The FTC sued online dating behemoth The Match Group for allegedly ignoring fraudulent bots that seduced users into paid subscriptions. The complaint also accuses the company of fraud exposure and violations of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.
What is Match Group?
Match Group is the largest online dating conglomerate in the world. The company owns several platforms, including Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyofFish, and Hinge.
According to reports, about 25 to 30 percent of Match Group users are scammers who engage in everything from old-fashioned romance cons to digital identity theft. Another study concluded that swindlers initiated over half of Match.com’s conversations between 2013 and 2016.
What is the FTC?
The Federal Trade Commission is the nation’s consumer watchdog responsible for monitoring online marketing efforts. FTC commissioners both develop promotional guidelines and sue companies that break them.
Why is the FTC suing Match.com?
The Federal Trade Commission recently sued Match.com for supposedly profiting off bot scams and known fraudsters. Ultimately, the commission believes the company incorporated deception into its business plan.
The suit claims that the system would send “You caught [his / her] eye” and “[S/he] just emailed you” teasers to users that it knew originated from bot or scam accounts. Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained:
“We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers. Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line.”
FTC agents claim that over two years, nearly 500,000 users upgraded their memberships within 24 hours of getting a teaser, only to discover a fraudulent message or an “unavailable” error because Match.com had already deleted it.
An alleged misleading six-month free trial is another component of the FTC’s case against Match.com. According to promotional material, users wouldn’t pay if they hadn’t met someone within six months of joining. However, the company failed to correctly explain how the program worked, which involved a complicated redemption scheme.
The site’s complicated cancellation process, which the FTC argues violates the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, also posed a problem.
Match — a company that’s fine snuggling up to litigation — vehemently disagrees with the FTC’s framing. The company asserts that it kills 85% of fraud accounts within four hours and 96% within 24. In a statement, the Match.com declared:
“For nearly 25 years, Match has been focused on helping people find love and fighting the criminals that try to take advantage of users. We’ve developed industry-leading tools and A.I. that block 96% of bots and fake accounts from our site within a day and are relentless in our pursuit to rid our site of these malicious accounts,” Match stated, in response to the news. “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.”
Comply to Avoid FTC Attention
The fight between Match.com and the Federal Trade Commission will be significant. A win for the company could mean the dawn of a new online marketing era. A loss would be a compliance clarion call to companies.
If you want to avoid a tussle with the FTC, adhere to the agency’s established rules.
Connect with an FTC Defense Lawyer
The Gordon Law Group is a leading FTC defense lawyer. We’ve beaten the FTC in court and regularly help businesses navigate online compliance matters.
If the FTC or a state equivalent sent you a letter, we can help. If you need an online marketing lawyer to review your promotional materials before launch, we do that too.
Get in touch today. Our team has the answers, experience, and relationships you need.