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The Match Game

By Annie Gausn | Aug. 2, 2006

Law Office Management

Aug. 2, 2006

The Match Game

The dangers of internet dating.

By Malaika Costello-Dougherty
      As if dating weren't difficult enough, recent lawsuits allege that popular online-dating services and Yahoo Personals use fraudulent practices-such as creating false profiles-to attract and retain subscribers.
      "Online dating is very personal, and members are very vulnerable," says Mike Arias, managing partner at Arias, Ozzello & Gignac, who represents the plaintiffs in a suit he hopes to get certified as a class action against (Evans v. IAC/Interactive Corp., No. SACV05-1104CJC.) In his complaint, Arias alleges the company committed fraud, engaged in deceptive business practices, and violated privacy rights.
      Matthew Evans, the lead plaintiff in the case, claims that on a date with a woman named Autumn Marzec, she told him she worked for as part of a "date bait" secret team based in Los Angeles that was paid to go on dates with members. denies the allegations. In fact, the company's attorney, Robert Platt of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, says never sent employees on dates and that Marzec, in a signed declaration, swore she was never employed by to go on dates.
      "Basically, some guy went out with some girl and wasn't happy, that's what it is," says Marc E. Lernick, who organizes conferences for the online-dating industry. He believes the suit doesn't stand a chance.
      In an associated class action against, lead plaintiff Robert Anthony-Rodriguez accuses the company of creating false subscriber profiles to attract more business. In fact, the complaint describes instances in which identical profiles were applied to multiple images.
      A suit almost identical to those against has been filed against Yahoo. (Anthony v. Yahoo Inc., No. C05 04175 RMW.)
      "My hope is that this litigation and others will clean up the industry," says Arias. "Then users will know their personal lives are protected, and the people they are dealing with are truly who they represent themselves to be."

Annie Gausn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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