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Those who checked out the sites were offered a free membership, and once they created a profile, messages of interest that appeared to be from someone who lived nearby would show up.
To respond to the messages, the user would have to upgrade to a membership plan that costs - per month, the FTC said."The messages were almost always from fake, computer-generated profiles -- 'Virtual Cupids' -- created by the defendants, with photos and information designed to closely mimic the profiles of real people," the FTC said.
She is 5’6”, has never been married, and has long brown hair and blue eyes.
The operators were accused of making misrepresentations to consumers and violating the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act by not disclosing the terms of the subscriptions or allowing an easy way to stop the charges.
Under the settlement, in addition to the restitution, the site owners agreed to no longer use phony profiles without disclosing the practice and to be up-front regarding billing and cancellation policies.
These phony profiles and messages, the agency alleged, convinced many users to sign up for paid subscriptions.
Those who did, the FTC said, weren't told that the subscriptions would auto-renew until canceled.