The online dating platform HookupInYourCity.com has over two million members. At least this is what the operator, Natural Motions Ltd, advertises on the landing page. New members can register here for free, but the free registration does not provide access to the main features of the site. To use these features, it is necessary to purchase a paid membership.
Interactions with bots
To entice new users to subscribe, the operator has a trick. New users will receive a lot of messages right after registering. These messages are highly erotic and invite the new users to continue the conversation. However, they are not sent by real people, as the operator uses “automated online accounts”. Users will not be aware that these messages are sent by bots and therefore we consider this to be a fake chat scam.
The evidence of this fake chat scam is in the terms and conditions. Although we know by experience that most users do not read these terms and conditions before registering on a website, as normally these terms are long and complex.
We found the following note in the terms and conditions
You may interact with content generated by, or with the assistance of, automated online accounts (“Bots” or “Automated Profiles”), where none – or substantially none – of the actions and posts of that Automated Profile are the result of, or arise in connection with, a natural person’s profile or otherwise User Content.
The free access trap
To entice new users to subscribe to a platform, some operators offer cheap trial memberships. Here, the operator goes further and offers a free membership to those who verify that they are over 18 years old. It may sound like a great deal, but is a dangerous subscription rip-off. With the excuse of verifying the user’s age, the operator asks to register with a credit card. Still, it is mentioned that age verification is completely free and that customers will not be charged.
However, under the “additional offers details” and written in very small font, we can read that this free membership will only last for one day. After that, the account will automatically upgrade to a full membership with a monthly cost of 39.95 USD. To avoid this, the user will need to cancel his account before the trial period expires. Something that seems to be very difficult to do, as the time to terminate the subscriptions is just 24 hours.