The Federal Trade Commission is suing the parent company behind dating sites Match.com, Tinder, PlentyOfFish and OKCupid for fraudulently enticing people to subscribe to its service.
The FTC says Match Group allowed consumers who had created a profile for the sites but had not yet subscribed to receive emails expressing interest that Match Group knew were likely from fake accounts.
The emails told the reader that someone was interested in their profile and allowed them access to a link that led them to a subscription page.
"We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers," said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Nearly 500,000 people subscribed to Match.com after receiving fake messages between June 2016 and May 2018, the FTC complaint said.
It also accused the company of making it hard for consumers to cancel their subscriptions or dispute charges.
Match Group disputed the FTC's charges.
"The FTC has misrepresented internal emails and relied on cherry-picked data to make outrageous claims," the company said.