If you've ever wondered about the veracity of claims from websites that a long-lost friend is desperate to get in touch with you if only you'd pony up the dough for a full membership, you'll be pleased to hear that you're not alone.
According to an article over on Ars Technica
, US-based school chum stalkathon Classmates.com has found itself the target of a class action lawsuit from disgruntled users who believe they were tricked into paying for a membership to get in touch with non-existent individuals.
Anthony Michaels filed the suit after paying for a full time membership in response to repeated e-mails claiming that long-lost friends were trying to get in touch with him via the Classmates.com website. After paying, however, Michaels was disappointed to find that he didn't have a single genuine message waiting for him – and all the visitors to his profile were complete strangers.
Accusing the United Online-owned company of intentional and negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and fraudulent concealment, Michaels argues that Classmates.com “intended to deceive, and did deceive Plaintiff and the Class by concealing and failing to disclose the fact that the individuals, members, and/or users who were making attempts to contact Plaintiff and the Class were not former classmates.
As well as seeking damages for himself and other members of the class, Michaels is hoping to get a ruling on whether the company's actions violate the California Business and Professions Code – a shrewd move that means even if the class is not granted damages the judge could still force the company to change its ways.
Do you believe that all
such “find a long-lost friend/relative/lover” sites are set up to scam people out of membership fees, or are there just a few bad apples spoiling the bunch? Share your thoughts over in the forums