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Match Group subpoenaed by DOJ

Jason Schott

Match Group announced on Friday that the company has received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for documents relating to certain marketing-related claims in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) complaint from earlier this week.

In an SEC filing on Friday, Match said they “received a grand-jury subpoena from DOJ” on Thursday “for documents relating to certain of the marketing-related claims in the FTC’s complaint.”

The company, echoing their response to the FTC lawsuit on Wednesday, also said in the SEC filing, “Match Group believes that the FTC’s claims regarding Match.com’s practices, policies, and procedures are without merit and will defend vigorously against them.”

The FTC, in court documents, alleged that the owner of numerous dating sites including Tinder, OKCupid, and Plenty of Fish relied on “fake accounts created by fraudsters” to entice new users to Match.com to start paying for the service between 2013 and the middle of 2018.

The FTC complaint against Match asserted that “until mid-2018, Defendant sent consumers misleading advertisements that tout communications from persons Defendant identified as potentially fraudulent users of Match.com and led consumers to believe that the communications are from persons interested in establishing a dating relationship with them.”

The lawsuit also claims that Match “exposed consumers to the risk of fraud by providing recent subscribers access to communications that Defendant knew were likely to have been sent by persons engaging in fraud,” and that, until mid-2019, Match “guaranteed certain consumers a free six-month subscription renewal if they fail to ‘meet someone special’ but failed to disclose the requirements of its ‘guarantee’ adequately.”

On Wednesday, in response to the FTC lawsuit, Match said in a statement, “As we've previously disclosed in Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH)'s Annual Report, in March 2017, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") requested information and documents in connection with a civil investigation regarding certain business practices of Match.com.

“The FTC raised certain potential claims relating to Match.com's marketing, chargeback and online cancellation practices. The FTC's investigation pertains to the Match.com brand. In November 2018, the FTC offered to resolve its potential claims via a consent judgment mandating certain changes in the company's business practices, as well as a payment in the amount of $60 million. Discussions between Match Group and the FTC ensued but no resolution was reached. On August 7, 2019, the FTC voted to assert claims against the Company and referred the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ").”

Match also noted that “the DOJ opted not to pursue the civil case and referred it back to the FTC who then filed a lawsuit against us today making completely meritless allegations supported by consciously misleading figures.”

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