The Federal Trade Commission is taking legal action against Match Group Inc. (NASDAQ:MTCH) for allegedly using fake profiles to entice consumers into paying a subscription to Match.com. Match Group is an online dating service that owns Match.com, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Tinder among other sites.
Match tricked users into a subscription
Match.com lets users create profiles for free, but they will have to pay a subscription to reply to messages. The site sent allegedly sent emails to non-subscribers informing them that they had received a response. The FTC indicates that Match sent the emails about notices from several flagged accounts created by fraudsters. Match had sent the emails to entice new users to pay a subscription for the service since 2013 to mid-last year.
The FTC indicates that Match exposed consumers unfairly to potential risks and also engaged in other unfair and deceptive practices. The agency says that Match provided deceitful promises to consumers and failed to offer services. Consumers unsuccessfully challenged the charges, and Match made it hard for consumers to stop the subscriptions.
Andrew Smith, the FTC Director of Bureau of Consumer Protection, indicated that the agency believes that the site deceived people into subscribing through messages from fraudsters. He added that the company knew the messages were from scammers. Smith said that dating sites should not use romance scammers to grow their bottom line.
Over 500,000 deceived since 2016
The FTC claims that over 500,000 people between the beginning of 2016 and mid-2018 had subscribed after receiving communication from flagged profiles. The FTC says that Match didn’t protect subscribers from receiving messages from fake accounts. The lawsuit that FTC filed indicate that instead of Match warning users that messages they were receiving were part of a romance scam, they took advantage of the opportunity.
They got more people to sign up and subscribe by sending a follow-up ad that sometimes had a coupon. The petition states that Match sent deceiving ads that implied possible communication from accounts that the defendant identified as fraudsters. These messages mislead users into believing that someone was interested in having a relationship with them.