“Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t tell me that they saw my pictures posted on Match.com or another [website],” says Miami model Yuliana Avalos.
That’s not because Avalos is an online dating enthusiast — it’s because Match.com allegedly allowed more than 200 fake profiles to post Avalos’ pictures, according to the New York Post. Now, the part-time model is taking legal action.
Late last week, Avalos and an unspecified group of other plaintiffs who say their photos were used to make phony accounts filed a $1.5 billion class-action suit against Match.com’s parent company, IAC (InterActiveCorp), in Manhattan federal court, according to the Post.
Avalos told The New York Daily News these phony profiles allegedly led to tragedy for one Match.com user. Al Circelli, a 70-year-old Yonkers, N.Y., resident, was reportedly fooled by a fake profile that used Avalos’ modeling pictures. Apparently, “Aisha” told Circelli she needed him to send her money to Ghana.
Avalos said she was horrified when she discovered her face had played a role in the scam.
“The woman who he thought he was talking to was begging him for money and he finally went broke,” she told the Daily News. “He had to borrow money from his son. He went bankrupt. He lost everything. He was so ashamed that he killed himself.”
According to Avalos’ lawyer, these phony accounts are easily preventable with the right software, ABC News reports. The Post notes the plaintiffs are seeking a court to mandate Match.com monitor international IP addresses to prevent international users from creating domestic accounts.
A Match.com representative told The Huffington Post that, “The real scam here is this meritless lawsuit, which is filled with outlandish conspiracy theories and clumsy fabrications in lieu of factual or legal basis. We’re confident that our legal system is as adept as we are at detecting scammers and will dismiss this case in short order.”
The company was previously sued for allowing phony Match.com profiles. In 2011, a group of former Match.com users filed a class-action lawsuit in Dallas, alleging the site purposely misled users by allowing millions of fake or outdated profiles. The case was later dismissed, and a Dallas District Court decided that Match.com is not required to “police, vet, update website content.”