Cupid, which had a revenue of £81million last year, maintained that the communications with profiles set up by the programme had been genuine, and explained that subscribers may receive fewer messages as “we promote them less broadly on the website to focus their attention on key messages".Usdate owner Edgars Apalais denies selling information that is fake or passed on without the consent of those concerned.Tainted Love: Secrets of Online Dating will be shown tonight at 8.30pm on BBC One..
On a false test profile set up by the documentary makers for “James”, 46, from Glasgow, received nearly 500 messages in two months.
One perfect match was “Kazb”, who was using a photograph of Karen Bartke, an actress appearing in several prime-time dramas, including Monarch of the Glen.
Although she has tried online dating, Miss Bartke said she never used Cupid's website, adding: “It's done purely to take money from that person who's in a vulnerable situation already because it takes a bit of guts to be, to be open and say here is who I am, are you interested in me?
' “I really object to someone taking advantage with people like that, using my photo." Another profile on the site, claiming to belong to a woman from Glasgow, was using an old photograph of Michelle Pfeiffer.
Other lonely hearts complained that they were inundated with messages, then when they paid the subscription fee to reply interest in their profile dried up completely.
John Isaacs, who spent £4,000 on dating sites looking for love after his divorce, said: "All of a sudden, the number of hits that I experienced just dissolved.And then, you know, as soon as your subscription lapsed then hey-ho all of these people suddenly re-appeared again, like mushrooms." Simon Entwisle, Director of Operations as the Information Commissioner's Office, said he was concerned that it appeared it was being “done as a matter of course”.The dating sites say any fake profiles have been set up by scammers, which they claim is an industry wide issue which they were working to combat.Pictures, names, email addresses, dates of birth and detail of the sexual orientation of unsuspecting members of the public are being purchased by dating websites to create false profiles of attractive people, it has been claimed.Panorama purchased the data of 10,000 people from Usdate – a company which sells profiles to sites - and found it included photographs of Brad Pitt, Michael Caine and Rick Stein.Some of the contact details were genuine, including the email addresses of academics, a House of Lords life peer and BBC employees, all of whom said they had never used a dating website.