The Federal Trade Commission is suing Match Group for allegedly using notifications about phony profiles to trick consumers into paying for a subscription to dating site Match.com
The site lets people create profiles for free but they need to pay for a subscription to respond to messages. Match 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.
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Match Group said it blocks 96% of bots and fake accounts within a day. In a statement, it called the FTC's claims "outrageous," and said it plans to "vigorously" defend itself in court.
The Dallas-based company owns Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish and other dating sites.
CORRECTION: (Sept. 25, 2019, 8:59 p.m. ET): This Associated Press story has been corrected to show that Match Group is headquartered in Dallas. An earlier version of this story said the company was based in New York.