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Thoughts on Match.com Fake Profile Lawsuit

By now most of you have heard about Match.com being sued for not removing inactive members in a timely manner (among other things like displaying fake profiles).

Looks like someone interviewed a bunch of ex-Match employees and contractors and figured out they had a case against Match. Lawyers performed “exhaustive analysis of thousands of fake, inactive and fraudulent profiles.”

Newsflash to lawyers: Of course there are thousands of fake and inactive profiles on Match. And Chemistry and eHarmony and Plentyofish and every other website out there. Just like there are thousands of scammer auctions on eBay, every single day.

Of all the dating sites out there, Match probably does the best job at removing fake profiles. Why? Match has built up a top-notch customer service team and the technology and infrastructure to support anti-fraud efforts. I would estimate that they have more anti-fraud stuff in place than almost any other dating site.

Ignorant/bitter singles and lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes, thats the extent of this lawsuit. Unless of course we’re missing something, one never knows.

Fake profiles are quite a different story than inactive members. I’ve written about dating sites leaving inactive profiles up too long for years. Lots of dating sites hide profiles after 6 months or so, depends on the site. Others leave them up forever.

A while back a top-10 dating site owner told me that their site’s code was 80% anti-fraud and the rest was the dating code. Thats a lot of security measures in place. And they are still not very effective.

Match is being singled out here because they are the Market leader and named in the lawsuit. this lawsuit could be brought against eHarmony, OKCupid, Plentyoffish, HowAboutWe or any of the other sites in the news lately. Lawyers won’t sue a free dating site, at least not the ones I’ve talked to. Pockets aren’t deep enough to justify the amount of work required to win the big money.

And what about Fling.com or AdultFriendFinder? Those are the fertile training grounds for spammers and scammers and chock-full of fake and inactive profiles.

People are generally ignorant about how scammers work on the Internet, and that fuels these kinds of allegations.  If a scammer/spammer is flooding Match with 10,000 fake profiles a day, those profiles are going to be live on the site for a certain period of time before members flag them. I don’t care how much technology or best practices are in place. There is some lag time before profiles are removed and it varies widely between sites.

Match certainly has upstream technology that looks at IP addresses, blacklists and other criteria for identifying potentially harmful accounts. To learn more about this, check out companies like iovation (disclaimer: I’m an official partner).

A dating site will use software that identifies reoccurring patterns like a specific IP address creating 1,000 profiles, so they block that IP address. Or they will see 25,000 profiles created with the exact same phrase in the profiles and block or delete them all.

But catching all fake profiles before they are released onto the site? Never gonna happen. This is similar to why your anti-virus software will never catch every instance of a bot net, trojan or virus. Scammers adjust their “attack vectors” to continuously outwit anti-fraud systems and the anti-virus vendors send out new updates continuously. why not sue them as well?

Years ago there was the Twizzler incident, where people found that thousands of Match profiles all contained a standard phrase about how much the person loved the candy Twizzlers. Obviously the works of spammers, the profiles were removed.

This goes on all day every day. Machines catch the majority of the scammers and Match members flag the rest. Crowdsourcing and technology is the only way to really get a site as spam-free as possible.

Problem is, some sites see the total number of profiles as paramount and are not willing to prune their membership database accordingly. Thats bad for business and the industry as a whole. The online dating industry is not exactly gung-ho about the phrase “rising tides raise all ships.” (Apologies to JFK for the paraphrasing).

Its easy for people to join lawsuits like this when the performance of the site is so closely tied to their personal well being. You are kind of weird, don’t communicate clearly, have a pervy vibe, a crap inauthentic profile and photos that look nothing like you and you only message 24 year old women. 50 of them a day, with the same weak come-on. You suck at online dating and now you blame the dating site. Shocker.

You are 45, divorced twice, have four kids and live in a trailer park. Guess what, spammers love you because you are vulnerable. They know they aren’t going to get anywhere with the hot Marketing VP at Fidelity making $150,000 that lives around the corner from me. She is not vulnerable. She is smart, she knows that a certain amount of scammers/spammers exist in every corner of the Internet. But like spam, its a numbers game, so they flood sites as best they can and the weakest of the herd fall for the scam.

Can Match do a lot better keeping their database clean of spammers and scammers?Absolutely, along with the rest of the dating industry and eBay and Craigslist and 100 other websites.

Here’s what Match need to do. It needs to stop this nonsense about having 20 million profiles. That is 100% bullsh*t, but the marketing machine has been spouting that number for years and it certainly can’t backpedal on the statistic now.

Its curious that this number hasn’t changed, especially with all of their international growth and acquisitions.

In recent years, Match acquired People Media and SinglesNet and didn’t attribute any of their members to this 20 millon profiles number. Now they are running dating on Yahoo and that didn’t even budge the total profiles number. Crazy.

Or, perhaps their churn rate is so absolutely unique that they always have 20 million profiles. Doubtful.

There is a whole discussion around defining active members vs. total # of members in the Match database. That is a much more interesting conversation to me than % of fake profiles on a site. Use the search box, we’ve talked about there here many times in the past.

ClassActionLawsuitsInTheNews has more information. Make sure to read the comments, especially the one by”Irked in Illinois”.

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Comments

  1. Dave,

    I agree with you, as I often do. I have to re-read the case, not that I’m a lawyer or anything close to that. But I think the industry is generally misunderstood from the outside looking in. As I see it there are multiple levels of issues, and I have no clue as to which are illegal, and which just adversely cause user pain.
    1) Fraud – straight out scammers trying to prey on the weak. I applaud many of the large dating sites for truly doing everything they can to remove these users from the site.
    2) Passively Inactive accounts — These are profiles where the users haven’t logged in recently or even not so recently (i.e. 3-6 months without a log in). Do these accounts still get added into the “total user pool?” Especially with Freemium sites, if these inactive accounts are still paying monthly fees because they forgot to cancel their accounts should they be counted, vs. a free account that just couldn’t be bothered to hide their profiles?
    3) Actively Inactive accounts – I met someone (yay) but I paid for a 6 month membership – I set my profile so that no one can see me, I don’t show up in searches, or I actually (temporarily) mark my account as inactive. Do I count in their membership numbers or not?
    4) Active UNPAID members on paid sites. I believe Match and JDate still have over a 75% unpaid to 25% paid member base. So, how many members do they really have? 75% of their members can’t respond to your email because they don’t even know that YOU sent it. I believe this is one of the reasons that guy from Brooklyn sued Match last time. A user views a profile, the profile is well written, and seems like a cool person, and they logged in TODAY. How would I know from looking at it that this isn’t a paid member. I think the frustration of sending emails into a black hole when online dating is tough enough is what drives users over the edge…. But the question — is this non-disclosure legal or not?

    I’d be VERY curious to see where Match, JDate and eHarmony stand. After all, it might be “Ok to look,” but looking doesn’t get you a date. And “Free to join” is about as helpful as a woman in a bar willing to accept drinks from guys that she has not even a 0.5% chance of going out with.

  2. Dave,

    Good on you for raising this issue and I’d support you fully – as an industry we need to act and get consensus sooner rather than later. Someone should also differentiate between inactive profiles and fake profiles (ghosts, animators, call them what you will) which some major sites are still using.

    The test – register as a guy without a profile or photo and if you get a flood of messages addressed to you personally from girls saying they’d like to chat, then those are most likely “animators”.

    One thing to note though – sites can decrease scammers dramatically through manual profile moderation. All the technology in the world can’t match a trained person checking every single profile, photo, message, diary, video and any other user-contributed item. That’s what we decided to do just over a year ago and whilst it’s not the cheapest option, it has proven to be far and away the most effective.

    Ross

  3. Ross (Williams),

    I’m not a database expert, I’ll admit that. But having spent way too many years on both Match and JDate, I will say that their manual processes were never great. I remember seeing a username of “CutegirlATGmail” that managed to get through the screeners. If they’re properly trained, yes, it should get rid of a lot of the problems.

    What I’d recommend though is a technology aided screening service, wherein the database runs searches to look for anomalies, etc., and warns the screeners of these potential issues.

    The best and cheapest method though: Go the Craigslist route. Members have the most to gain (or lose) from high quality (or low quality) profiles. Let users flag problem profiles and let the screeners check those out.

    Issues with human moderation include lag time. For example (I have no knowledge of whether this is still the case) but in 2006 for example, if you changed a section of your profile, JDate had 72 to approve the change, until which profile viewers just saw something telling people that the paragraph in question was under review. Assuming you made the change on 1/1, it got approved on 1/4 and you realized you made a typo. By the time it gets re-approved, it could be 1/7. A technology that would basically show the approved version side by side with the new version would dramatically reduce the review time. Finally, offering the same 72 hour turn around to both paid and unpaid members is insane. Give the paid members some benefit for actually paying by approving it in 24 hours.

    Thoughts?

  4. This is a great article! I’ve spent a lot of time in the Asian dating niche and the number of fake profiles or scammers is just immense. Sites like Chinese Love Links do their best to remove scammers, but they’re always fighting a losing battle on sites where members can sign up for free.

    You’d think men would know of the risks of Asian dating site scammers, but I continue to hear of men losing their entire life savings to simple scams. BTW, women also lose their life savings, so they’re not immune to this either.

  5. The answer is simple: ignore all-free sites entirely, and only count paying members of paid sites. Using Ross Felix’s example above, that’d pretty much get us the following:

    1) Fraudulent users – bye. They aren’t going to be able to afford memberships.

    2) Passively Inactive accounts – they are paying, they are members.

    3) Actively Inactive accounts – perhaps a fudge here, but let’s say “if they have a positive account balance, they are members”… It would be nice if sites split these off from an “active members” count, but the percentage is so small it doesn’t really matter.

    4) Active unpaids – oops, they aren’t counted anymore. Too bad. ;)

    True, this would leave Match.com with an average 100 members per city in the US (assuming totally even distribution), but I bet the average number of dates for those people per month would go WAY up.

  6. Better yet, active is person who has sent/read an email in the last month or some similar engagement metric. that way don’t have to discern between free and paid.

    Far more than 100 I’ll assume you were being funny.

  7. Dave:
    Except for the fact that fraudulent accounts do send emails… if only to try to scam other users.

    On OK Cupid, for example, there would be a variety of ways to measure engagement… probably a combination of answered questions and/or sent/read emails etc. Then again, you could have a shy woman on the site who logs in every day, searches the site, but doesn’t believe that women should initiate contact yet no men are emailing her.

    There’s truthfully no “ideal” math only solution for who is or isn’t an engaged member… the only “truth” is that the numbers provided by most sites with a membership over 0 members have a large degree of inaccuracy.

    It goes back to the old phrase: Figures can lie, and liars can figure.

  8. Not intentionally funny, just running some numbers from the defunct OKCupid analysis of paid sites, and actually got the initial numbers wrong. I was plugging in 7% active users based on paid subscribers, when the real figure is closer to 4%…

    so, let’s redo the numbers:

    20,000,000 (alleged Match.com users)
    times
    0.04 (percentage of paid subscribers who can actually send/receive messages)
    divided by
    19,000 (rough number of active municipalities in the USA, from NYC to Lost Springs, Wyoming)
    =
    42. Which is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

    Whether it’s 42 or 100 though, I’m obviously not accounting for metro areas/driving distance/etc, just splitting everything equally. Still, I lived in Boston for 5 years, and using this metric, Metrowest Boston would be 1344 (42*32) paid subscribers – doesn’t sound that far off.

    And, in the case of Lost Springs, revealing that the sole resident in town is paying for 42 accounts at once. I’d say he or she, at least, is almost CERTAINLY a scammer. (okay, that WAS a joke).

    With respect to sent/read email as user activity, this only addresses the zombie profile phenomenon, which honestly is the less annoying factor for dating site users.

    On most paid sites, scamming is pretty minimal – with the exception of profiles that try to lure you off site with an obfuscated email or IM address, it’s really hard for scammers to rope you without paying the membership fees themselves (unless, of course, the site ITSELF is a botnet/scam, which seems to be on the rise). Including the email number here makes sense, IF you measure people who have BOTH sent and received email in a given month. Of course, they’d already mostly be covered by the paying users number.

    For free sites, it’s a little trickier… On the one hand, I think eliminating the profiles that did not send/receive email (preferably both) would dramatically shrink the database, but would still leave a ton of fake accounts in the numbers.

    The only way I can think of for free sites to achieve anything approaching reliable membership numbers without some form of offline verification would be to require a working unique facebook account per member… Not perfect, but FB really has created a very spam-unfriendly system up until now, and it’s in their direct interest to keep all their users real – something that has never been true for dating sites.

    Perhaps the most frustrating thing for me, as a newbie just getting started, is the perception of how many users you need in a single metro for the site to attract/retain members… Numbers based on the current over-inflated stats of the established players. Is it any wonder that so many new niche sites go the seed-and-weed route by prefilling their DBs with fake profiles?

  9. Thats why Facebook Connect is vital. Interestingly enough a number of dating sites have higher usage rates for Google or Yahoo sing-in than Facebook.

    Ross, women (and men) on dating sites that sit back and wait for the men to email deserve what they get. This isn’t 1950. I doubt these same people would throw their resume on a job board and just let it sit there. Always amazed me why people continue to adopt this antiquated stance on making the first move.

  10. David,
    You’re way off the mark. You’re talking about scammer profiles, but what the people are suing about (and there are reams of additional online reports and complaints about) are the fake profiles from too-good-looking people who are supposedly responding to your profile. They initiate winks and email (very briefly), but don’t actually carry on correspondence. They almost never reply when you respond to what THEY initiated, like a real person would. Winks and emails from these fakes come in thick and fast right after you join (To make you think, “Hey! look! This Match.com really works!”), and again right when your paid profile is about to expire, to get you to renew.
    How can you tell they aren’t real? (1) they are not in your area; no chance to actually meet live. (2) their profile photos (usually just one) are ridiculously attractive, posed shots, not the usual taken-at-my-cousin’s-wedding photos (3) The kicker: when you check “who’s viewed my profile”, they haven’t viewed your profile! Odd that they found you so alluring that they winked and emailed…even though they never viewed your profile. There are other clues that they aren’t real, but let’s call that good for now. Everyone who’s experienced these fakes (none of us in trailer parks, many with higher degrees, good jobs and busy lives) finds them more dishonest than the scammers, because they are obviously generated by the site. They don’t ask for money; they just waste your time, which unlike money, cannot be refunded. I fully endorse the lawsuit and will add my testimony to that of a few hundred or thousand others.

  11. “Marsha”, you are probably a competitor just out to make waves, am I right?

    You say all the right things, but offer no proof and mention “other clues.” Why not share them with us? You talk a good game but you don’t even send in a screenshot, which takes just a minute.

    “Lawyers performed ‘exhaustive analysis of thousands of fake, inactive and fraudulent profiles.”‘ Besides inactive, thats the definition of scammer to me.

    Most of those winks and emails come in because when you first join you are promoted heavily in search and email. Do you disagree with this?

    Unless I see the evidence, it’s all conjecture. Send me a zip file of a few hundred examples of people who email you and don’t show up in “viewed my profile” and all of the other alleged infractions and I’ll review and I would be happy to look into it.. Otherwise don’t waste our time.

    • No, David, I’m not a competitor. I’m not out to make waves. I’m reporting what I experienced. Many others have reported this as well, on blogs and scambuster sites online, under complaints about match.com. To find them, google “match.com fake profiles”.
      What’s notable is that when these people comment, many don’t write about it angrily, they are just puzzled, asking “Why did these attractive people wink and send brief emails, then never contact me again even after I replied positively? And why can’t I search their profiles, even just an hour after the wink?”
      Since you asked, that is one of the other ways you can spot fake profiles; they are unsearchable. In addition, the profiles that show with the contact don’t contain much detail, and even less detail about what they want in a match (“height: 3′ – 7′, religion: any, education: any”). Whatever contact they make; they do not comment on specific things in your profile, and (as mentioned) they don’t follow up on correspondence despite initiating contact. David, I wonder at your agenda, demanding “a few hundred examples” as proof. It’s not hundreds of profiles that email and don’t show up in “Viewed my profile,” – who would believe that kind of action? It’s 3 or 4, with another few popping up when action is slow and especially when it’s getting close to renewal time. You can multiply that by dozens of people who’ve experienced it and commented on scam sites. I experienced the same fake profile action on another site about 6 years ago, and ceased using the site. I didn’t expect it from match.com, and was saddened to see it.
      Yes, there are real profiles. Yes, there are scammers galore. Yes, there are fake profiles. And yes, that’s a cheap way for match.com to treat customers.

      • There is no agenda except perhaps the possibility of someone actually showing proof that these allegations occur. Some screenshots at the least, but nobody every has any.

      • What Marsha describes could easily be third party scammers – the fact that they send messages, and their accounts are deleted/unfindable a short while later would suggest scammers sneaking past the gates, then getting squashed by match… Not necessarily being run by match themselves.

        Still, David’s challenge is not only interesting, but pretty easy to take up! If no one else is up for the challenge, we can roll this into some non-fraud-related research we’re doing in a few weeks…

      • Deano, my gut tells me its third-party scammers as well. I buy Match a year at a time and don’t remember getting any last-minute emails. I’ll create a new account from scratch, not pay, and see what happens. Please do share you findings.

  12. What a joke! Scammers? How about the biggest scammer of all, the site! Marsha is right on the money. The rest of this discussion is nonsense. Follow the money. The dating site is in a perfect position to manipulate the subscriber to try to continue to extract dollars from their wallet. They know your preferences, can see which profiles appeal to you, the frequency with which you are viewed, winked at and emailed and how often you log on. It doesn’t take a live person or any effort to know all this or to be able to manipulate the subscriber. You can say what you want about me. I know there are real people on these sites as I have been on numerous dates, however to think a site could resist the temptation to keep dollars from walking out the door when they can continue to line their pockets with a few keystrokes is naive.

  13. Steve’s intuition may be correct, but without proof, its just speculation. I absolutely know of subscription-based dating sites that dabble in sketchy retention practices, but I remain skeptical that Match, a public company, would engage in these practices on an ongoing basis. We’ll just have to wait and see the the judge says.

  14. Coming to the discussion slightly late, but want to pick up on Ross Williams’ points from 25 January.

    1. The test Ross sets is absolutely right. Just to make sure, put yourself as a young guy in a remote location. The vast majority of sites will generate an amazing level of interest which cannot be from real people.

    2. Global Personals should be congratulated for the steps they are taking to reduce fake profiles.

    3. The industry definitely needs to take this whole area seriously. Just look at the increasing volume of negative publicity.

  15. Marsha & Steve:

    People trust anonymous posters on blogs about as much as they trust the online dating sites to only have paying, active and real profiles.

    That said, while unlike the proof you both supposedly have, I don’t think Match.com is seeding the site with truly fake profiles. Their financial statements with the SEC show almost 1.8 million PAYING users, not to mention. What is interesting though is that Match.com’s About Us page used to say that they had 15 million users, but they removed that. (I believe it got removed around the same time as the McGinn lawsuit that was later dropped. However, I could be wrong about the timing and/or the reason for its removal.)

    I don’t see Match having a reason to engage in this phony profile thing at this point in their business strategy. It literally can only go badly for them.

    The issue isn’t fake profiles – the issue is the freemium model that leads to sites where 75% or more of the members can’t send or receive emails. User A (a paid member) can’t tell who is and isn’t a paid member. User A emails User B and never gets a response. Why? Because User B receives an email that says “Someone has contacted you, upgrade your membership to find out who.” Sure if the user gets 30 or 40 emails they might upgrade, but if they were so quick to upgrade, they would have done so already. I think this is the part that’s misleading and potentially fraudulent. Either you should be able to contact a user or you shouldn’t be able to see their profile. It’s literally just that simple from a user’s perspective, but would seriously impact dating sites’ methods of customer acquisition.

    “It’s ok to look,” is one company’s tag line. The problem is, you don’t get dates by looking, you get dates by being able to write someone an email, have them respond, and begin a dialog. Unfortunately, the drive for higher and higher profits is completely at odds with what many online daters want — transparency.

  16. There is no 100% certain way to block scammers or fake profiles from a dating site. At Dating Factory we’ve manually moderated profiles since day one, we do e-mail verifiication and check the consistency of stated location with the IP address. We employ on top of that crowdsourcing with the “report a scammer” button on the system.

    There is no way to seal these things up totally. We are fairly new and don’t have “20 million” profiles to worry about. The commuinties have to police this themselves and report the abusers. I don’t know if it’s the fact we are doing a good job of stopping these people getting into the system or that most people don’t care enough to report someone, but we have very few complaints.

    As to lapsed profiles, we tend to cross market them onto something else if they are considered to be unconvertable (assuming they’ve opted in), it cost us or our partners money to acquire them so we do try and sell them something rather than keep trying to sell them dating. Otherwise the longer you haven’t been on the system the futher you slip down the search order. Not perfect but seems to be working.

    This sort of stuff isn’t difficult to implement and is very effective and a lot more practical than some form of global scammers database which is just the most improbable idea I’ve ever heard. Obviously suggested whose never run a system like this or any other for that matter.

  17. Mark, how does the cross-marketing work? Do you share email addresses with partners, send out offers on their behalf, or something entirely different?

    Agree about global scammer database, never work.

  18. The marketing mails come from our system and only to the opted in members, otherwise it’s Spam. We will either try and sell them another related product, for example cruises to seniors. Or move them around the system to a niche site if they didn’t find what they were looking for on a generic site, the niche will be dependant on what we know about them.

    We also have deals with other networks to offer our leaving members special offers on their networks. Cost of acquiring the members is pretty high particuarly in the US we as the network owners are duty bound to optimize the revenue we can extract from those members whether it’s on our system, on a competitors or on a third party site.

    People are way to hung up on their database, basically if they’ve been in the system a month the likelihood they are going to pay for our product is very slim, so we might as well try and sell them something else even if it’s a competing product. Our partners pay to get the members so we try to get as much as we can out of them on their and our behalf.

  19. One final note: There’s a HUGE difference between a site not doing enough to keep scammers off their site, and a site that intentionally creates fake profiles to lure non-paying members into paying, or to keep paying members from canceling their memberships.

    As for Mark — very interesting way of doing things. I can see why that might be beneficial.

  20. Ross Felix – you’re right on your scammer vs intentional fake messages point.

    I’ve identified the companies still using fake profiles and messages to attract custom. I don’t intend to release this in the public domain at this time but will do so in due course.

    Ross

  21. we get a large amount of daily attempts by potential spammers ( usually with yahoo.com addresses?) but we manually screen nearly all of them out at point of pre-approval….some are so imaginative you’ve got to take chance.
    we then have a large range of keywords loaded in the SW.. like Nigeria etc which trigger the suspend member mode.
    also we can pre-set the outgoing emails from a member.. to a level of no more than e.g. 4 of the same repeated outgoing message to other members…hitting this threshold suspends the members until we clarify it and most times it is a spammer coming in under the radar.
    it’s a slow and dispiriting process establishing a new site as we are, but our model is that we are only targetting those from our own country on New Zealand so it makes it easier.
    i think the real issue is , as above posters have pointed out, the fake profiles concocted by the website itself….it’s tempting but we can see no point…it’s all about the brand to us…the money comes later!?

  22. I have proof Match.com plays with subs to manipulate $$$ out of them. I quit my match.com subscription last night 3/28/2011 at about 11:30 pm at night. Over the course of the previous 4 days I had not received a single email reply back on multiple emails I had submitted to women last week. Within 1 hour of terminating my subscription, yes that’s not a misprint, within 1 hours time first at 12:35am and then at 12:47 am I had 2 emails in my regular emails inbox telling me somone had emailed me at match.com and I needed to subscribe to see who it was. Then this morning I get 2 more emails with the same thing before 7:00 am and another email that a woman just winked at me. So basically my account went almost 4 days with not a single email response, then as soon as I terminate my subscription I have no less than 5 supposed contacts (4 emails and a wink) within a 7 hour period from Midnight to 7:00 am this morning. Now you can choose to believ in fantasy if you want, I’ll believe what my gut tells me and what my gut and logic tell me is that match.com is a major league scam with loads of fake accounts, tons of good looking women who are either inactive accounts or not real accounts at all, and that most of this site is a manipulation to generate sub fees with very few women actually real who are of any quality at all. That’s just my take.

    • Hi John,
      My name is Norah Hart. I am the attorney on the Match.com case (the original one). Can you please call me at 212 897 5865, or 917 539 6312. Thanks.

  23. John:

    Assuming you’re correct, why haven’t you contacted the attorney on the lawsuit yet… It would sound like you have an absolutely fantastic case.

  24. Thats pretty damning evidence. I hope you took screenshots. If not, go do that.
    I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that dating sites are chock-full of scammers and fake profiles. Match and most reputable sites have, or are slowly beginning to realize that removing fake profiles and scammers helps business more than having loads of fake profiles. Of course there are a lot of crap dating sites out there who are more than 1/2 fake profiles, or purchased profiles that are inactive (whole other discussion).

    The problem is, and always has been, that we don’t know who is a paying member or not. If Match identified free members, that would go a long way towards removing user frustration. Don’t hold your breath though. Its not illegal, so they’re not going to change a thing any time soon.

    Not sure about “tons of good looking inactive/fake women.” Thats pretty subjective and unprovable.

  25. John, Ross and David,

    Just to explain how this could happen legitimately – Match could put expiring or recently expired profiles to the top of the search results – weighting them heavier when women search.

    So you’ll be more likely to receive a message than you were before. This could easily explain why you’ve experienced a surge in messages since expiring.

    We need to differentiate between algorithm of the product and blatant, intentional fake messaging by site owners – the two are very different.

    For the record – we don’t employ either of these approaches.

    Hope that helps to clarify,

    Best wishes,

    Ross

  26. Explains the lag time. I wonder if the people who sent messages would reply? Promoting expiring members makes sense from a business standpoint, but for the person it would be frustrating, as in “Where have you been all this time?”

  27. Ross (Williams) and Dave,

    I agree with you (as usual) — you too Dave.

    One point that always seems to get missed — is what do users do to get noticed? Writing a good profile ensures that members either write to you when they come across your profile the first time, or at least favorite you to go back later.

    That said, there are a variety of ways to “game the system” without paying to be a “featured/showcased etc” match, which often costs you extra money. One site had a glitch for many years that just hitting the “upload photo button” EVEN IF YOU DID NOT UPLOAD A NEW PHOTO would tag your profile as a “new” or “updated” account. This got you higher in the search results, since most people filter by “new” profiles.

    Other sites give you a new status based on whether or not your make tweaks to your profile. The downside here, is that many sites are still using a manual profile approval process (to try to eliminate people from saying this like “You can find me at my user name at the hotplace (i.e. hotmail.com)”. So, it means that a part of your profile might be down for the count for 24-72 hours.

    Yet other sites allow you to sort by who logged in most recently, or even who’s currently online.

    My end advice about all of that — find out the quirks of the site you’re on, and use them to your advantage to make sure you’re always as close to the top as possible. i.e. have 10 photos that you like, and every few days swap out one of your 4 for one of the other 6. Also, log in 2-3 times per day even if it’s just for 30 seconds.

    My issue here isn’t whether or not Match.com might have put you at the top of their list right after you stopped paying. It’s a great technique, not illegal, although possibly less than honest — as not only is it potentially unfair to the member who just stopped paying — imagine how unfair it is to the CURRENTLY paying member who might send you an email who doesn’t know that you can’t respond. The real question — Are these or are these not legitimate people sending you emails? If they’re legit emails, then I don’t have as much of an issue. These companies are around to make money not make matches.

    Final thought: The real question to me here is whether or not the people that ended up writing to John were real or fake accounts. If they were real accounts, then he’s got no case whatsoever. True, it wouldn’t be ideal business practices (from a customer perspective) but if they were real people writing to him, that’s life.

  28. I met with a very sharp dating startup founder last night and we talked a lot about how game mechanics, trust and reputation features can improve online dating.

    Here’s the problem, people don’t want to figure out the tricks of the site. In fact, there shouldn’t be any tricks. Nobody is going to update their photos every few days. I think they should actually auto-rotate.

    Increasing the amount people interact with a site by updating their profile/photos = Fail. Making profiles dynamic based on a persons lifestream and using aforementioned game/trust/reputation features = Winning! with a dose of Tiger Blood.

  29. Hi Guys

    We’ve watched this thread with huge interest because we’re in the very final stages of publishing a dating comparison table showing side-by-side features for all the major sites.

    Part of our research included a “Horse’s Head Test” (of TechCrunch/WooMe fame) of every UK site. Ross will be pleased to hear that WLD’s manual profile checks picked us up straight away. Good work.

    But we did notice some glaring holes that really could very quickly clear up the profile mess without firms having to release sensitive subscriber data. We’ve checked over 20 different feature points but we’ll be paying particular attention to the following as part of an overall anti-spam/scam/honesty rating for dating sites:

    1. Ability for daters to voluntarily remove profiles – very mixed use of this feature in the industry. It should be standard. (And not via a phone call or lengthy email process!)

    2. Showing last login date on searches/profiles – it tells subscribers a lot about a profile without firms having to provided aggregated stats (we know it’s sensitive). Again some sites do this well. Others really really don’t.

    3. Voluntary ID checks – stopping dodgy profiles (or minors) using a site can cost a few pence and takes seconds with online ID services. It’s less heavy handed than the US suggestion of background checks and, again, provides people a very indicator for profiles that are legit. This could be such an easy win – but we haven’t found a single website using this technology. Poor show and so simple.

    There’s a bunch of other stuff that could work better (re-billing springs to mind?) but these simple changes would help clear out the rubbish which inevitably builds in large databases.

    Keep you posted, comparisons should be up next week.

    Richard

  30. Dave,

    There are two schools of thought — one is wait until the dating sites improve their sites (good luck with that) or take the steps that you can to get the most out of your dating site. Yes, it sucks to have to do things like that — but it does work.

    True, the sites SHOULD reward those who are active, etc. Then again, another way of doing it is to enable people to easily remove others from their search.

    If there are 5000 possible matches for me on a site… if I’m able to either rank or hide people I’m not interested in, it means that new profiles, or profiles I’m interested in will by definition be higher in my list, because I’ll have filtered out the ones I don’t want.

    The problem is that sites want as many emails to be sent as possible to try to get non-paying members to convert to read those emails… So many of these filtering technologies would reduce their conversion rates.

    It’s time for the businesses and the users to have their desires a bit less misaligned.

  31. Hi Ross Felix,

    It’s very easy for sites to add a “don’t show me this person again” type function – this wouldn’t impact particularly on the amount of emails sent.

    We send over 4million emails per day now so a few people hiding profiles won’t make much of a difference.

    Ultimately commercial objectives drive the activity of a business – some businesses (those who fail to spot a horses head test) are driven by short term profit for shareholders. Others are looking to build long-term shareholder value in the business (we’re one of those).

    In terms of aligning desires – sites that people pay the most for will win, so they need to do what people are willing to pay for. They’re catering to the customer demand.

    Ross

  32. To the author,

    You are wrong in defending Match.com. There is no defense. Theft by deception is theft by deception. This site exploits vulnerable people due to greed and it’s wrong.
    Period. I wasted about two years of my life (literally hundreds and hundreds of hours responding to fake profiles) and hundreds of dollars as well on this site. They are robbing people of their discretionary time-their precious quality free time off work that can never be gotten back. All the site did for me in 2 years is help me become a better writer.

    I’m so glad to hear they will have their day in court. Sign me up. Send the higher-ups to prison where they belong. And this has nothing to do with being bitter about love. Nobody likes to be manipulated or stolen from. It’s that simple.

    You will probably delete this comment because you obviously have a hidden agenda; but now you have heard the truth, and if you delete this, then, you too, are an accomplice and will have to live your life knowing you have contributed to, yet more corporate greed and corruption. Strong choice of words or what truth feels like when you hear it? The later I think.

    Remember that, in defending them with you “spanners” and “scammers” comments, that you sir, have contributed to the very corporate greed that is eroding the foundation of the country in which you live when you take your sleeping pills at night. These are people’s lives and heart-felt emotions we are talking about as being at stake. Love lives and the basic human desire for companionship that have now been compromised-the suit has nothing to do with money. The suit is about right and wrong.

  33. Robert, I won’t delete your comment because you represent a lot of people’s opinions about online dating and its important for the industry to hear you.

    I have no hidden agenda, I’m incredibly transparent about what I feel the dating industry is doing right and wrong and have voiced these views since 2002. I’m as much on the side of singles as I am interested in improving online dating. You would know that if you took the time to read this blog.

    As for being an accomplice to corporate greed, not sure where thats coming from. I work with Internet startups and help them grow their businesses. Some of those companies are dating sites. They have business issues and I work with them to find solutions. I avoid shady companies and deals whenever possible. You are voicing your “I hate corporations” frustration at the wrong guy, believe me.

    You, like millions of people around the world, decided one day to sign up and paid for the opportunity to be on a dating site. Then you spent a lot of your free time doing online dating. And it didn’t work out for you. This is unfortunate.

    Some dating sites are hyper-ethical family-run businesses you would be proud to be a part of. Others are scam-filled money grubbing enterprises. Most of the industry lies in the middle of the spectrum.

    Does Match and the rest of the industry have much to learn about the impact of their business on people? Absolutely. Have they crossed the line on numerous occasions? Yes. Nobody is arguing that point.

    People are complicated and messy. Matching people is a complex process that the dating industry is not very good at. Then you have the personal histories and bias singles bring to online dating make it that much more difficult for dating sites to be effective. Online dating is never going to be like buying a couch on Craigslist.

  34. Hello,
    I have a sincere question. Why do you think “scmmers” or “young people” would be creating fake profiles on Match? My theory is that Match is generating the e-mails and chats, so that you will stay subscribed. I can see the motive for Match, but I cannot see how a “scammer” is going to make money by flirting with people on Match.com. Can you explain this to me? Thank you.

    • Norah – scammers create the fake profiles and messages to build relations with the recipients, before scamming them out of money.

      Eg – scammer pretends to be hot young girl messaging a guy on the site. Guy builds relationship with “her” over email. Girl agrees to meet guy but is – oh no – robbed on the way to the airport. Asks Guy to send money so she can buy ticket. Boom.

      That’s the gist of what happens.

      Scammers are responsible for the VAST majority of suspicious messages sent on reputable sites. A site like Match would not be sending fake messages (that’s not to say others don’t and the ones which do are well known to the industry) – however, as the largest dating site Match is a target for scammers.

      Match does a lot of work to prevent scammers and protect and educate their members – they will be able to demonstrate this.

      There are other sites which do create fake profiles and messages but Match certainly isn’t one of them and they will be able to defend this and demonstrate this.

      Ross

    • Simple. Ever heard of phishing?

  35. Match.com not only keeps false profiles up, they actually generate winks and email messages from said false profiles. I joined several months ago and since then a good half of the winks and messages I get from profiles that show as active, online now, etc. don’t exist. That is what really bothers me and why I am considering suing them. Match.com is deliberately generating false messages from inactive profiles in order to keep members paying. That is a fraudulent misrepresentation of their services.

  36. Valerie:

    Question 1: We you a paid or unpaid member at the time that these alleged fake winks and emails occurred.

    Question 2: Do you have real proof?

    If you do, there was a class action suit against Match launched earlier this year. Here’s a link to it. I’m sure they’d be happy to have you. http://classactionlawsuitsinthenews.com/class-action-lawsuits/match-com-class-action-lawsuit-complaint-filed-over-alleged-fake-profiles-on-the-match-com-online-dating-website/

    That said, Match with 1.8-1.9 million paying members out of 15 million or so (based on old numbers) total members really doesn’t need to resort to the same bush league tactics as some of the other sites.

    Finally, my last question — why do people join a paid dating site knowing that they cannot send and/or receive emails unless they first pay the monthly fee.

    Best of luck to you.

  37. I consider myself to be a “veteran” Match.com user. I’m 26, I’ve been a member for two years. I’ve dated girls “seriously” from the website (read: three month flings), and I’ve been on countless dates; five within the past month in fact. I’m willing to attest that the site works and does exactly what you want it to do, provided you play by social conventions and be what people want you to be (eg thin, attractive, outgoing, stable).

    I haven’t read the lawsuit. I read the gist of it which seems to be that Match has failed to remove inactive Match.com profiles which inflates their numbers. Now, I do have problems with Match.com; things I can’t prove, but it isn’t this.

    The concept of fraudsters on there who are fishing for personal information; I get that. That’s not something Match.com has any real control over other than being timely about dealing with it when made aware of it. In this case, over the two years I’ve been a member, I’ve been contacted only twice by “girls” I felt were not real. It’s easy to tell; they don’t want conversation, they want to deal through personal emails, there’s nothing in their profile referencing their hometowns.

    Inactive members I also can understand. Match.com can’t control who is active on their profiles that they’ve paid for and just simply walk away from the site. It happens. Match.com does however tell you the last time a person has checked into the site and allows member to search based upon how recently they’ve checked in. So I don’t see a problem with that either.

    No, my problem is what a few people have mentioned in the comments above; I believe Match.com re-activates old profiles and creates new ones for the sole purpose of winking or emailing random people. Attempts to contact these people by emailing them is a fruitless endeavor; they naturally will not respond. Prevailing logic would dictate that anyone taking the time to wink and not respond is not another client of the website, and for them not to fish for personal information says they aren’t scamming. Who’s left? Oh yeah that’s right: Match.com.

    By winking and emailing random people with fake profiles, it keeps the hopeless hopeful. It generates support for the site. It prompts Bob the 45-year old Accountant who just separated from his wife to tell coworker Bill at the water-cooler that the love-life is great; after all, some cute girl just winked at him on Match.com. Things are looking up, says Bob.

    Try this: allow your profile to lapse after a six month trial. I guarantee within a day you will receive an email from one of these fake profiles. Not a wink, mind you: an email. Oh but you can’t read it because you aren’t a member anymore. What could it say? Is it the love of your life? Is it opportunity knocking?

    Nope. It’s match.com preying upon you to shell out a couple hundred more dollars because you don’t know who sent the email.

    I’m used to this by now. I’m a moderately attractive guy; I’ve used Match to supplement my social life and it’s worked pretty well. You quickly figure out as I have that it’s a numbers game. Wink at every girl on the site, respond to who you feel like responding to. There are things not to like about Match.com and it’s tactics, but a class action lawsuit seems frivolous.

    That’s all I have to say. Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

    —-

    PS. Ross- “That said, Match with 1.8-1.9 million paying members out of 15 million or so (based on old numbers) total members really doesn’t need to resort to the same bush league tactics as some of the other sites.”

    That’s like saying that McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Walmart never have to advertise because, hey… everyone knows who they are. Newsflash, they all still advertise and do it heavily. Match.com is no different.

  38. Greg:

    When did I say Match didn’t have to advertise? In fact, I believe it was reported that Match spent $75 million in one quarter with their “rejected by eHarmony” campaign.

    What I did say though was that Match is large enough that I don’t think that they’re actively committing fraud as you accuse them. If you have proof that they’re committing fraud, I’m sure you could make a nice chunk of change off of them. Go ahead and join the lawsuit then. Personally, I don’t think the paid / unpaid members thing is truly fair, but that’s life. But I still don’t see them doing what you’re accusing them of. It just doesn’t make good business sense, as it’s something that they could easy get caught doing, which would ruin a huge business that they’ve been building since 1995.

  39. Dave Williot says:

    Hi, I’ve read this thread with interest. I didn’t know too much about the lawsuit but would like to add my two cents.

    I’ve just got off the phone with Match.com UK following a heated call about cancelling my subsription. Why?

    Well I used the site a few years ago and met a few nice people so thought I would check it out again as I now find myself single. Having tried a few sites in the past I thought Match.com was probably the most reputable (tv ad campaign, brand etc). However I was shocked by what I found.

    Firstly a misleading signup process which is now in place which now means I have forked out for a 6 month subscription (it was positioned as signing up for a month) – and the further indignation that I can’t even cancel my commitment now to stop a further six months being debited! I have to call back 72 hours before the final debit is due at some date months in the future. Oh and I can’t even cancel from the website but have to make a call…. all in all classic marketing bad practice to make revoking my membership as difficult as possible.

    Of course the T+C’s explain how this works… ah the ones buried below the page fold in tiny writting… but enough about bad ethics….

    What really shows these guys up to be unethical scammers was the profiles on the site. I agree with the above… a sudden flurry of winks and emails on reactivating my profile but no response, even though the profiles that sent them seem to remain online 24 hours a day. Possibly they have fallen dead at their computer while logged in (joke) or more sinister purposes?

    What really incensed me is that I am scrolling through the pages in my age group ( I live in a major town and am in my 30’s so hardly an obscure category) and who do I see? Only a couple of girls who I took out two years ago! Unfortuntately for Match I still keep in contact with them… one is due to marry later this year and has not been on the site to the best of my knowledge while dating her future husband over the last two years, while a quick call to the other revealed she has not been on the site, or paid for over a year and a half.

    If you don’t believe this they both came up in the intial age range serach from when the profile was first submitted – same descriptions,pictures etc. (Of course now two years down the line they should no longer appear in that search as they are two years older!)

    As a final note I just hid my profile 30 mins ago as I want nothing to do with the site (for some reason I can’t delete it because I haven’t yet made the additional payments) and Outlook has just popped up with a message notification to say someone just viewed my profile. So how does that work then? Mmm… and they come from Grampian (630 miles away!- which is about as far away from my hometown that you can get without standing in the sea…..

    The whole company stinks and I hope they get a good hiding in the courts!

  40. I found this page after doing some research on this subject after investigating whitelabeldating.co.uk and it’s many resellers, which I think the owner Mark Williams has commented above on this very forum. I was interested to read his comments above that he seems to be portraying his site as not engaging in dubious practice to trick men into paying for a subscription. After testing the site we were able to prove that it sends auto generated messages from fake or bait inactive user profiles which would never yield a response even though they supposedly initiated the conversation. We were able to discover how to get success from the site once you realise how it works and that the majority of profiles are fake or inactive although they seem to say the user logged in recently on the profile. We also found that the site is moderated in such a way that they are very worried about the system being revealed. One of our test accounts was cancelled because we revealed in a diary post that we were journalists reviewing the site. Luckily they didn’t cancel the account quickly enough and as a result of the diary post we managed to get enough information from some other users to figure out exactly what was going on.

  41. Alden:
    Then by all means, post a website with the proof and contact a lawyer and make a ton of money.

    The point is, there are a variety of flaws in the sites. For example: If I hide my profile on Site X so that no one can see me, and I send an email, it’s possible that the person thinks my account is gone. (The flaw there is that I shouldn’t be able to send an email if my account is hidden, or it should allow the recipient to see my account and reply to my email.)

    Seriously, if you guys have real proof, go to a lawyer, they’ll start a class action lawsuit, and you could probably get a piece of the fee. What are you waiting for?

    I’m not here saying that this stuff doesn’t happen. I’m just saying I’ve yet to see proof. I hope there IS proof, as I’d really love this industry that I love so much get cleaned up.

  42. i don’t think it will be easy to prove in such a way that would be good enough for a court without having access to the system itself. I mean it”s pretty easy to work out how it works after only a short while using it, specially if you have an technical understanding of database and web development. As it goes I think the system is fairly basic by todays standards. But exactly what is the real status of all the bait profiles would be impossible to say without inside access. I think if it wasn’t for the fact the site sends fake messages it wouldn’t actually be too bad as long as you were aware that the majority of profiles especially the ones that seem too good to be true were not even worth the time looking at. But then even if you are aware of that you would still never know because some profiles are actually real . I estimate it could be as high as 80% of the female profiles are inactive or fake. The site is different if you are a female user because it doesn’t send fake messages to female users and most male profiles are active although not necessarily paid members.

    I wouldn’t agree that these are flaws they are there by design. If they were flaws they would be too easy to fix.

  43. I actually suspect Its possible the business model would fail if these tactics were not employed, as I think in reality there is a big difference in the amount of woman to men specially on the sex dating type of site. I’m not sure if I would personally be annoyed enough about it to take legal action from the experience I had, as the site can still work even though it’s heavily biased not to. The pricing structure is heavily weighted to encourage longer commitment so I think consumers should to be warned about how its fundamentally a disshonest system, but perhaps it would still be of some use at the same time because there probably is nothing better anyway in that niche of the market?

    Bit like going to the fairground and playing the prize games. You basically get ripped off but there is still some fun to be had!

  44. Alden,

    Let’s start with the actual facts. Match.com is part of a publicly traded company that reveals its financials every quarter. One of the things that it reveals is the number of paid members that it has. Their most recent 10-Q can be found here: http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/891103/000104746911004675/a2203680z10-q.htm . Additionally, up until about 2 years ago they were advertising that they had approximately 15 million total users. You can then get an estimate for what percentage of Match.com’s users are paid members (meaning they have the ability to send and receive emails).

    That said, you started using the word “prove” before … from a legal standpoint, you’ve got to be careful once you start throwing around words like that, because it could potentially open you up to a slander / libel (whichever one is legally correct) suit.

    There are plenty of ways, using social media that you could attempt to prove this if you really wanted to. Also, if you had some evidence you could attempt to get a subpoena or at the very least cause enough of a stink through social media to make them want to prove that this isn’t what they’re doing.

    Truth of the matter, this is a business where doing a good job loses your customers, in the sense that they no longer need your business, but at least they’ll refer other customers. If you do a bad job you also lose customers, but they spread negative sentiment.

    The questions that remain are:
    1) Did Match.com create fake profiles and then contact other members using these fake accounts in an attempt to lure them into paying a monthly fee. (Doubtful in my mind)
    2) Did scammers outside of Match.com use Match.com’s services to attempt to scam it’s members? (Possible) — did the accounts disappear prior to being able to respond making it seem like the profiles never existed? (Possible) Were those accounts deleted by Match due to the fact that those accounts were fraudulent and were going to hurt its members (Also possible)

    End result, until I see actual proof that they’re doing this, I’m going to remain highly skeptical that it’s real.

    Now… do many paid dating sites have a business model that completely screw its members? Heck yes ! The fact that only 20% of a dating site can actually send and receive emails and don’t know who can or can’t read an email that they send? Well, that’s horrible, and truly deplorable. Is it legal? It’ll take someone far smarter than me to answer that question.

    • >>The questions that remain are:
      >>1) Did Match.com create fake profiles and then contact other members using >>these fake accounts in an attempt to lure them into paying a monthly fee.
      >>(Doubtful in my mind)

      Not necessarily. On the site I tested the fake messages could be from real, inactive or fake profiles. It would be impossible to tell without inside access. but a message in reply to a bogus message is not even sent to the user.

      >>2) Did scammers outside of Match.com use Match.com’s services to attempt >>to scam it’s members? (Possible) — did the accounts disappear prior to >>being able to respond making it seem like the profiles never existed?
      >>(Possible) Were those accounts deleted by Match due to the fact that those >>accounts were fraudulent and were going to hurt its members (Also >>possible)

      I think that’s highly unlikely. The fake messages on the site I tested are from a limited random selection of texts often the same and are obviously sent by a bot. I am unable to think of any reason a third party could benefit from that. But I can easily think why the site operator can benefit.

      >>End result, until I see actual proof that they’re doing this, I’m going to remain >>highly skeptical that it’s real.

      I think it’s very easy to prove it to yourself. And probably anyone who has used a site that uses these tactics will know it’s true. But like I said that’s a different matter to proving in a court. I think with the sheer amount of people claiming this practice it’s pretty obvious somethings not right.

  45. My view is these types of businesses are just chancing it. It doesn’t really matter how large it is or whether they publish their financials. If the original business model was built on that disshonest system. And it just did very well financially because of that disshonest system. They would believe if it was changed it would lose money or even fail, they will just keep going until something stops them. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened! It would not be possible to prove it without somehow first seizing the equipment and website code. This would rely on a police raid or a court order. Or a very good hacker :-) I would think a class action lawsuit being the only real method of attack for the individuals then if that started to look bad as the court case went on, they could just change the code. Or just not care and bankrupt the company. I’m sure the profits are not still in the same company :-)

  46. Aiden – one should clarify that whitelabeldating.co.uk is not part of Global Personals Ltd (which runs WhiteLabelDating.com among other sites) – it’s actually run by World Dating Partners who are a completely different provider. Unfortunately due to an admin error a few years ago, they managed to acquire the .co.uk domain.

    I won’t comment on what other white label systems do, but we have no fake profiles nor fake messages on our platform – we’ve worked very hard to secure the integrity of our platform and our business, removing scammers. I absolutely agree with you that other companies whose business model relies on such underhand tactics have a dubious future.

    If you have any questions at all regarding our platform, you can contact me personally via rwilliams AT globalpersonals.co.uk.

    • I made a typo earlier. I did mean your site. I find it very hard to believe it has no fake messages at least. We used a reseller so I suppose it’s possible they have their own bot software? But we saw many messages that were almost certainly auto generated mostly using similar strings of text and slightly odd grammar typically used by bots appearing to be real. Like I said above only logical explanation is to benefit site operator, unless of course it’s competitors trying to pollute your site. But even that is not as likely in my opinion.

  47. Hi Alden / Aiden,

    We don’t have resellers but we do have partners – either way they can’t use any bot software, we approve all messages that go through.

    The only thing you could be referring to are Icebreakers – a system which allows each new member to introduce themselves *once* to existing members without having to pay to send the message. It helps them get going on the site quickly – however, before they can send an icebreaker they need to have their email address, profile and photo verified by our team.

    I can absolutely assure you that we don’t send fake messages or have fake profiles on the site – I’m very happy for you to visit our offices in Windsor and see for yourself.

    I believe it’s actually against site operators best interests to send fake messages – and we’ve proved this. A rather large competitor of ours sent fake message to their customers and of course those customers will convert quickly. HOWEVER – crucially – customers don’t stay around if you use such tactics, they’ll pay for one month then leave. It’s much, much better to have a business where customers make genuine contact with real people so they continue to use the service and even return should a new relationship be unsuccessful.

    Far better to offer a genuine, effective service to help people find love online.

    Ross

    • Many times after my membership expired I was sent fake profiles from “Match”
      of gorgeous women in my area enticing me to re-join to read these emails. I have come accross fake profiles many many many times. After being on “Match” on and off for many years and can now easily pick these fake profiles out. I’m not familiar with scammers as in some of these comments listed, I’m very familiar though with these fake enticing profiles baiting me to
      re-join…These profiles are built and put on by “Match” for no other reason than to bait me back in. They are not old profiles accidentally not removed from the system, obviously there are several problems here….
      John

  48. My first thought when I read about this lawsuit was that match is getting sued for creating fake profiles to keep current members interested. This probably includes keeping expired member’s profiles on the site again to appear like there are more active people. I didn’t read the lawsuit but if match is doing this I hope they get sued for fraud.

  49. David,

    you make some good points and there’s an easy tendency to make fun of online daters, but you are missing a big point. The expired profiles should not even be considered in this argument; thats a reasonable expectation for a site like this. the point you are missing is that there is no evidence of spamming. spamming on sites like ebay and sex sites have motive, and that motive is to fraud people out of money directly or to get them to click on links. there is no effort on the fake profiles to have people follow these paths. these profiles are strictly on there, put on by match employees or “subcontractors” to keep people interested. its a really obvious motive. how easy is it to get one of those desperate guys you joked about to pay for membership extension if even one fake winks at him. or if a guy that typically dates beautiful women is on match, match needs to put beautiful women on there to keep him interested. so they do that and put the same boiler plate profile up there about “i like going out but also staying in with my man and watching movies”. i dont know how much more obvious it could be

  50. California Dater says:

    Well I have no idea how many people are still reading this, but here’s my .02.

    I have a number of years experience with various dating sites including some semi-inside information, and I’m also in the IT field.

    The first problem with the various allegations made here is that many individual users jump to unscientific conclusions based on tiny sample-sizes, and in my experience it is extremely common for people to assign blame for their lack of dating success on the site itself, often with little real foundation.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t dating sites that are sleazy in terms of contrived users or activity, because I’ve seen ‘em. This fact doesn’t seem to be in question amongst what appear to be regular posters here.

    But for those of you like ‘alden’ who have seen poorly-fabricated fake users (ie identical boilerplate text, ‘spammer grammar’, stuff that will raise red flags for most any experienced online dater), there are a variety of motivations for 3rd-party scammers to create such users en-masse (generally using automated bots), some of which were described in earlier comments here. There doesn’t need to be any motivation on the part of the site owner – all the scammer needs is to get a 1 percent response rate (maybe less) for their camgirl site or ‘had terrible accident can you help me out/please wire money’ scam, and they’re making lots of money. The fact that you notice the profile gone shortly thereafter can and often most certainly does mean that it’s in the process of being weeded out of the system for fraud.

    And for the person that had a profile on match for a week – I’m not at all convinced that using the site for only 4 days and then getting a slew of messages at the end of the week really amounts to a particularly scientific test – a lot of people might just take that long to respond to an initial message anyway. Now if you had virtually no action for 6 MONTHS, and the day you cancelled you got a flurry of messages, that would be another matter.

    But certainly dating sites could do a better job of informing users what’s going on. (ie send user a message “sorry, that account was deleted for site policy violations” in response to the email that went to the bit-bucket.

    And while most of the large well-known sites probably aren’t going to expose themselves to liability by engaging in blatant fake-user or fake-contact fraud, by the same token many of them aren’t necessarily doing the best job they can of winnowing the user-list down, letting users know who is or is not truly active, and so on.

    My personal pet peeve was mentioned earlier – most of the dating sites I’ve used haven’t had an easy/quick/efficient way of flagging every account you’ve considered and rejected, and for obvious reasons: if there are no new users in your target area/demographic the next time you logon, most dating-site owners are scared-to-death of the idea that when you go do a profile/match search you get a big giant “We got nothin!” message. So most sites tend to play games to make the search process very “fuzzy”, to keep your interest anyway.

    That said, such practices don’t even hold a candle to blatant ‘fake user/fake contact’ stuff, which probably should be illegal under standard fraud statutes, IMHO.

  51. At this point, I’d love to find out if there are any updates on the suit.

  52. Match.com oh here is a really attractive pic of women probably 10000 of guys have tried to contact her, she hasn’t been on in 3 months.

    and that goes for every other scam on the site. It’s marketing it’s getting the dogs in to pay the money then try and fish with out success.

    I had so many damn women try and get me to pay for there online shows? the women are only there to advertise there web shows.

    Honestly most of the people and the place are a scam.

    • You know, you are right. There are so many fake profiles on match.com that I think owners of the website create them themselves in order to entertain and attract more members. On the other hand, I have noticed that many men on the site live in unrealistic world. I have seen ugly, unfit old guys who want no less than a 25-35 year old beauty, slender, toned, witty, educated, interesting,,, you name it. They have to look at themselves in the mirror before desiring all of this. No wonder, they are divorced, separated or never married, pathetic loosers.

      • Advertising has taken a turn for the worst. As a college graduate, I find it appalling that companies like the listed above (Match, Fling and the rest of them) are so “hell bent on making money” at everyones expense, that they employ spammers to send emails with “sexy photos” to get the receiver to check out a web based dating site.

        Not everyone in the world is a “scum bag”, and not everyone in the world that has been deceived by the practices that are now in place by these types of companies that have such little respect for potential customers that are real people, that these customers may be lonely or whatever, and have no regard or concern for any of these people still promote tens “lets scam” and take all that we can attitude before the silent majority stands up and says “we will not allow this type of business to continue. We will not dilly sit by and let it happen to others. These businesses need to clean up their act, be responsible or get the hell out of this country. I am not an advocate of government control as that always leads to laws that are written by idiots and are enforced by idiots and the end result is waste of hard earned tax payer dollars. Fraud is illegal / theft is illegal / misuse of secure information is illegal. We need to put a stop to they type of business activity once and for all.

      • I firmly believe that match.com pays or somehow works with employees to keep accounts live to talk to people only for so long before the exchange of a number or meeting up.

        I have talked to numerous girls all going great for a few days. Until its time to meet, then it is like I have never talked to them before. They are gone with the wind. Either these profiles are fake or they just think that I am creepy. LOL

      • No wonder they are “divorced, separated, or never married?”

        I guess genevieve would rather look at profiles of married guys. ;)

      • So true. I am a matchmaker and the guys all want younger, slender and toned, no matter how old or what they look like. Certainly a challenge for me. It is a curse on all men, they can’t get over their “visual nature.”

  53. Steven,

    Can I ask you a dumb question. Do you think that Match.com actually makes money from those scammers — i.e. the women that are trying to do these cam shows and get you to pay for them? The simple answer is no. The other answer is that not only doesn’t Match get paid, it’s probably against their terms of service. Have you thought about reporting those members?

    It’s funny… I was on Match and other sites on and off for almost 10 years before meeting my wife. I had first dates with over 400 women during that time period.

    Look, I’m not saying that I agree with their membership model of paid members being the only ones to send or receive emails. I’m also not saying that I agree with the way that other “freemium” sites hide who is or isn’t a paid member.

    But having met hundreds on Match, JDate, Lavalife and other sites, I can tell you there are real people on those sites. In addition to the 400 that I went out on dates with, I also interviewed over 1000 singles face to face about their issues with online dating.

    So, yes, the freemium sites need to clean up their acts A LOT, but I think you’re mistaking things that the sites themselves do wrong with things that people who sign up for the site do wrong.

    • Steven, you are probably lying about those 400 and that you were on the dating site for 10 years. Hard to believe. Does not make much sense. Are you a scammer perhaps?

      • Genevieve,
        One, get my name right please, it’s right above the post that you maligned. I was one of the first members of match.com in 1995. Match launched by giving away 60,000 free accounts for life. I received one of those accounts. Additionally, I was one of the early members on JDate, and also tried out about a dozen sites. I was serious about meeting people, and put effort into it.

        Most people think you create a blah profile on a site, and put up a crappy picture and you’re going to get hits. What they don’t know is that people can search for things like how long it’s been since your last login. Some sites also promote people with newer profiles. Years ago, just updating a photo on JDate put your profile to the top of the search results. Doing things like that and actually “working” the online dating site the way you would a job hunt is what got me the results I had. I’m not saying that I had a good percentage (i.e. emails sent to dates), but the point was, I never stopped trying.

        Oh, and I’ve actually met Mr. David Evans that runs the site. He knows my story… and I think I’ve even bored him with a few of the photos from my wedding … to a woman I met on a dating site. I’ve also counseled hundreds on their online dating through my twitter feed. So, I don’t know who the heck you are — but I’m no scammer.

      • The wording of the Ross Felix comments is identitcal from those who use to scam the internet.

    • jim selchert says:

      They do however make money from using fake profiles to get people to pay for their site…..that’s what needs to stop

  54. I’m tired just thinking about 400 dates. Like 40 First Dates times 10.

  55. Dave:

    You’re tired about thinking about it — what do you think it was like to pay for them :) The end of the story is, I did meet my incredible wife… and that’s truly made the rest worth it, and there’s no way I would have met her face to face.

    Now, that doesn’t mean the sites made it easy for me. In fact, I often say that I met her IN SPITE of the sites as opposed to because of them… but the end result remains the same.

  56. Right on Ross. Dating sites are categorically terrible at giving singles any sort of guidance past the bleach-blonde 50-something “I was sexy once” Dating Guru writing for their magazine. Cliche I know, but after reading lukewarm recycled Tips and Hints junk for so many years, its no wonder single people today are so lost when it comes to online dating. Same repackaged crap recycled year in and out, sigh.

    The advice sucks, the matching systems aren’t very good, basically everything is stacked against the people paying to meet someone online. And yet we pay, every month, because as someone told me many years ago, dating sites are simply selling hope.

    Interactive guidance is where its at. You do something good that earns you more exposure, higher search ranking, a shiny yellow star, etc. You screw up, you get demoted until you exhibit better behavior. This is way over the pay grade of most dating industry executives, who are tasked with reducing customer churn, acquisition costs and lifetime customer value.

    Should dating sites focus on improving matching systems or improve people? I’d rather see them help people first, which would make it a lot easier to match people.

    Ross, you are a stubborn son of a bitch and I applaude your Herculean dating efforts. Someday I want to meet your wife. I wonder what her dating story is compared to yours, I bet she was Match/JDate for a week and you were her first date ;-)

  57. “Do you think that Match.com actually makes money from those scammers — i.e. the women that are trying to do these cam shows and get you to pay for them? ”

    Of course they make money off it. Fake profiles encourage people to pay for a subscription so they can contact said fake profiles.

    Though I completely agree with the sentiment of the article; this is just lawyer parasites looking for the biggest teat to feed off of. There are dozens of dating sites that don’t have any real profiles at all; the ones pushed endlessly by spammers. The ones where you log in and it tells you there are 300 people in your area no matter where you’re at… but to see more you just have to pay! They’re downright criminal, the definition of fraud. But there is no money to bleed out of them…

    Match.com is one of the straightest and most legit out there. But, no one is immune to parasites. F’ck lawyers.

  58. This was the most truthful article I had ever read regarding Match.com and the lawsuite that was brought against them. I have no doubt that this lawsuite will be thrown out of court.

    The people that conjured up this crap obviously have nothing better to do with their time. Just another example of people not wanting to take responsibility for their own actions. I see profiles all day long of old guys thinking they have what it takes to pick up a young 20 something with daddy issues. News flash grandpa, you don’t have that much money, and your not that good looking!

    The women that allow themselves to get tricked into sending money to a person they never met. HELLO!!! don’t ya think thats blantly stupid and irresponsible of you! Yet they do it anyways, and then get pissed off at Match.com because they’re a complete moron. So not only are they still single, they’re poorer than when they started. I mean seriously people! I wouldn’t even loan my sister $5, let alone send thousands of dollars to someone i’ve never met!

    Bottom line is grow the F up, and take responsibility for your own actions. Realize that Match.com can’t help fat, ugly, and stupid. Stop thinking you’ve got what it takes to pick up someone that looks like Brad Pitt, or Halie Barry. Realize your limitations, and start shopping in the right section. And for God’s sake people use that thing between your ears as something more than an object to keep your head from caving in.

  59. This article is so biased! I have had Match.com make up fake profiles, have that person e-mail me so that I would subscribe and then they mysteriously delete their profile! I know they do it, no I can’t proof it, but I bet the x-employees could!

  60. Randal,

    That rant barely qualified as English. And what’s worse, is that your statement could be easily proven.

    If you, and the hundreds of other people like you, who seem to “know for a fact” that Match is doing this, got together, you’d have a case.

    Step 1: List the date that your membership expired.
    Step 2: List the date that you received the “fraudulent email”
    Step 3: List the date that you upgraded your membership
    Step 4: List the name of the user that emailed you and the content of the email with the date you attempted to contact the person.
    Step 5: List the result when you attempted to contact them (i.e. the profile no longer existed).

    This would be very easy to prove… but everyone has all of this supposed information and yet no one has bothered actually coming forth. This is a $450 million business. They don’t need to resort to these bush league tactics any more if they ever did.

    Want to complain about something? Complain about the ratio of paid to unpaid members on paid dating sites. That’s something VERY legitimate and is a plague within the industry.

    p.s. Dave, in response your prior comment — She was on the sites for less than 2 months total.

    • I agree with the complaint. My subscription has run out so my profile remains in unsubscribed status, which is ok with me because I thought one day I would try it again. The reason Match doesn’t mind promoting unsubscribed members is because they keep any interest, emails, etc…, that might be shown to my profile hidden so you cannot see if you are receiving an email from a spammer or a fake user. This makes you want to subscribe to see who might be interested. Once you subscribe, you realize you’ve received an email from a fake user asking for an email address. Zoosk allows you to see a picture and first email from a potential contact. Since spammers are typically removed within a few days, you can also determine if they are removed from the site. Typically, based on the boundaries Zoosk sets, you can determine whether you are being contacted by a fake or real user without re-subscribing. I’m not promoting Zoosk, I’m just pointing out the flaws at match that cost people money. This is the complaint with Match.com on this blog and my peeve with it… Match wants you to pay them but cannot guarantee an interest in your unsubscribed status is legitimate first. Email from Match, ‘Someone sent you an email’, pay us first, then will allow you to see if it’s from a fake user or not. Furthermore, don’t think they mind it or they would give you a money back guarantee or allow you to see this first. I would re-subscribe to Match if I knew someone interested was real or had a basic appearance of that. No site is perfect and all will have spammers/fakes/phishers. However, there are signs that will help users by allowing some of the boundaries allowed for unsubscribed profiles to be opened.

    • jim selchert says:

      It’s a $450 million dollar bussiness partially because of fraud….that’s the problem,don’t pretend this practice doesnt happen…..are you a web site employee?

  61. Looks like Match.com didn’t learn their lesson entirely. Tineye.com will let you search for copies of photos. I’ve found many profiles with photos that are in use elsewhere on the web and reported them. However, some are allowed to stay up despite numerous reports. Here’s a list https://sites.google.com/site/lartingyou/profiles-on-match-com-whose-photos-are-elsewhere

  62. From a match.com expert:

    I’ve used match.com off and on for 10 years. I’ve subscribed using my own profile, a fake female profile with pics, and a fake male profile with pics.

    I can tell you that match.com did nothing whatsoever to minimize my fake profiles. I’ve subscribed simultaneously under my own profile and the fake female profile–i.e. I used the same credit card so that i could send and receive emails of both profiles–and match.com did nothing to flush me out. They should know that my credit card was being used for separate profiles. They’re negligent at best, but I think they couldn’t care less. They just want money.

    As long as you’re shelling out $40.00 a month for memberships–it’s all good with match.com. And unfortunately it’s gonna take someone getting killed to shine the spotlight on match.com.

  63. If you want to know if you are dealing with a fraudulent profile there is a simple way. Create your own fraudulent profile and send interest to the suspect profile. If interest is returned you have confirmed the profile as a fraud. You will know your “winks” are legitimate if the only profile receiving winks back is your original. If both were winked back it is likely a fake trying to lure both into a subscription.

  64. At the end of the day they (MATCH) are a business (they want your money) It is false advertising to get you to sign up and it is wrong to not let you leave and dismantle your profile when you want. It looks like there is way more success and activity happening than there really is. It is not good business to MATCH you up and get you off of there. They will keep you hungry for more and the “next best thing”. the average person down the street is not so satifactory to the starving divorced individual who has such high hopes for the next go around. …and so you pay and continue to look because some great (fake) profiles are intreging and set a higher standard than you can really obtain.

  65. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY FAKE PROFILES!
    IT IS A BUSINESS & THEY WANT YOUR MONEY. THE MORE YOU STAY THE MORE MONEY THEY GET. WHAT IS REALLY DISTURBING IS YOU CAN BE HAVING DIALOGUE AND EMAILS WITH AN EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTED PERSON HIDING BEHIND A PROFILE. Maybe not even the sex (male/female) you expect!SOME EX- EMPLOEES HAVE COME FORWARD. SOME ARE TOO FEARFUL. KINDA CREEPY REALLY.

  66. I think they have fake pofiles cause I have joined a couple times. and both times when my sub expired I always seem to get emailed by someone.. and winks but when my sub is active I don’t get as much response from women.

    It also suck that if you get emailed you have to join to read it.. I could be emailing non subs and getting no response cause thay have not joined. I can understand having to pay to send an email but if someone emails me or I pay and email someone they should be able to email back. My sub just ended a couple days ago now I have a email and wink.. after send multiple emails during my sub period with no response..
    +
    Oh well I refuse to join to read those emails I paln on deleteing my profile and pics

  67. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.

    If you guys are so convinced that Match is a scam, stop hiding on a bulletin board and hire an attorney. Match has millions of dollars. Instead of whining that you can’t find a date, you’ll be able to hire matchmakers to find them for you. At that point you’ll be able to hire http://pattistanger.net/.

    Here’s the biggest issue that I see. Users don’t bother promoting their own accounts. Well, I would imagine that dating sites might promote users who’s accounts just expired. Why? They know you’re willing to pay for the site, and they know you’re not a stale account. However, considering these sites are often 80% unpaid members and 20% paid members — the following issues could occur.
    1) Your unpaid account gets promoted — and someone with an unpaid account winks you. Well, you log back in, and pay to email her. Well, her account is an unpaid account so she can’t reply… so you think her account is fake.

    Is that a fake account? Nope. Is what just occurred ethical? That’s questionable. The real issue here remains not about fake accounts vs. real accounts, but the whole issue of paid sites that have both paid and unpaid members. I think that’s the dirtiest issue in the industry. Look at the financial statements from Match and Spark Networks, for example, and then compare the paid members to the advertisements and you can do the math.

    2) You joined a dating site and paid for the account. You never changed your profile, you rarely logged in and you rarely searched for dates, and emailed two woman. Now your membership is over and you’re getting emails. That’s because the site did more to promote your profile after you left than you bothered to while you were on the site.

    If you are going to join a dating site — you need to work it like you’d work Monster.com. You put up a killer profile, you change it if it isn’t working for you, you constantly search, log in daily, and contact everyone in whom you’re interested. Oh… and write a proper “cover letter” — not just “hey, you’re cute, let’s go out.” Otherwise, real, fake, scam, legit, you deserve the zero results you get.

    • Hey Ross Felix, I agree with you. While I can sympathize with those who have spent $ on a dating site becoming upset over this behavior. How can the lawsuit win? It clear that if Site operators are taking appropriate effort to remove fake profiles the Plaintiffs would need to PROVE, Match is deliberately targeting expired members with emails from “removed or suspended” accounts to win.
      I have personally spent several thousands on dating sites. Then I found my wife at a small site that was free. Ironic. I think this “perceived fake fear”, is why “Quasi Free, like POF” and Totally Free sites like hellomisthailand.com are popular. The latter site appears to have only family members on it! they all look similar. Maybe the patriarch of the family is tring to get the daughters married off! I can’t even figure out how that site makes ANY money, or pays the bills. The site does not even have ads! So you get what you pay for I guess. But I got lucky so I don’t care!

  68. terri love says:

    Match and other top sites were most disappointing — I signed up, paid and received more than 100 matches the first 2 days — then none; and only two answered my “smiles” or “ice breakers”, and, I saw those two matches modeling on sites that have nothing to do with dating — I am a good catch and my “killer profile” could not solicit one smile or nudge? — smelled fishy to me and I closed my accounts — another pet peeve is that (as a test) I googled senior singles and up popped the top two sites with pic of seniors, etc. to pull me in; also, I googled African American singles and up popped the same two sites with the same phony promises & African American pics — I received 2 or 3 “matching” matches but lots and lots of young white men — SHAMEFUL!!! my advice: go out, do your thing, and let your love find you.

  69. cindy w says:

    It is a needle in haystack. Possible to find someone but both have to be realistic.

    As a former beauty queen, advanced degree, financially secure, divorced but no children, non smoker) ,I was bombarded with emails!!! found a 56 Man That I thought was interesting and a full 10 years older than myself

    We exchanged private email address and Told him I was leaving Match.

    the next day I sent him private email he responded with “Who are you?” Seriously , you don’t get that much response outside of the site from a quality person that you can afford to blow off.

    I sent 1 reminder pic he was “Wow when can we meet” we spoke on the phone and planned a meeting and he never showed up. Again I was already out of this guys league.

    What is funny I still get carded and was already a decade younger. The dude is still dateless on Match

  70. esmeralda says:

    I HAVE BEEN ON 10 DIFFERENT DATING SITES AND MATCH.COM HAS GOT TO BE THE WORST ONE I HAVE EVER BEEN ON , I SENT OUT 15 MESSAGES TO DIFFERENT MEN AND DID NOT RECEIVE ONE NOT EVEN ONE ANSWERE BACK I WAS SO FURIOUS THAT I CALLED THE CONTACT NUMBER TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS GOING ON ,THE LADY IN CHARGE TOLD ME SHE WOULD CHECK MY MESSAGUES TO SEE IF THEY EVEN GOTTEN THEM (SHE DID THIS FOR FREE,DID NOT CHARGE ME FOR THIS SERVICE) NOT ONE OF MY NESSAGES WERE EVEN OPENED AT ALL !! I WAS FURIOUS THEY WERE GHOST MEMBERS THAT WERENET EVEN THERE ANYMORE ,I ASKED THEM HOW MATCH.COM WITH ALL IT’S WONDERFULL ADVERTISEMENT DO THAT TO UNSUSPECTED MEMBERS THEY HAVE NO SHAME ,I WOULS SAY TO ANYONE THAT IS THINKING OF BECOMING A MEMBER ON MATCH.COM DON’T IT IS A GHOST -TOWN IN THERE

  71. James Klima says:

    I think there are various practices these website use to increase conversion; I think they use third party affiliate to increase signups and they use fake profiles and other tools provided by these companies to increase conversion.

  72. Eric Niceguy says:

    There’s a slight difference between _fake_ profiles and what I call _stale_ profiles. A stale profile is one that was created by someone legitimately interested in using the web site, but is no longer active. This could be someone who signed up for a 3-day free trial and canceled, or it could be someone who paid for 6 months but got into a serious relationship after 3 weeks.

    Where I think Match.com, eHarmony, etc. have been deceptive is that they allow these stale profiles to remain in their system. Currently, match.com and eHarmony allow you to see when a person last logged in. Match.com shows, for example, “Online now” (for someone actually browsing the site) to “active over 3 weeks” (for the longest inactivity case). Pretty much anyone who’s not active over 3 weeks is a stale profile, and thus there is no hope of that person replying.

    These sites didn’t always provide this “profile freshness” information, and that is where I think they’ve cleaned up things a bit (probably as a result of law suits?). They should REMOVE STALE PROFILES altogether, but then their database would look terribly empty (or, in the case of eHarmony, you’d get few matches…)

    Free communication weekends, free 3-day trials, etc. are great ways for these companies to “generate” stale profiles. Not FAKE, but almost.

    In 4+ years of using online dating sites, I met face-to-face more than 50 women in the city where I live. I have a blog about it here: http://virtualcupidity.blogspot.ca/ After a year or two of using the sites, it was pretty easy to spot women who’re noncommittal about actually meeting. I only got “stood up” one time in almost 5 years.

    That person could have been using a fake profile on Match.com (it was in 2007). At the time, I later found out that the text in her profile was a copy from another member’s profile, and I thus “reported a concern”. What I don’t get in all these claims is how fake profiles are useful. In large population cities, there are lots of people who go online to date. I could understand fake profiles in a rural area, where the population is sparse and therefore harder to find a date. I remember first trying to use match.com 15 years ago when I lived in a city of roughly 40k people. There were about 3 matches for the criteria I gave (in the immediate area). I would have had to drive 1 hour to a nearby city to meet anyone interesting…

    As for fake photos, there are lots (but I think this is just people being insecure). If you see someone with only one photo and it’s off the charts attractive, put the URL of the photo into images.google.com (there’s a photo icon on that page that lets you specify the URL). It’s a great tool to spot fake photos! Here’s one on match.com right now: http://www.match.com/Profile/Show?Handle=debbiebrwneyes (photo of Ha Ji Won)

  73. Match.com also has among the highest quantity of fraudulent female “bait profiles.” These bait profiles do not represent real daters, and they are placed by someone working directly for, or on behalf of, Match.com for the sole purpose of making the site appear to contain many more young, fit, and beautiful women than is actually the case. These female bait profiles are used to both attract new male subscribers and keep existing male subscribers from cancelling their membership. Bait profiles can be difficult to spot for the rookie online dater. They often feature amateur modeling photos to lure the viewer, but unlike real women, these fakes don’t discriminate based on a man’s age, height, ethnicity, income, marital status, health, etc. For example, the bait profile will feature a gorgeous, 5’10”, 125 lb. 25-year old woman who, according to her fake profile, is looking for a man who is between 20 and 70 years old, and between 3′ and 7′ tall.

  74. Eric Niceguy says:

    @Steve: I saw a large number of those profiles 3-4 years ago on match, but the all got closed within a day (or hours) of me reporting them. I think they were scammers, and match was lax at shutting them down. At one point, I was able to find dozens by searching for women under 5 ‘ tall. My theory is that the scammers had an automated script to create profiles, and it’s algorithm for picking random heights was flawed.

    • @ Eric: There are different types of fake profiles. The scammers you’re talking about place their profiles and once you reply to them, they send you a cut and paste reply referring you to another site. However, the fake profiles I’m talking about are not interactive–they never communicate in any fashion!! They appear in bunches, virtually identical to one another except for the photos used, and they also appear as “new” profiles so they are at the top of the search results. The only logical explanation for the existence of such profiles is to make the site appear to have more hot women than is the case. Who benefits from such a ploy? Only Match.com.

  75. Eric Niceguy says:

    I met in person some very attractive women on match. I also find lots of profiles of average-looking women who have active profiles. In almost 5 years of using match, I never came to the conclusion that the inactive attractive profiles were bait profiles created to lure signups. However, I would suspect match has numbers on profile hits, and perhaps chooses not to purge stale profiles that generate hits. The result is the same: attractive profiles that never reply. On the other hand, some ppl are active and attractive and DO reply.

  76. Ive been on match for a while and thought i would be aggressive so i picked 100 women i considered within what i liked or found attractive. Now i read where some lady was mad about how guys pick hotties but what are we suppose to pic elephants and lepers?? We all pick what we are attracted to, so sorry if your offended its not about that its about finding your mate. Attraction plays a big part in that but i will agree it has to be within reason. So out of my list of 100 more than half were what i would consider so so or diamonds in the rough. So while there were some hotties there were more plain janes and common looking women. I received 1 reply and 1 not interested. Good or bad you would think with those odds i would have received more. At least 25 are now mysteriously no longer members and i contacted another 50 with the same result. I have found more fake profiles then people willing to just talk and im a very good looking man (not to toot my own horn). Its sad but all the pics i say that made me join the site are no longer members. On top of that i get an update with member they select for me that arent even in my search criteria. Why would you send me profiles of women that arent interested in meeting White guys???? I’m White, you would think that was important!! Then i get profiles of women from 18 to 27 when my search criteria clearly says 27 to 38 and in those profiles they are looking for men well younger than me. I’m 38 and i dont date older but still receive profiles of women in their 50’s. Its just sad and once my membership is up im done with match.

    • Sometimes men don’t realize that a woman is out of their league in looks. Maybe that happened to you. Dude, your probably not that good looking as you say you are. No offense. But I don’t think all those women that didn’t respond were all fake profiles. Too many.

      And you want younger women to go out with you? But you’re not open to women older than you? Maybe you’re a jack ***? My mom is 9 years older than dad and they’re still together after all these years.

      • Well still active on the site and what i have caught on to is that they allow temporary accounts for free and it seems people sign up for free use it to view profiles for a day or two then never go back and the free membership runs out but the account isn’t removed thus creating “fake profiles” As a paying member they should not waste my time by allowing free accounts by broke a$$ people to contact a serious paying account holder. As for the out of your league comment the only people out of your league are the headcases. With that mentality I could only guess you are alone. And manners!! Name calling shows your maturity level so really nice. Try listening, learning and conversing like a civilized person and stop with the league thing its so junior high.

  77. I have sent out over 50 emails in the last 3 weeks and have yet to receive a email back. Every time someone winks at me with in a day the profile is unavailable. I say fraud!

  78. Your article is good, but you’re missing one glaring omission. Nobody can register on match.com without a credit card. So, the people who are registering the fake profiles are most likely using stolen credit cards. Which means match.com puts revenue ahead of member security.

    And being a member of plenty of fish and okcupid (owned by match.com) I can tell you that I get significantly more fake profiles/scammers approaching me on match.

    • I should quantity – at least two a day on match.com. And people instant message me who do not have member profiles. I have plenty of screenshots to support these. How that happens? You tell me. Match.com has refused my request to see their member security policy, if they even have one.

  79. I’ve been on Match for about a year now and have been annoyed with the fakes. I always try to do my part and report them. I own an IT business that focuses a lot on computer crime and I think I’m getting much better at spotting the fake profiles. Like one person commented, you can usually tell when they have no preferences on age or “no preference” in the “Her Date” column. For me, that’s been a great indicator. Also, if you pay attention to the terrible broken English or the way they spell certain words such as humor being spelled humour, that’s another indicator. I’m not saying this is a perfect method for weeding out the fakes but it may help some. Oh yeah, another indicator is if they say seeking men 25-70 within 5,000 miles! That’s almost always a dead giveaway. I don’t think most quality women would care about a 50 year age difference or want their potential match to live several thousand miles away. This is just my opinion!
    These indicators may be obvious to most but maybe it will help a few guys out there! At least when I report these profiles to Match, they are usually removed within 24-48 hours.
    Most importantly…just use common sense!

  80. its all bullshit!! I was browsing match.com with a bs temp account just to see what they have to offer, and i spotted one of the finest looking females I went to high school with. I knew something wasn’t right, so I private messaged her on facebook to ask if she indeed made the account. She was horrified and shocked to realize some employees at match had created an account in her name and hijacked a dozen photos from her facebook account she had set to public. They (the crooks at match.com) just want to give you the impression that super attractive people are registered there, giving you false hopes only to register and send your e-mails into the bottomless abyss.

  81. Being Single and involved in the dating industry I have found it very interesting that whenever one of my subscriptions with Match or their subsidaries expires all of a sudden I am deluged with “notifications” of men interested in me. Normally, during subscription there are a few a week that may contact me but 15-20 every other day after subscription expires???? That is more than a little deceptive don’t you think?
    I have met some quality people on the site (ones I have done background checks on- that is my business) but the scammers are there too.They are easy to spot if you read enough profiles. Anyone who insists on only emailing or chatting and not want to talk live like on Skype or meet in person should be suspect as demonstrated on Nev Schulman’s MTV show “Catfish”. I think Nev is doing a great service investigating relationships for people. Caution should also be used with someone bombarding you with emails and phone calls, insisting on meeting too soon in the online dating process or picking you up for intitial dates. They are usually the predators.

  82. Sandy, are saying that Match sends out fake notifications? That is a different situation than scammers. People talk about these notifications but never have screenshots to back them up. Please take some and feel free to use the contact form to get in touch with me and share them. We do know that Match seems to increase your visibility near the end of your subscription. I see nothing wrong with that practice, they want you to stick around. But are these noticies auto-generated? Thats the question.

  83. So I am a member of match.com for 2 days now. I am receiving IM after IM, and they are all asking the same questions, pretty much in the same order. When I reply, they all have similar responses. Examples are: Them: “Hello, how are you?” Me: “I am well, thanks for asking. How are you?” Them: “I am fine. So what brings you to match?” And it goes on and on in just about every IM I get. It really is like they have chat bots instead of real women.

  84. onlined8er says:

    I’ve been using Match and most of the other ‘big’ sites for several years. I’ve seen many fake profiles come an go in that time but Match by far has the most ‘scam’ profiles pop up. Even more than the free sites like POF. It’s obvious that they’re not aggressively trying to stop them. How is it that on a free site like POF I rarely see fake or scam profiles but on a pay site like Match I run into them daily? I’m not only confident that stopping them isn’t a priority for Match but that they themselves are involved in the creation and maintainence of ‘fake’ profiles. There are several in my area that are ‘too good to be true’ that have been active for as long as I’ve been a member. They’ll even occasionally make some form of generic contact via ‘wink’ or ‘favorite’ but attempts at communication always go un-answered. Another thing these fake profiles have in common is the occasional change of information such as the city they live in. The pictures or actual text content of the profiles never change….they’ve been the same for years.

    But at the end of the day it’s a matter of common sense. If something seems to good to be true it probably is. Don’t be an idiot. If you’re not happy with a service…..tell them why and stop using it. Simple as that.

    • LIES POF HAS TENS OF THOUSANDS FAKE PROFILES. I HAVE CONTACT OVER 4 TO 5 HUNDRED WOMEN TO HAVE REPLYS FROM ABOUT 50 WOMEN. THOSE 50 35 OF THEM WERE SCAMMERS. THE REST WERE CRAZY OR SUPERFICIAL.

  85. Thank you for your article, it encouraged me to create a page to report online dating scams. I think i should have done that since a long time ago.

    http://zdatingcoach.com/report-an-online-dating-scam/

  86. I think match.com is a ripoff. The fake profiles are there and send you fake winks, likes, and anything to give you a sense of interaction. I have seen the same picture on many profiles. I don’t care if women are not interested in me but I don’t want to be scammed for my money. Why does the author of this article say all kind things about match.com like a cheerleader? Match.com has state of the art this and that crap. What an apologest! I stopped reading the article after that pandering crap. Match.com is a ripoff.

    • Robert, send me proof that you see the same photos in multiple profiles, otherwise it didn’t happen. Match does a great job with customer service. can’t argue that. In terms of fake profiles, people keep complaining, but I NEVER SEE ANY PROOF. People tend to vent here due to disappointment, often has little to do with the site in question.

      If you read other posts, you know I hold Match’s feed to the fire often, same goes for any other dating site, a client or not. Apologist, yeah right.

  87. So I was on match.com and found my friend’s boyfriend on the dating site. I told her and she accused him of cheating but he claims not having made the account and was never on the website. He looked into it and found dating sites (like match.com) create fake profiles and use fb or other social media to target people and create a fake dating profile of them. Is that true?

    • As I say over and over again to everyone, share proof or it didn’t happen. I don’t understand why people don’t take a screenshot. In 10 years, nobody has shown me that Match creates profiles. I’ve seen lots of proof on other sites though.

  88. Just so everyone is aware. Match.com 60% fake profiles.. HALF of those fake profiles are created BY Match.com. Match.com will use fake profiles to write emails and such to new subscribers and recently resigned subscribers to entice them to buy another month of service.

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