FTC: Match.com Used Fake Accounts to Lure 500,000 Subscribers

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 The FTC claims that dating site Match.com used fake accounts to lure almost 500,000 people to become paying subscribers on the popular dating website. The subscribers joined the company’s paid premium service within 24 hours of receiving a message from accounts the FTC claims Match had already identified as “fraudulent.”

According to a report by The Verge, Match.com has been accused by the FTC of using fake accounts in order to lure new subscribers. Although Match.com may not be creating fake accounts, the company has been accused of exploiting fraudsters on the platform as a means of encouraging other members to sign up for a premium subscription.

According to the lawsuit against Match Group, the dating platform encourages users to sign up for a paid subscription by limiting their ability to read messages from other members.

The lawsuit claims that Match.com will let non-premium users know that they have an incoming message from an account and then encourage them to subscribe in order to see the message, knowing that many messages are from scammers or other fake accounts.

Consumers are often unaware that, in many instances, communications received through Match.com are not from users interested in establishing dating relationships, but are instead from persons seeking to perpetrate scams. For example, in some months between 2013 and 2016, more than half of instant message initiations and favorites that consumers received originated from accounts that Defendant identified as “fraudulent,” meaning that Defendant determined the Match.com user was likely to be perpetrating some form of scam.

The legal complaint goes on to explain that many users only find out that messages sent to them are fraudulent after paying for a premium account. Some users who entered signed up for a premium account to read a message from another user immediately find out that the person that sent them a message is “unavailable.”

When consumers subscribe to view these communications, they either gain access to the fraudulent communication or receive a notification stating that the profile that sent the communication is “unavailable.” This outcome depends upon whether consumers subscribe to Match.com before or after Defendant completes its fraud review process: if the consumer subscribes before the review is completed, the consumer receives the communication that was sent; if Defendant has already completed its review process and deleted the account as fraudulent before the consumer subscribes, the consumer will receive a notification that the profile is “unavailable.”

The complaint claims that, between June 2016 and May 2018, 499,691 subscriptions were created within 24 hours after receiving a message from a fraudulent account.

Match.com CEO Hesam Hosseini says that the allegations by the FTC are “outrageous.” “The FTC will likely make outrageous allegations that ignore all of Match’s efforts to prioritize the customer experience, including our efforts to combat fraud,” Hosseini wrote in a short comment.

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