More and more people are becoming familiar with the joys—and frustrations—of online dating. A recent Pew study found that 10 percent of the US public is using online dating services, and a full 38 percent of those people say they are “single and looking.”
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 CupidsWand.com, FlirtCrowd.com, and FindMeLove.com. 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.
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