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Social Networks The Almighty Buck The Courts Settles Lawsuit Over Phony Friends 127

Hugh Pickens writes "Techflash reports that has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to its users to settle a lawsuit that accused the social network of sending deceptive emails that made people believe their old friends from high school were reaching out to connect — only to discover, after paying for a membership, that their long-lost buddies were nowhere to be found. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asserted that Classmates had 'profited tremendously from their false or deceptive e-mail subject lines and related marketing tactics.' Under terms of the proposed settlement, members who upgraded to premium memberships after receiving one of the 'guestbook' emails will be able to choose either a $3 cash payout or a $2 credit toward the future purchase or renewal of a membership. is also among companies that have come under scrutiny for their use of 'post-transaction marketing' tactics — in which customers are given additional offers as part of the online payment process, sometimes in such a way that they aren't aware they're also signing up to pay more. A November 2009 US Senate Committee report said Classmates made more than $70 million through its relationship with post-transaction marketing firms. The Classmates Media unit posted $58.8 million in operating profit for 2009, up more than 24 percent from the previous year, making Classmates 'the most profitable social network in the world,' according to CEO Mark Goldston."
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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even if you love after they scammed you, why wouldn't you take the $3, apply $2 yourself to your renewal, and spend the other $1 on a hamburger or something.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If someone harms you, a very common way of pretending that you weren't harmed is to pretend you wanted it anyway. I suspect that many people who know they were ripped off will be life long subscribers in order to prove to themselves and others that they would have subscribed anyway.

      The $2 credit is more convenient. Losing $1 is just the tip of the iceberg.

      • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:05PM (#31473344) Journal

        And they're both so small amounts that in the end no one will care about it and probably needs to spend 0.5% of the amount they were asked to pay up.

        • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:36PM (#31473556)

          'cept the lawyers, who were probably on a % of max payout. Which is why we get a huge total amount, made of negligible individual payouts: lawyers win big, classmates pays nothing besides the lawyers.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:44AM (#31478462) Homepage

            Something is better than nothing, at least they are paying some kind of penalty. For example how much do you get back when someone goes to prison, hmm, nothing in fact you get a bill for keeping them there. Fraud is fraud though, paying back the money really isn't enough, those corporate executives responsible for the decision should be given the opportunity to spend a bit more of our money, the cost of the rehabilitative accommodations. They lied, cheated and stole, where are the punishments for them, they lock up shoplifters and pick pockets that steal a couple of dollars, these people steal millions and there is a civil suit, now that is just bullshit, especially as there is all this evidence floating around of their criminal activities, especially when false perceptions of profitability based upon criminal activities can be used to attract investors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thomst ( 1640045 )

      Er .. because they're stupid?

      This company is owned and run by Mark "NetZero" Goldston, after all. He's made a succession of fortunes from exploiting the gullibility of people who can't do simple math (i.e. - enormously oversubscribed dial-up service == browsing at the speed of a slug on drugs + you get auto-disconnected after an hour online), or, evidently, read. He's repeatedly made it clear that he's a slimeball of Steve Case proportions, so in what world would you expect to vary from the G

    • by carlzum ( 832868 )
      That's the problem with class action suits. These people spent about $10 to get in touch with old friends and didn't get what they paid for. Even if they wanted to pursue a full refund the terms of the settlement probably prevent it.

      I didn't see the details, but I suspect they have the option of taking the $3 or receiving the credit if they fail to respond. I'm sure most people will never see the letter or not bother to collect the three bucks. I received a similar settlement from BlockBuster a few years
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rekoil ( 168689 )

        Class action lawsuits are *never* for the benefit of the actual aggrieved parties. They're simply cash cows for tort lawyers. Bill Lerach actually got caught *paying* people to be plaintiffs in shareholder class action suits - he went to jail for that, but how many others didn't?

        • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Sunday March 14, 2010 @06:05PM (#31475190) Homepage
          Class action lawsuits are *never* for the benefit of the actual aggrieved parties. They're simply cash cows for tort lawyers. Bill Lerach actually got caught *paying* people to be plaintiffs in shareholder class action suits - he went to jail for that, but how many others didn't?

          Not true; "class actions" are simply lawsuits where one or more parties represents a class of persons because joining ALL those persons would be impractical. You can have class actions that have nothing to do with torts. And the idea that individual class members never benefit is just not so. I've seen class actions where individual class members received millions of dollars. It all comes down to what the nature of the underlying claim is, not whether it's a class action or not.
  • by sackvillian ( 1476885 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @01:59PM (#31473296) members who upgraded to premium memberships after receiving one of the 'guestbook' emails will be able to choose either a $3 cash payout or a $2 credit toward the future purchase or renewal of a membership.

    Huh? They're offering a cash payout or 33% less money that you can only spend on the site that scammed you?

    Better get working now on a decision-making chart if this applies to you.

    • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

      Well, who would go for the trouble of cashing out mere $3?

      • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:16PM (#31473418)

        Indeed. People have a strong psychological bias against doing something for a token reward such as this. Tests have shown that people would rather do a task for free than for a small amount of money. Working for free can be rationalized as being nice and doing a favor, but how can you rationalize doing something for $2? It just makes a person feel cheap and undervalued.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mistlefoot ( 636417 )
          A $3 cheque will cost you $4 in time and gas to cash. There is a bit of sarcasm in that comment, but there is some truth too.

          When google adsense first started, they made small payouts in some situations (year end or something, i can't quite remember). I was sent a cheque for $6.48.
          That cheque is tucked in a photo album somewhere. It was kind of cool getting that first cheque from google and, although I highly doubt the value will ever be greater then sentiment, who knows.

          Regardless. It's not a $6 that I
          • Usually checks expire after a certain time like 180 days, so eventually the check with be worth nothing other than sentiment, the thought that it could ever be worth more in the future is moot.
          • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

            Well yeah, if you specifically drive out to cash that $3 check it's stupid. Just hold onto it and deposit it in your bank on your next planned trip.

            • I only ever go to the bank when I'm about to go to on an overseas trip... except I didn't this last trip I went on. Hmmm... I think its been 5 years since I've been to a bank actually.

              WTF are you Americans doing going to the bank so often?

        • Welcome to marketing 101. You know those cash back offers that they use to sell products? Buy this computer/toaster/cappuccino maker at full price then send in this coupon to get X dollars back 3 months later? Guess what, a whole heap of people buy stuff for the offer then forget to send in the coupon or just end up not being bothered to. Marketeer's count on this and use this behaviour to profit from it.
      • Well, for a little over $3, you can get a cheap fast-food meal. That's lunch!

        • by Like2Byte ( 542992 ) <Like2Byte@yahoo.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Sunday March 14, 2010 @05:30PM (#31474810) Homepage

          Well, for a little over $3, you can get a cheap fast-food meal. That's lunch!

          CM.COM: "OK, so we tried to fraudulently obtain money from you by lieing our asses off about your buddy trying to contact you. Here's lunch. Better now?"
          Me: Shove that lunch up your ass!

          Why is it that Company X defrauds someone and they only have to pay back 33% of what they collected to the victim; but, if Joe Schmo does it he gets ~1yr jail time or some such judicial or civil penalty?

        • So there *is* such a thing as a free lunch!
    • It would seem that this is the sweet spot for any company. The list of people who can be milked like LOLcows forever. If I had a list of people who would fall for any trick and had money from some source it would be the most valuable list. It is also sleezy. A list of free thinkers that are not easily manipulated would be useless except as an exclusion.
      I have some sigs that you can buy if you upgrade to the premium sig store. All your friends already got one here. Have your credit card
    • Huh? They're offering a cash payout or 33% less money that you can only spend on the site that scammed you?

      Once in a while It'd be nice to see an Attorney General tell [corporation] to stuff their settlement offer and face the Jury.

      I can't imagine a Jury would think $2~$3 per person is a reasonable settlement.
      It doesn't even make the scammed individuals whole again.

      • Can you even get a jury trial in civil court?
        • by adwarf ( 1002867 )
          Yes, but I believe the defense has to request it (and pay for its cost if they lose).
        • by Uzuri ( 906298 )

          I was actually on a Jury that decided damages for a civil trial -- we didn't decide to begin with who deserved them, we just got to decide how much the already-decided wronged person actually got.

  • Not indescribably wacky: the settlement specifies that the court determines the final amount, with an upper limit of $1.3 million.

    Of course, members of the class still barely get enough to make it worth checking it out.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But don't worry, the lawyers will make a bundle. Hmm. I wonder why we have so many lawsuits against big companies.

      • by maxume ( 22995 )

        I think it is a good thing for there to be some incentive for the lawyers to take the case; 10% of the class award is not completely out of control.

        (In this case, Classmates could have avoided the suit by not misleading their customers, I'm not sure why you would feel any sympathy for them)

  • Classmates has notified me weekly of multiple sign-ins to my guest book for years, adding up to more guest book sign-ins than students in my graduating class. Apparently I had not realized how popular I was! Being a nerd led to a reluctance to socialize that saved me from this fraud.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And .. like most intelligent people .. you weren't fooled by it. So a bunch of stupid people who have no clue were taken in by a deceptive ad. I'll be that's the first time that ever happened. (Now .. where did I put those sarcasm tags...)

      I used to pay for a premium membership so I could send emails to former classmates. During that time, I connected with several friends that I had lost touch with and still regularly send emails. One of those high school friends I am married to now. It was worth it t
      • I haven't paid for a premium membership in years
        I've heard another of their scam-lite routines is to make it darn near impossible to unsubscribe. Did you have any trouble getting out?

        • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @11:04PM (#31477590)
          hehe .. I never have a problem.

          I have a Bank of America credit card I use for things like this. BofA lets you create a 'fake' credit card number that is tied to your card, but that you have absolute control over. I can cancel it at will, change the limits up to my card limits, and set the expiration date to any period up to my own credit card expiration date. The cool part is you can also extend them if you choose to, and they are tied to one and only one merchant.

          Whenever I buy anything online, I create a new number with a two month expiration date, and a limit that is $10 more than what the fee is. So next year, the card is no good and they have to come and ask me for a new card number.

          Works GREAT!!! I wish more credit card companies offered it.
    • Being devious allows non-paying members to circumvent communication restrictions and exploit the site without paying or violating TOS.

      I connected with the friends I wished to, and didn't send Classmates a dime. They'd have to break their site to stop this. :)

    • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
      I tried classmates for awhile when they offered a decent free service. But then they started to charge for access. I didn't like my school well enough in the first place.

      But I digress. Since they did start offering their site as a pay service I started getting their spam. I didn't realize they were slightly crooked about the spam. They seem like the of social networking... when google and yahoo started offering free email with loads of storage space and increased attachment size, juno reduce
    • by malp ( 108885 ) made sense when it came out in 95. It's been obsoleted by free alternatives such as facebook. I got the email from them and realized any classmates of mine were more likely to be on the free alternatives.

  • The Real Scam? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:02PM (#31473318)

    The legal system! What kind of justice is this? made $70million for being deceptive ($60million less this judgment) while getting a slap on the wrist, the lawyers get the bulk of the $10million, and what has changed? Nothing! Companies can continue to make profits, abuse customers and the public, and know that in the end all they will lose is just a tiny bit of the profit they made even if they break the law!

    • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:28PM (#31473510)
      It's social evolution. Only stupid people were taken in by the ads. Now, those stupid people have less money and their friends mock them, so they can't breed, except with other stupid people. Eventually their offspring will be so stupid even breeding won't be possible.

      In fact, they are so stupid that they'll think $3 is a great deal.

      Thank you for helping get rid of stupid people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Montezumaa ( 1674080 )

      This is the way capitalism and and open-and-free market works. If someone it selling a product, then you are free to purchase it. If the product is bad or does not work as promised, then you never use or purchase their product(s) again. Once enough people get the word out that a certain manufacturer or service company is not providing a proper product, then they end up losing their business because of lack of customer interest.

      It seems that is either providing a service that many people en

      • Re:The Real Scam? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:54PM (#31473696) Journal
        The efficient operations of free markets require good information to be available. The further you get from good information, symmetrically available, the further your results will get from any of the ideal free market outcomes. This (in addition to the fact that people generally dislike getting scammed) is why things like false advertising and lying on your SEC filings are illegal.

        Neither the economic theory of free markets, nor any of the historical examples of approximately free-market structures, support the notion that free markets will actually adequately control fraudulent actors. If you make some sufficiently optimistic assumptions about the speed with which "word of mouth" works vs. the speed of advertising, astroturf, sneaky rebranding of tarnished firms, etc. you can probably make the models say that it will work; but those assumptions are nonsense).

        Even in situations where selection does occur at the firm/brand level(if, for instance, were to falter due to their reputation for false advertising and general worthlessness) that helps you very much less than you might expect. Remember, the "rational actors" are not the firms themselves; but the people behind them. If I can extract enough money from my scam before its inevitable implosion, my scam's implosion will not dissuade me in the slightest from further scamming. Since these ownership relations tend to be quite obscure by the time you get to the consumer level(even the ones that aren't actively secretive can get very complex very fast, and virtually nobody has the cognitive resources to keep up with ownership structures for more than a tiny fraction of the firms they deal with in a day), it is eminently possible for bad actors to move from scam to scam for years, reaping substantial rewards.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In addition to the one above, there is a second main line of argument in favour of fraud investigation and enforcement being a state rather than market function: specialization of labour.

          It is abundantly obvious, in the majority of areas of activity, that specialization increases productivity and efficiency substantially. There are some niches where generalists are quite useful; but specialization and trade are(perhaps only second to fossil fuels) the reason why modern society is wealthy beyond the dream
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bmajik ( 96670 )

            I agree that specialization in fraud investigation is a good thing.

            However, why do you conclude that this must be undertaken by government actors? You posit that NGO fraud detectors exist and are a good thing, but conclude that free-riders make government answers preferable.

            When comparing government vs. non-government actors, the government connotation means just a few things:
            - the government acts coercively
            - the government tends to forbid competiting actors in that space
            - the government has few or dubious

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I think that your examples illustrate the fact that there is a spectrum(if not quite a continuum) from purely state to purely private actors. And, more specifically, there is no reason that something that is a state function cannot be accomplished in substantial part with private entities. As your examples demonstrate, the private sector is quite decent at coming up with standards for various things, and at doing various sorts of testing. Trying to replace them with a Federal Ministry of Testing would make
              • by bmajik ( 96670 )

                Thanks for the well written response.

                The Vitamins example is interesting for two reasons. One, I'm a proponent of eliminating the FDA. The FDA sends a number of Americans to their graves every year by preventing people from experimenting with untested protocols that they and their doctors might be willing to try, having exhausted other options. Milton Friedman gives the FDA case special attention in "Free to Choose", and I think it's a good point that I certainly don't do justice to here.

                For the benefit

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        This is the way capitalism and and open-and-free market works.

        Not really. If a company promises and charges you for one thing and then provides another you have every right to sue. It's really just a simple case of fraud. Not even the most ardent supporters of free market capitalism, in which group I count myself, would argue that there shouldn't be laws against fraud.
      • Re:The Real Scam? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @04:48PM (#31474450) Homepage

        This is the way capitalism and and open-and-free market works. If someone it selling a product, then you are free to purchase it. If the product is bad or does not work as promised, then you never use or purchase their product(s) again.

        Huh? Really? I was under the impression (in the UK atleast) that if somebody sells you something, then *that thing* is required to work as advertised.

        Why should anyone be able to sell you something fraudulently, even once? It's not government nannying, it's called consumer protection. Your argument doesn't scale anyway, if someone sells you a new car and doesn't include an engine, should you not be entitled to some recourse? Just because the value is smaller doesn't change the principle.

      • So let's say I tell you I will sell you a new flat-screen tv for $3000 and send me payment. But, instead of me sending a tv, I send you a piece of paper saying "Sucker." And you think this is okay because now you know not to do business with me again?

        I don't think that's how the free market is supposed to work.
        • C'mon, don't you remember the part of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, right after his discussion of the Pin Factory, where he discusses the P-p-p-powerbook [] as a paradigmatic example of free trade in action?
    • by Renraku ( 518261 )

      Because the lawyers aren't interested in running the company into the ground. They know that the more money they ask for, the more money will be spend by the defense on expensive lawyers, so it's better to grab the low hanging fruit of $10 million than it is to ask for all of the ill-gotten profits.

      Honestly, the judge should pass this on to criminal court once it gets out of civil court. "So,, it appears that you've been lying to customers to get their money. This is theft by deception at

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KiahZero ( 610862 )

      In what universe is 10% "the bulk?"

      Also, you have to remember that this is a settlement, not a court decision. A settlement, being a compromise between the plaintiffs and defendants, will naturally be less than what the full value of the judgment could be. Additionally, the lawyers would have gotten much more in fees had the case gone to trial, because trials in class actions can get very expensive very quickly.

  • Man, all of those transaction fees probably cost more than $2/user. What a waste of time - except for the lawyers involved! On the flip side, thankfully there are prosecutions of marketing and selling techniques such as these. Somewhere out there is a future of simpler, more secure and less scammy online transactions... somewhere... over the rainbow...
  • Why the hell wasn't a full refund the lowest option.
  • Is it just me? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Or are most of the better-known social networking sites run by scum? I can think of an exception or two, but they happen not to be profitable yet.

  • Similar experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnw ( 3725 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:15PM (#31473402)

    I've experienced something very similar with a genealogy site in the UK. I signed up to have a look (in the course of which I gave them my name, date of birth and town of birth) and a little later I received an e-mail saying that I was probably in someone else's family tree - all the details which I'd given matched, plus they'd added the hospital in which I was born. It's a sufficiently small hospital that there couldn't have been two people with the same name born there on precisely the same day. And yet I know my family tree very well and there's no way the person purporting to have me in her tree could actually be related.

    Sure enough, when I tried to get more details they wouldn't give any details unless I paid, and then after I'd searched a few times the purported relative disappeared from their hits.

    The extra information is exactly what they could have got from the register of births marriages and deaths. It was enough to make me cancel my whole subscription.

    • by W3bbo ( 727049 )
      Was it GenesReunited? I can't say I've had the same problems you described (but then, I never really put in any information about myself).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blue Stone ( 582566 )

      Please tell us which site this was. I have parents who are interested in the whole genealogy thing and would like to be able to warn them to steer clear of any scam sites.

  • I have been getting these emails for years, and I *always* knew it was a fake - I never logged on to actually see that it was a fake robot posting, because that would have been too depressing.

    I think probably everyone on this sight has enough experience with "popular" not to have fallen for this :-)

    If you did fall for it, well what a pathetic loser you are! :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John3 ( 85454 )

      I immediately thought of this Onion article, especially after I read about how profitable is. I can't believe people subscribe to this service when you have Facebook, MySpace, and even Google to assist in locating old classmates. There are Facebook groups for nearly every school imaginable, as well as groups for each graduating class, even groups within a graduating class. As funny as the article in The Onion is, it appears that the management knows plenty about Facebook and

  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bananaendian ( 928499 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:19PM (#31473438) Homepage Journal and other language learning websites run by Innovative Language Learning also practice similarly deceptive marketing.

    They offer a 'free trial', access for a month to their language learning website and then persuade you to give them your credit card details so that they can send you a 'free gift' (you only pay for the postage). However if you do this, you have just signed up to their subscription which will begin automatically charging your credit card and renewing your subscription every month ones the free trial is over. To opt-out you need to follow the websites instructions which tell you where to stop the renewal. However this only works after you have singed up again to one of their paid accounts, giving you access to the actual menu under which the opt-out is ... or you can just send their sales department an email and get the automatic subcription terminated.

    • *cough* AOL *cough*
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )

      They offer a 'free trial' (...) and then persuade you to give them your credit card details

      Stop. That's the only two facts you need to know: This is with 99% certainty some form of hidden subscription or renewal. Also here in Norway they can do the same with the cell phone. If they want your credit details and it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true.

      • Also here in Norway they can do the same with the cell phone.

        Are you saying that simply knowing your cell phone number and maybe your name is enough for a company to successfully bill someone for money in Norway?

        If so, that's fucked. I'm unhappy that I need to give my billing address and real name to make a purchase for 'virtual products' like web subscriptions if I want to pay with a credit card because I can't control what the merchant will do with that information, but going to something as public as your phone number instead of the semi-secret CC# is even worse.

        • Dunno about other places, but here in Sweden it's quite easy (maybe too easy) to have things not directly related to your mobile phone service billed to your mobile phone account.

          I've done this myself a couple of times when I've forgot my transport pass (or discovered that it just expired), needed to get someplace in a hurry, and got a one-trip ticket on the subway just by sending an SMS to the transport company.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Which is why one-time-use credit cards is nice. If they keep trying to charge against it, they get investigated for fraud from the CC company.

    • It's better to not deal with companies that need a CC for "free" trials; but if you screw up and get in a situation like this, just call your CC company, complain, and tell them to reject any charges from them. It's not like it's the power company and they can turn off your lights. They'll eventually just stop provisioning you with (service you don't need). Problem solved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cdrguru ( 88047 )

        Sorry, but the (I think 2006) credit card rules revisions do not allow the credit card company to cancel subscription billing. Nor can they cancel the card to stop the charges. The only way out is to get the company that is making them terminate the subscription billing.

        Subscription billing was introduced fairly recently and is an incredible revenue producer for companies. Many people will utterly ignore the charge month after month and keep getting whatever it is they subscribed to get. And there is no

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe ( 36238 )
          Sorry, but the (I think 2006) credit card rules revisions do not allow the credit card company to cancel subscription billing. Nor can they cancel the card to stop the charges. The only way out is to get the company that is making them terminate the subscription billing.

          This being the same company which asked for the card details as part of a standard one time transaction then used the same details for a "subscription"?
        • This is false. I have reversed subscription billing charges from one of those companies that run a store front through Yahoo. This included a backlog of 7 monthly payments.

          Always reverse charges, you make money for Visa, and the merchant pays a large fee.

    • To opt-out you need to follow the websites instructions which tell you where to stop the renewal.

      No. To opt out, you need to call your creditcard company and tell them to reverse ALL payments.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:28PM (#31473502)

    ... the next thing you are going to tell me is that all these hot girls in my neighborhood advertising on various web sites aren't real either. That would be a tragedy.

    After being stood up by a bunch of high school friends that never gave be the time of day when I was there, I was looking forward to some female companionship just to sooth my bruised ego.

  • Fraud? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:28PM (#31473508)

    Excuse me, but where are the punitive damages?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ffflala ( 793437 )

      The settlement also calls for to pay attorneys for the plaintiff up to $1.3 million in fees, with the court determining the actual amount. The lead plaintiffs in the case, Anthony Michaels and David Catapano, would each receive $2,500 as part of that provision.

      It's a settlement; these aren't damages and is admitting no wrong doing.

      What has happened here is that the two guys who bothered to bring suit against have been paid $2500 (and their attorney fees have been covered). Considering that it was a ~$10 fraud, that seems like relatively steep punitive damages in their case. Everybody else who was similarly deceived --but who didn't bother doing anything about it-- will get a whopping $3.

      I'm not saying these terms are fair, just that

      • Perhaps, but if all the bad company gets is a slap on the wrist, it remains profitable to defraud.

    • It sounds like they bribed the lawyers to make the suit go away. They just called it a 'settlement' to make it legal.
  • The chick with the big rack that's been go googling me according to the ads on my Facebook page...
  • There are many class action lawsuits that end up being complete BS like this one. The lawyers made a ton of money and the people scammed get $2. Not that classmates dot com deserves any sympathy whatsoever. IMO they should be forced out of business, because the only thing this will do is make them get even more "creative" with their advertising and spam.

    At the same time I haven't got a lot of sympathy by anyone taken in by the classmates scam. Darwin should be allowed to work his magic at some point. The fi

  • Still doing it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:48PM (#31473658)

    These lawsuits take months or years to grind through the courts and yet I had one of these pieces of spam just a couple of days ago from them. You'd think that they would at least stop the activity while they are being sued. But from the looks of it, they are going to pay the fine and continue doing it anyways as it's cheaper than stopping their illegal activity.

  • You scammed your users but part of accounting is to consider goodwill. Just like SCO, you are now in the negative.

    I can't wait for Google to enter that market and bankrupt you.

  • (Score:3, Funny)

    by DrFalkyn ( 102068 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @03:11PM (#31473824)

    Yeah, i think would do this. I remember tying to start a pickup soccer group a while back.. we had maybe a dozen people confirm a meeting, and then two showed up.

    • (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @04:11PM (#31474208) Homepage

      If you are accusing of having phony people RSVP to your event, I kind of doubt it. What purpose would it serve? You've already paid for the subscription before anyone signs up for your event, and having a bunch of fake sign-ups certainly isn't going to help encourage you to renew your subscription in the future since you'll know they are no-shows before your next payment is due (in sharp contrast to, where the fake stuff is used to grab your initial payment). I belong to several meetup groups, and I've never gotten the impression that the no-shows weren't real; they're just flaky people.

      • I think the hope was that if they had phony people sign up to the event, the group would become popular enough so that real people would start signing up as well. Kind of like if someone is holding a party, there are lots of people that aren't going to go unless there's enough people there, it becomes a catch-22. This was several years ago, maybe they don't do that anymore, I know people who haven't had positive experiences with meetup.

  • ...I've been a member of always have a payoff to the consumer members that reads like an advertisement to benefit the wrong doer? hell I've seen typical store coupons worth more than any of these class action suits were to give the members.

  • we didn't have such in school long before the internet was here.

  • One hopes that the lawyers are paid in Classmate credits, too.
  • Still waiting until someone sues JDate several times over for similar practices.
  • If they have so much money they made fraudulently, why don't they pay a meaningful penalty?
  • >The Classmates Media unit posted $58.8 million in operating profit for 2009,
    Funny how this correlates with the fact that I have recently received all these emails from them saying my old buddies had left me messages etc,...and wanted to talk to me, however close i came to joining, i didn't, and am glad now, cause i saw more of them on facebook then here...they should offer this for free and offer extra features for some profits, or turn to ad revenue completely to remain competitive to facebook.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"