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Online Dating Industry Rocked by Lawsuits

(November 22, 2005) Two of the largest online dating services, Match.com and Yahoo! Personals, are facing major lawsuits from daters who allege fraudulent behavior.

The first lawsuit, brought against Yahoo! Personals, alleges that the service has been padding its membership base with fake profiles. The second lawsuit, brought against Match.com, alleges that the online dating service hires employees to go out on dates with men.

“These are huge lawsuits seeking class action status,” says Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine (www.onlinedatingmagazine.com). “The lawsuits could be the first of many from daters who feel that their love life and wallets are being tampered with. However, it’s vitally important to remember that these are alleged and not proven fact.”

Tracy states that online dating services are courting trouble by allowing their own employees to use their online dating service. “Online dating services should ban their employees from being able to participate,” Tracy said on CNBC’s On The Money program last Friday. “That’s a conflict of interest. It’s not right.”

According to Kim Lance, associate publisher of Online Dating Magazine, online dating services that allow their employees to also use their service are setting themselves up for skepticism and causing a loss of trust among their members.

“In regards to these lawsuits, it’s important that users give Match.com and Yahoo! Personals the benefit of the doubt until something is actually proven,” says Lance. “But at the same time, these services could avoid potential lawsuits through honesty and integrity in how they conduct themselves. You give a perception of wrongdoing when you allow your own employees to use your service.”

Match.com is strongly denying the allegations against them, stating that it does not pay employees to date members and it will vigorously defend the lawsuit. Yahoo! Personals has yet to issue a statement in regards to the lawsuit it faces.

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