Dat­ing site be­ing sued in U.S. for fraud

Match may burn you: Watch­dog

Edmonton Sun - - LIFE -

Got a hot lead from your dat­ing app? Tempted to up­grade to a paid ac­count so you can see who’s got the likes for you?

Not so fast.

If you’re look­ing for love or a hookup on an app like Tin­der, you may want to con­sider why its par­ent com­pany is be­ing sued by the U.S. Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion for fraud.

Match Group, the owner of match.com, Tin­der, Okcu­pid, Plenty of Fish and a few oth­ers, has dat­ing sites in 42 lan­guages across 190 coun­tries. That’s pretty much ev­ery­where — the United Na­tions only has 193 coun­tries.

There are usu­ally free reg­is­tra­tions to its prod­ucts, but of­ten paid sub­scrip­tions are re­quired to see mes­sages from po­ten­tial suit­ors. The FTC con­tends that Match sent fake mes­sages to trick peo­ple into buy­ing sub­scrip­tions.

Over two years from mid2016 to May 2018, the FTC says al­most half a mil­lion peo­ple were suck­ered into sub­scrip­tions within 24 hours of re­ceiv­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions of al­leged love in­ter­est.

“Con­sumers rea­son­ably be­lieve, based upon these ad­ver­tise­ments, that other match.com users are in­ter­ested in es­tab­lish­ing a pos­si­ble dat­ing re­la­tion­ship with them,” the FTC com­plaint says. “Hun­dreds of thou­sands of con­sumers sub­scribed to match.com shortly af­ter re­ceiv­ing a fraud­u­lent com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

Match in­tends to fight the case vig­or­ously, claim­ing that the FTC “mis­rep­re­sented in­ter­nal emails” and “cherry-picked data” to make its case.

“Fraud is never good for business, which is why we spend so much time, money and emo­tional cap­i­tal to fight it,” Match says on its web­site. “The vast ma­jor­ity of the users that the FTC char­ac­ter­izes as fraud­u­lent are not ro­mance scams or sim­i­lar types of fraud­sters, but spam, bots and other users at­tempt­ing to use the ser­vice for their own com­mer­cial pur­poses.”

There is no equiv­a­lent of the FTC in Canada, where Tin­der is the No. 1 dat­ing site, ac­cord­ing to the web­site Business of Apps.

But there are sev­eral Cana­dian con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws and agen­cies such as the Cana­dian Anti-fraud Centre and the fed­eral Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau, which deals with en­force­ment.

The bureau acts con­fi­den­tially so it couldn’t con­firm whether it’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing dat­ing sites, a spokesman told the Sun. But it did pub­lish a con­sumer alert in 2017 about them.

The Bea­tles sang “money can’t buy me love,” but long­ing for love can sure beget money: Match re­ported 2018 rev­enue of $1.73 bil­lion US and says Tin­der is the No. 2 gross­ing app in the world.

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