Catch someone's eye on Match.com? That someone was often a scammer, and the company knew it—at least according to an FTC lawsuit filed Wednesday, TechCruch reports. The FTC claims Match.com lured possible subscribers with emails saying another user was interested, after flagging that user as a suspected scammer or bot. New users then connected with the possible fraudster or found their profile "unavailable." And Match.com often failed to tell consumers what had happened, per the FTC. "We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers," says Andrew Smith, who heads the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Seems it was a regular thing. According to the FTC, Match.com admits that, over a two-year stretch, 499,691 consumers subscribed within 24 hours of receiving a marketing email based on a fake user. The suit also alleges Match.com encumbered users with a tricky cancellation process, and banned those who responded by trying to reverse bank charges. But Match.com—which owns roughly 25% of the online dating market through dozens of dating services—disputes the FTC's claims, per the Washington Post. "The FTC has misrepresented internal emails and relied on cherry-picked data to make outrageous claims and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these claims in court," says the Dallas-based company. (Read more online dating stories.)