of this case is two-fold as the American victims of internet fraud on defendants’ sites, (estimated to be at least thousands), mostly widows, widowers, and divorcees age 50 and over, have been defrauded out of as much as hundreds of millions of dollars over the past six-plus years through fraudulent dating profiles on the defendants’ sites, and those of its competitors.
“In addition to the financial and emotional toll, these scams destroy relationships, families, and result in suicides, abductions and murder of victims in foreign countries.”
The New York Daily News has reported that Avalos says her photos were used in a scammer profile that drove a man to suicide.
Al Circelli thought he was speaking to Avalos, but was actually speaking to a scammer, who convinced him to send over $50,000 to bank accounts in Ghana.
Circello killed himself after ‘Avalos’ did not arrive on a scheduled visit to the US.
Charging the company with negligence and unjust enrichment, they are seeking $500m in damages for the “thousands” of other victims, and $1bn in punitive damages.
A spokesman for Match has responded, saying:
“The real scam here is this meritless lawsuit, which is filled with outlandish conspiracy theories and clumsy fabrications in lieu of factual or legal basis.
“We’re confident that our legal system is as adept as we are at detecting scammers and will dismiss this case in short order.”
To read the suit, go here.