Advertising on dating websites
The communications from Defendants’ Virtual Cupids are computer generated and are sent at specific intervals measured from the consumer’s date of enrollment.
The complaint stated that the only indication that a particular user is in fact a Virtual Cupid comes in the form of a small “v” encircled by a larger “C” in the top right portion of the profile.
The settlement also requires the defendants to pay 6,165 in redress.
“JDI Dating used fake profiles to make people think they were hearing from real love interests and to trick them into upgrading to paid memberships,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The terms and conditions page for addresses the dating site’s Virtual Cupid program, stating that the fake profiles are part of “an effort to promote broader user, member and/or subscriber activity and fuller participation…
“ The settlement is the agency’s first law enforcement action against an online dating service, and the second in which it cites a violation of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.
Some of the profiles on these dating websites are so-called “Virtual Cupids,” or fake, computer-generated profiles made to look like those of real people.
Consumers were not required to access this hyperlink as part of the enrollment process.
The Commission’s complaint charges JDI Dating and Thomas with violating the FTC Act by misrepresenting the source of the communications from fake profiles and by failing to disclose the automatic renewal terms.
“Adding insult to injury, users were charged automatically to renew their subscriptions – often without their consent.” According to a complaint filed by the FTC, JDI Dating and William Mark Thomas operate a worldwide dating service via 18 websites, including cupidswand.com, and
The defendants offered a free plan that allowed users to set up a profile with personal information and photos.