(CN) – A dating service in Wisconsin takes advantage of lonely area residents, pressuring them into thinking they need help with their love lives, and then swindling them out of thousands of dollars, the state claims in Milwaukee County Court.
Wisconsin claims that GE-Milwaukee and JRM Management, operating under the name Great Expectations, troll for prospective clients on area online dating sites. They then cold-call unsuspecting people, some of whom are on the state’s “Do Not Call” list, and lure them into meetings, where they’re pressured to sign up for the service, the complaint states.
At the meetings, which sometimes last for hours, salespeople get clients’ Social Security numbers and credit card information, which are used to run a quick credit check allowing them to “numerically rank the prospective members based on their ability to pay,” the lawsuit claims.
Great Expectations then charges different fees – up to thousands of dollars – based on what it thinks a client can pay, Wisconsin claims.
The defendants use individuals’ past relationship failures to manipulate them into thinking they need the dating assistance, the complaint says. They also use “high pressure, oppressive tactics,” including conducting meetings in small, windowless rooms and holding on to clients’ driver’s licenses and credit cards, according to the lawsuit. They’ve even charged potential clients’ credit cards without consent and then told them it was too late to cancel, the state claims.
Great Expectations’ salespeople will allegedly do anything to make a sale, including telling clients that their members have a squeaky clean past, when they “knowingly” offer memberships to people with criminal backgrounds.
The state says it’s not the first time Great Expectations has run afoul of the law. In 1991, the dating service’s previous owner struck an agreement with the state after being accused of similar violations, Wisconsin claims.
Great Expectations operates its dating service in 50 locations nationwide.
The lawsuit accuses the service of fraud, breach of contract, telemarketing violations, and “violations against elderly persons,” as it solicited people over age 62.
The state wants the court to fine the company and bar it from future illegal activity.