The two founders of mobile dating giant LOVOO have been arrested after armed police stormed their offices across Germany.
Using a battering ram to enter the company’s Dresden headquarters, the German police also raided 16 other LOVOO properties, seizing computers and mobile phones in connection with a suspected deception of its customers.
Thirteen of these raids were in Dresden, with another three in Berlin and Nuremberg, prosecutors in Saxony confirmed today.
And both brothers BjÃ¶rn and Benjamin Bak, who founded the company together in 2011, were taken into custody, according to German tabloid Bild.
Another twelve people, between the age of 25 and 38, have also apparently been accused of commercial deception.
A lawyer for LOVOO told the national newspaper: “There is an ongoing investigation. We are not commenting on it. Naturally we don’t comment on ongoing investigations.”
And the LOVOO homepage is now inactive, the site only showing an error code.
The prosecutors said the arrests were in connection with allegations that the company used fake profiles to lure customers into paying for the dating site’s premium service.
This was according to a set of alleged emails sent between LOVOO’s leadership that were leaked to German computer magazine c’t.
The site claimed the emails showed that LOVOO used a large number of fake profiles that are designed to initiate contact with other users and attract them into signing up to its paid services.
The German news site said these profiles have a few attractive photos, with little other information, and when real users contact them, they become inactive.
And the report, which was published last year, said LOVOO made over €1m in profits with the ploy.
However at the time there was some debate about the legitimacy of the leaked documents, with LOVOO saying the documents were fake.
At the time, LOVOO released a statement to GDI saying: “The criticism presented in today’s edition of the German trade press magazine “c’t“ of the dating app LOVOO are based on highly doubtful documents and files, which the magazine had received by an anonymous source and whose authenticity the authors of the article themselves have questioned in their own report.
“LOVOO denies the criticism brought forward in the article. The article is quoting from presumably internal emails — if these are authentic at all — about LOVOO’S own anti-spam initiatives, which the writers completely misunderstood and negligently placed into wrong contexts.”
LOVOO, which says it has over 36m users in 17 countries, has not released a statement about today’s raid, but we will update the story when more information comes to light.