NEW YORK — Adult web model Melissa Midwest has joined a class action lawsuit against Match.com, claiming that the dating site allowed her copyrighted photos to be used on bogus profiles in order to boost its profits.
The class suit, first filed in November by Miami mainstream model Yuliana Avalos, has yet to be certified by the court, but is asking for $4.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages and a restraining order requiring Match.com to implement facial recognition software to screen for unauthorized use of class members' photos, as well as attorneys fees.
The suit, filed at New York federal court, accuses Match.com and affiliated sites of representing to subscribers that Midwest was and is a member of its websites, along with thousands of other models and others "who were never members of defendants' online dating websites."
"Melissa's fake profiles and those of the proposed class are the reason most people join or re-subscribe to Match's 25 dating sites and are accountable for the majority of time members spend on defendant's sites," the amended class suit said.
MelTech Inc., the owner of Midwest's copyrighted photographs, has received thousands of complaints from American romance scam victims over the past six-plus years, the suit said, further alleging that hundreds of victims were defrauded out of millions as a result of fake profiles on Match.com and defendants People Media websites.
"While Match masquerades as the premiere dating site network in the U.S., the reality is that the majority of profiles posted are fraudulent profiles created by Match and third parties, including the Yahoo Boys in Nigeria and Ghana," the suit said.
Midwest's suit alleges that other adult web stars may have fallen victims to Match.com's alleged practices.
The suit identifies fake profiles with accompanying images depicting Raven Riley, Lana Brooke, Cassandra aka Princess Blueyez, Megan QT, "Next Door" Nikki and Josie "Model, among others, on the site.
All told, the suit said, there are 1,084 fake profile usernames created on the site; 997 profiles have yet to be identified.