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FTC: Match.com lured online daters with fake love interests

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The federal government is suing Match.com, claiming the popular online dating site misled consumers for years and left them vulnerable to scams.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Match used deceptive emails and advertisements to trick hundreds of thousands of consumers into purchasing subscriptions to the site.

The FTC claims Match knew many of the accounts belonged to scammers but did not block the potentially fraudulent accounts from messaging people who had free memberships.

Chris Lefevbre, an attorney who specializes in consumer protection issues, said the lawsuit contains concerning claims.

“If you’re getting multiple invitations from Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, that’s probably a warning sign that they’re a fraudster looking to scam you or dupe you,” Lefevbre cautioned.

The FTC lawsuit also claims Match made it difficult for consumers to cancel their memberships.

Match called the FTC’s allegations “completely meritless.” In a statement, the company said: “Fraud isn’t good for business. That’s why we fight it.”

“We catch and neutralize 85% of potentially improper accounts in the first four hours…and 96% of improper accounts within a day,” the company added.

In 2018, there were more than 21,000 reports of romance scams that cost people $143 million, according to the FTC.

Consumers can protect themselves by doing a reverse-image search on profile pictures to ensure users’ photos are legitimate. Consumers should also avoid sending money to people they have not met in person, the FTC said.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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