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Dating site fined for posting fake profiles

The Federal Trade Commission fines JDI Dating for posting fake profiles that encouraged the vulnerable to pay a subscription fee to contact beautiful women who weren't, in fact, real.

wand.jpg
JDI Dating's wand was said to be virtual rather than actual. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's not easy being unattractive, or at least thinking you are.

You sit in your small corner of the bar or the Web and hope that a tiny miracle might occur.

When it does, you tend to be vulnerable to its charms.

This seems to be a reality exploited by some dating sites that entice you to pay money for their services. This week, UK-based JDI Dating was fined by the Federal Trade Commission for emitting fake profiles that had one tiny catch: in order to talk to the gorgeous woman who was supposedly interested in you, you had to pay JDI Dating a little money.

As CNN reports, the FTC decided JDI Dating's actions amounted to subterfuge. For this, the company was ordered to pay $616,165. It's not clear how many people might have been duped, and therefore what amount of money each person's disappointed feelings might have been worth.

But how tempting it must have been to receive a come-on message from a comely stranger who allegedly lived nearby.

JDI Dating describes itself as "one of the leading online-dating companies." However, the fine might suggest that one of its strengths is leading customers on to pay monthly memberships of between $10 and $30. Worse, the accusations were that the company automatically renewed subscriptions, sometimes without the approval of customers.

The company runs 18 sites and, as I write, its site boasts that it has 12 million members across those 18 loving properties. These include the delightful Cupidswand.com, the pulsating FlirtCrowd.com and the alluring IfYouLookLikeQuasimodo.com.

Wait, I made that last one up.

I have contacted JDI Dating not only to ask whether its feelings are hurt by the judgment but also whether it believes that other sites employed and still employ similar tactics to lure the lovelorn. I will update, should I hear.

In our hearts, we all want to up-date. There's that stunning moment when someone who seems out of the league into which we have inserted ourselves shows unaccountable interest.

Temporarily, we tell ourselves that this sort of thing happens in the movies, so why can't it happen to us (just once)?

In this case, as the Daily Mail points out, users could theoretically have noticed that these profiles were computer-generated, as there was a tiny "v" for virtual (rather than virtuous) in the top right-hand corner.

I wonder, though, how many people looked at anything other than the lovely picture of the "person" who contacted them, when such a contact, as it likely did, had made their day.