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FTC sues over false advertising

Those matches it promised you may well have been scammers, the agency alleges. logo seen displayed on smart phone. is

The logo seen displayed on a smartphone. The FTC sued the company Wednesday for false advertising.

SOPA Images / Getty Images told potential subscribers that other users on the dating service were interested in connecting with them, but according to the US Fair Trade Commission, there was a problem. Those matches were often scammers gaming the site to make money off legitimate users, the agency alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

"Hundreds of thousands of consumers subscribed to shortly after receiving communications from fake profiles," the FTC said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. 

The result was false advertising, according to the FTC's complaint. The agency is also alleging the dating service didn't provide users with enough information on how to redeem its offer of a free subscription for six months, or how to stop recurring charges. The lawsuit highlights the risk of scammers on dating sites, who often try to get legitimate users to send them money. Scammers "catfish" other users by posing under an assumed identity and slowly building up trust. Not all of them do it for the money, but people in the US reported losses to "romance scammers" totaling about $143 million in 2018, the agency says. called the allegations "meritless" and said the complaint contains misleading characterizations of how the company deals with scam accounts on its system.

"Fraud isn't good for business," the company said in a statement. "That's why we fight it. We catch and neutralize 85% of potentially improper accounts in the first four hours, typically before they are even active on the site, and 96% of improper accounts within a day."

In a note to users, the company also said it works with state and federal prosecutors to identify bad actors.

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