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Dating website created fake profiles

22 Jul 2010 5:58 AM | Anonymous

The operator of dating website Red Hot Pie has been ordered by the federal court to disclose to its users that it operated 1,371 of its own profiles on the website.

The federal court found that Jetplace created fake profiles to send "flirts" and messages to users.

The court declared that Jetplace contravened the Trade Practices Act 1974 by engaging in misleading conduct and by representing that membership of the website had benefits that it did not have.

The court also declared that Jetplace directors Maxwell James McGuire and Mark Semaan were aware of the offending conduct.

Jetplace has been ordered to publish a corrective notice when each user of the website who registered between December 2004 and November 26, 2008 next logs on, and to send a copy of the notice to the email address of each user.

Users can also apply for refunds if they can demonstrate that they were misled by the conduct into paying for membership of the website.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel said the website operators had a legal responsibility to ensure the information they placed on the website was accurate.

"Had this conduct occurred after the introduction of the new Australian Consumer Law, it is likely the ACCC would have sought from the court civil pecuniary penalties," he said.

"Such penalties can be up to $1.1 million for companies and $220,000 for individuals."

Mr McGuire said the 1,371 profiles were created over a four-year period for the User Security Suite and only "a small number" of those profiles were active at any given time.

"This part of the Red Hot Pie User Security Suite was voluntarily deactivated in November 2008 following the identification of the ACCC's concerns," he said.

"This part of the site's User Security Suite would have been of minimal inconvenience to bona fide members of the site, and most will not have been aware of its existence or its passing."

Source:  http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/dating-website-created-fake-profiles-20100722-10mcb.html


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