One British dating company recently admitted to the Federal Trade Commission setting up fake user profiles to lure users. JDI Dating is the company behind websites flirtcrowd.com, cupidswand.com, and findmelove.com.The fake user profiles featured photos of real people, detailed personality descriptions, interests, and age.
FTC cracks down on dating site
The FTC reports the companies would offer a free plan to entice new users to sign up. After the profile was set up, the company would use fake profiles to message other new members as a way to prompt them to sign up for the paid plan. Paid memberships ranged from $10 to $30 a month.
The messages from the fake users always generated a small v which indicated a virtual profile, but most new users did not understand it. FTC consumer protection director, Jessica Rich, explained, “JDI Dating used fake profiles to make people think they were hearing from real love interests and to trick them into upgrading to paid memberships. Adding insult to injury, users were charged automatically to renew their subscriptions – often without their consent.”
JDI Dating deceived users
The dating websites neglected to inform users they were automatically charged for renewing subscriptions they didn’t consent to. The sites also failed to tell users their subscriptions would continue unless canceled. JDI Dating promised to stop using phony profiles and agreed to pay the FTC $616,165 in user refunds.
This isn’t the first time a dating site landed in hot water over deceitful practices. Earlier this year, free dating site OkCupid got in trouble for admitting it runs experiments on the site’s users. One of the website’s founders admitted to the practice in a blog post. He explained how he and the site’s engineers would use people’s accounts to tweak around the website which would include things like hiding profile text and matching people who don’t really mesh together.