The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is suing Match.com for fraudulent business practices.
It claims the dating company created fake love interests to “trick hundreds of thousands of consumers into purchasing paid subscriptions.”
It did so, allegedly, by failing to screen out scam accounts in the same way for paid vs free members.
The platform would send messages to unsubscribed consumers alerting them when someone was interested in their profile, even if it knew this interested party was likely to be a scammer. Concurrently, Match would prevent those same scam accounts from contacting any paid members.
To view the identity of the person interested in their profile, unsubscribed consumers would have to upgrade to a paid membership. The presence of romance scammers would, therefore, help Match to convert its unsubscribed users, the FTC claims.
“We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line.”
The Commission’s official press release states: “Match’s own analysis found that consumers purchased 499,691 subscriptions within 24 hours of receiving an advertisement touting a fraudulent communication.”
The FTC also claims Match has acted deceptively in other ways, such as making it difficult for consumers to cancel subscriptions.
Read more here.