Use Of Porn Star Pics In ‘Romance Fraud’ Dating Profiles Fails To Support Trademark / False Ad Claims

Nov 22, 2014
Internet
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melissa midwest

The plaintiff in Avalos v. IAC/Interactive Corp. called it “one of the biggest conspiracies ever executed on the internet” — the unauthorized use of images of adult film stars in fake online dating profiles. But in an opinion issued October 30, 2014, Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York held that trademark law was not the right way to go about solving this problem. The complaint was dismissed in its entirety.

The Romance Fraud Scam

According to the complaint, con artists such as the Nigerian “Yahoo Boys” misappropriate online images of webcam models and adult film stars (with their clothes on, for the most part) in order to create fake profiles on internet dating sites. These fake profiles lure unsuspecting internet daters into ‘Romance Fraud‘ scams, which involve establishing a fake online relationship and then asking for money. The FBI estimates that the average victim loses between $15,000-$20,000 in these scams.

Meanwhile, the complaint alleges, the dating sites look the other way. Why? Because — let’s face it — models and porn stars are just a bit better looking than the rest of us. Having their images associated with the sites allegedly drives up membership and therefore increases profits. In fact, the complaint asserts, some dating sites actively promote and advertise what they know or suspect to be fake – but very attractive – profiles.

melissa midwest

Melissa Midwest’s Claims

The initial complaint was filed in late 2013 against IAC (the parent company of Match.com and other popular dating sites) by internet model Yuliana Avalos, on behalf of herself and “all individuals” whose likenesses had been used without permission in fake dating profiles. In early 2014, the complaint was amended to substitute as plaintiffs the adult film actress Melissa Harrington (aka Melissa Midwest), whose photos appear in many fake profiles, and Meltech, Inc., the company that owned the rights to those photos.  The complaint alleged trademark infringement, copyright infringement and various other counts.

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Use Of Porn Star Pics In Romance Fraud Dating Profiles Fails To Support Trademark And False Ad Claims | Todays Porn News
5 years ago

[…] According to the complaint, con artists such as the Nigerian “Yahoo Boys” misappropriate online images of webcam models and adult …read more […]

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[…] Meanwhile, the complaint alleges, the dating sites look the other way. Why? Because — let’s face it — models and porn stars are just a bit better looking than the rest of us. Having their images associated with the sites allegedly drives up …read more       […]

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