LOS ANGELES (CN) - Online cheating site Ashley Madison not only embarrassed people in a massive data leak, it cheated men by concealing that only 15 percent of its users were real women, a subscriber claims in a federal class action.
David Poyet sued Avid Life Media and Avid Life Dating dba Ashley Madison in Federal Court on Oct. 29.
More than 70,000 so-called women on the site were actually "fembots," Poyet says: bogus profiles of imaginary women supposedly interested in real men.
Ashley Madison made world headlines in July after hackers calling themselves the Impact Team swiped the personal information of the site's roughly 37 million subscribers, including passwords, financial information and people's sexual fantasies .
The hackers released enormous amounts of the information in a public data dump on Aug. 18 after Avid Life refused their demands to shut the site down. Names of thousands of U.S. government employees were among the subscribers, as were addresses connected to the United Nations and the Vatican.
Poyet claims the data breach also revealed that, contrary to the site's advertisements, only 15 percent of its users were women.
"Ashley Madison went to extreme measures to fraudulently lure in and profit from customers. Defendants' fraudulent and deceitful actions include, but are not limited to: marketing that the site had 5.5 million female profiles, when only a small percentage of the profiles belonged to actual women who used the site; hiring employees whose jobs were to create thousands of fake female profiles; and creating over 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages," the complaint states.
Since users are charged "credits" each time they communicate with someone else, Poyet says, he and other male users were paying to talk to robots more often than to real women.
Ashley Madison's computer code, which was revealed in the data dump, showed that the site had created "fembots" programmed to interact with male subscribers. Comments in the code include "host bot mother creates engagers; [and] birth has been given! let the engager find itself a man!" according to the complaint.
Poyet claims this "army of fembots" contacted male users more than 20 million times, reaping massive profits for Avid Life at the expense of the men who believed they were talking with human beings.
Had he known that most of the female profiles contacting him were fake, Poyet says, he never would have joined.
"In short, defendants did not only mislead in marketing and promoting the website, they purposefully induced members - like plaintiff and the class - to engage with the fake profiles by sending out the initial communication to members. This directly caused members to incur costs while believing it was an actual person communicating with them," the complaint states.
Avid Life did not return request for comment.
Poyet seeks class certification, an injunction banning Avid Life from using "undisclosed fake profiles" on its website, restitution, and punitive damages for fraud, unfair competition, false advertising, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.
He is represented by Brian Robbins with Robbins Arroyo of San Diego, who declined to comment.
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