An online dating company has agreed to pay more than $600,000 to settle allegations that it tricked consumers with fake dating profiles. The company operates dating websites such as cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com, and findmelove.com. The Federal Trade Commission argues that the deceptive practice violates federal law.
Users can sign up for the company's dating sites for free. Once they did so, the FTC says, they would often be greeted by messages from what appeared to be other users of the site. These profiles often included pictures, biographical details, and a location near the target user:
That little icon in the upper-right stands for "virtual cupid," and it's the only sign that the profile is not, in fact, a real person. The FTC says unsuspecting men signed up for profiles that cost $10 to $20 per month in hopes of meeting these imaginary women.
In addition to paying a $616,165 settlement, which the FTC will try to use to compensate victims, the company has also promised to clearly disclose that not all profiles on the site represent real users.