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FTC sues owner of Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid for tricking customers into paying with fake profiles

The Federal Trade Commission is suing the company that owns dating websites Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish and others for allegedly using notifications about phoney profiles to trick consumers into paying for a subscription.
Nearly 500,000 people between June 2016 and May 2018 subscribed to Match.com after receiving communications from fake profiles, the FTC said. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The Federal Trade Commission is suing the company that owns dating websites Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish and others for allegedly using notifications about phoney profiles to trick consumers into paying for a subscription.

Match.com lets people create profiles for free but they need to pay for a subscription to respond to messages. Match Group, the company that owns all the various dating services listed above, sent emails to non-subscribers telling them they had received a response on the site.

But the FTC said Wednesday that Match sent millions of emails about notices that came from accounts already flagged as likely fake.

Nearly 500,000 people between June 2016 and May 2018 subscribed to Match.com after receiving communications from fake profiles, the FTC said.

Match did, however, prevent subscribers from getting email from suspected fake accounts, the FTC says.

Prices for subscriptions vary, from $20-plus to $30-plus a month depending on the length of time users subscribe for. There are also a variety of add-ons that can be bought.

The FTC also alleged that Match didn't adequately disclose the requirements that consumers needed to get Match's offer of free six-month subscription if they did not "meet someone special." And that it didn't provide a simple enough system for cancelling subscriptions.

Match Group said it blocks 96 per cent of bots and fake accounts within a day. In a statement it called that the FTC's claims "outrageous," and said it plans to "vigorously" defend itself in court.

The New York company owns Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, and other dating sites.