Match.com linked daters to fake accounts to encourage subscriptions, US regulators say

Match.com may have linked non-paying daters to fake accounts just for them to register, according to federal regulators. In a lawsuit filed today against Match Group, the Federal Trade Commission claims that the company has linked Match.com daters to fake accounts in an effort to get them registered. The case refers to the dark line between really useful reports and reports that demand people's curiosity to make money with a service.

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Non-paying Match.com users cannot view or respond to messages they receive through the service, but when they receive one, Match.com sends them an email informing them that they are being encouraged to subscribe to see the message.

The FTC claims that Match.com has notified daters of messages in hundreds of thousands of cases, even after the company determined that the account that sent the message was fraudulent. After these people subscribed, they opened the message to see that the user had already been banned or, days later, would be banned for fraud on the platform, the lawsuit says. When these users then filed a complaint with Match.com or tried to get their money back, Match.com denied an abuse.

The FTC claims that this behavior led to 499,691 new subscriptions, all traced to fraudulent communication, between June 2016 and May 2018. The lawsuit also claims that these automatically generated email notifications were often withheld from paying subscribers until Match.com Completed a fraud investigation. However, it would still have sent the advertising email automatically to non-paying users.

Until mid-2019, Match.com offered a free six-month subscription to anyone who did not & # 39; someone special & # 39; met. The program came with a long list of rules, including that users had to submit their photo and have it approved by Match.com within seven days of purchasing their subscription. The FTC claims that between 2013 and 2016, people bought 2.5 million subscriptions, but only 32,438 received the following six months for free. Allegedly, after the first six-month package, Match.com has billed 1 million people to renew their subscription.

The FTC also claims that Match.com has made canceling subscriptions incredibly difficult – according to the complaint, six clicks are needed to cancel. Match.com is said to have locked people out of their accounts after disputing the costs, even if they had lost their dispute and had time left in their subscription. The FTC seeks financial relief for consumers who have lost money through the company's practices.

Match Group did not immediately respond to comment on the matter when reached through The edge. Match.com CEO Hesam Hosseini, however, has already spoken out internally against the allegations and sent an email earlier today to executives rejecting the claims of the FTC.

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"The FTC is likely to make shameful allegations that ignore all of Match's efforts to prioritize the customer experience, including our efforts to combat fraud," Hosseini wrote.

In the email, Hosseini said the company detects and neutralizes 85 percent of fraudulent accounts within the first four hours of their existence and 95 percent within a day. He also argued that the accounts that the FTC defines as fraudulent are not related to scams, but rather bots, spam and people trying to sell a service on Match.com.

"I believe the FTC has fundamentally misunderstood our work here and we intend to fight all allegations."

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