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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005, 02:19 GMT
US dating agencies sued for fraud
By Guto Harri
BBC News, New York

Generic picture of two men surfing the web
Internet dating is increasingly popular
Two major online dating agencies are being sued for alleged fraud and malpractice in the United States.

Match.com has been accused of sending bogus emails to clients and using their own staff to attend some dates - the practice known as "date bait".

A separate lawsuit involves Yahoo's personal service.

Match.com denies the allegations but is not commenting on the pending litigation. Yahoo has not made any comment on its case.

'Fictitious' clients

Fifteen million people around the world have apparently sought companionship or love through Match.com.

They pay almost $30 (17) a month to be put in touch with potential partners and the whole dating industry in the US is now worth about $250m (146m) a year.

It is a competitive field in more ways than one.

A lawsuit recently filed in Los Angeles claims that Match.com's staff have turned up for dates with clients in order to keep them interested when no one else seems to be interested in them.

A separate lawsuit filed in San Jose accuses the online dating service of internet giant Yahoo of breach of contract, fraud and unfair trade practices.

It has been brought by a Florida man who accuses the company of posting profiles of fictitious potential clients on its website to give the impression, he says, that it has more single people on its books than is really the case.

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