The dating website Hookup.com comes along with a classy, unobtrusive design and advertises a free registration. Not much other information is provided on the starting page, like additional costs after the enrolment.
We are sure that the "free registration" is misleading information from the bogus operator from Cyprus, but nevertheless, we start the registration. Like on many other online dating portals it is a standard procedure and is done in about five minutes. After providing the specific information about age, location, mail address, gender and personal preferences, the newbie will end up in the main members’ area.
Once redirected, the new member will be confronted with a functional and easy interface with a discreet design.
There is nothing fancy here, just the usual features. The main part of the page is a massive preview of existing member profiles. And at the top are filters, alerts, messages, profiles settings, some search functions, and the links to live cams and adult games.
Minutes after the arrival, the scam starts. The new member can barely handle all the messages, texts and emails from hot females who are interested in a hookup. But caution is advised because paid moderators are hiding behind all these profiles. The women are faked and have the one and only goal to squeeze money out of the naïve members who are flattered and want to read and reply to all the hotties. To do this, an expensive upgrade of the membership is necessary, and here step the two-step rip-off begins. The premium membership is a subscription trap and has a monthly recurring renewal.
There are plenty of terrible reviews on the internet from people complaining about the scam. They report consistently about the moderated chat, automated messages, bots, and faked profiles in the members’ pool. Some of them were so furious about the recurring subscriptions that they hired advocates to sue the operator.
The operator is not even hiding the rip-offs and mention them in the terms and conditions:
"Automatic Renewals. IF YOU PAY FOR A MEMBERSHIP BY CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD (OR OTHER PAYMENT METHOD INVOLVING AN AUTOMATICALLY RENEWING MEMBERSHIP).”
"You understand and accept that our site, while built in the form of a personals service, is an entertainment service. All profiles are provided for the amusement and entertainment of our members and our users. You are not guaranteed that you will find a date, a companion, or an activity partner or meet any of our members in person.”
The fine print from the landing page:
“Online Cupids® which are fantasy profiles operated by the site for entertainment and compliance.”