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Online woes Fake dating profiles judged ‘unfair’ business practice

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Looking for love: SRF received several reports from listeners who had unknowingly fallen victim to  chat robots.

(Keystone)

Several web portals in Switzerland are luring customers with the prospect of sexual encounters using fake profiles. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has called this an “unfair” business practice but cannot act until the people affected come forward.

Swiss public television, SRF, reportedexternal link on Monday on the fake dating profiles, which appear on websites such as “The Casual Lounge” and “Lustradar”.

After the consumer programme aired, SRF received several reports from viewers who had unknowingly fallen victim to these chat robots.

Some of the websites even admitted to using these fake profiles in their general terms and conditions.

+ Read more about the online dating industry in Switzerland

+ When it comes to sex, Swiss "regrettent rien"

In response to these findings, SECO said that using such fake profiles to attract customers was an unfair business practice and the companies’ reference to it in their terms and conditions was not good enough.

Since customers in such cases received no service in return for their money, the contracts they entered into with the platforms might even become invalid, according to SECO.

Philippe Barman, the deputy head of legal affairs at SECO, told SRF that by using these chat robots, the web portals are violating the unfair competition act and are deceiving customers.

The legalities would need to be worked out in court, however, and SECO can only take the necessary business malpractice measures once customers file complaints, which has not happened so far.

The websites in question did not respond to requests from SRF.

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