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FTC fines online dating service $616,000 for using “virtual cupids”

FTC fines online dating service $616,000 for using “virtual cupids” “You must UPGRADE to send sexxxxysara a private message.” reader comments Share this story Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit More and more people are becoming familiar with the joys — and frustrations — of online dating. A recent Pew study found that 11 percent of the US public has used online dating services, and a full 38 percent of people who say they are “single and looking” have used such sites. There’s enough money to be made as an Internet matchmaker that it’s apparently sparking some companies to push the boundaries of what’s legal. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission disclosed that it reached a settlement with JDI Dating Ltd., a UK company that runs 18 dating sites that it claims have over 12 million members. The sites include. JDI will have to pay $616,165 in redress, and it must stop business practices that were said to violate both the FTC Act and a newer law that regulates recurring billing online. JDI’s dating sites would make fake profiles, which the company called “virtual cupids,” and have them send computer-generated messages to new users who had created profiles but hadn’t yet paid. On JDI’s websites, users received an e-mail notifying them that another user sent them a “wink” within minutes of joining. Then they got additional winks, messages, and photo requests, supposedly from other members in their geographic area. Those messages came from the bogus “virtual cupid” profiles that JDI had on FlirtCrowd and other sites. The only indication that the profile was fake was a tiny logo with the letters V and C. The “virtual cupids” had photographs and personal info that mimicked real profiles and were made to appear geographically close to consumers using the site. “We don’t want consumers paying money to talk to...