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Profiting off spam

The FTC filed suit against Match.com for using fake accounts to entice people into signing up for accounts. (WA Post) Part of the FTC’s allegations include that Match flagged the accounts and prevented them from contacting paying Match users while simultaneously allowing the users to contact free Match users.

Image of a courthouse.

I’m actually surprised the FTC took action. I’m not surprised Match allowed, and possibly even encouraged, fraudulent accounts to send mail to registered users. The revenue they were making from the fraud was significant, according to Match’s own numbers.

Hundreds of thousands of consumers subscribed to Match.com shortly after receiving a fraudulent communication. In fact, Defendant has consistently tracked how many subscribers these communications have generated, typically by measuring the number of consumers who subscribe to Match.com within 24 hours of receiving an advertisement that touts a fraudulent communication. From June 2016 to May 2018, for example, Defendant’s analysis found that consumers purchased 499,691 subscriptions within 24 hours of receiving an advertisement touting a fraudulent communication. FTC Complaint (.pdf)

What doesn’t surprise me is that Match didn’t stop the outbound abuse. There are a lot of technology companies that will protect their own users and their own networks, while continuing to profit off of abuse of other networks. I’ve repeatedly talked with companies having delivery problems and pointed out that the fraud was a likely part of the delivery problems. I’ve rarely found any company that cared about fraud that was making them money.

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