The definition of lawfulness involves compliance with the word and spirit of the law. In other words, purposeful schemes designed to mask or hide deceit are unlawful. Legitimate Russian dating sites are created to help people connect in a transparent and aboveboard environment. Setups of Russian marriage agencies asking to pay per message are purposefully designed to hinder transparency and create blocks, preventing users from being able to have a genuine connection, with the goal to extract more money as payment for pseudo-services.
Lawful web companies for singles facilitate genuine relationships
The service that lawful dating websites provide is the one of enabling an individual to develop an authentic affiliation, both in the online and then offline environment. This stated purpose of connecting single individuals who seek romantic involvement ought to be the sole reason why clients of dating ventures start communication.
However, in case of Russian marriage agencies working in PPL (pay per letter) mode, their primary goal is to generate content, for which clients are expected to pay. To be able to charge for messages continuously, PPL sites need to keep users within the system and prevent unmediated (free) contact outside the scheme.
Thus, the goal of PPL companies that advertise themselves as “dating sites” or “marriage agencies” does not fit the official description of creating relationships.
Correspondence between users becomes the essence of the service and pay-per-letter systems are built to maintain billable online exchange through chats and messages, rather than give users freedom of association.
Initially, PPL venues had to vigorously control conversations between participants in order to prevent them from swapping emails and talking to each other directly without paying fees to the website.
Bait and switch
The solution to the problem of email-swapping was found by pseudo-dating structures through replacing interested candidates with paid writers.
In this variant, the writer has zero interest in swapping numbers or emails because she has no intention of having a bona fide affair with a fervent admirer. Therefore, the letter-writing campaign can go on for months or even years under the guise of “building a relationship”, for as long as the duped customer keeps paying for letters and chats in hopes of attaining a partner. His interest is being maintained not only by direct statements of desire to have a long-term involvement of romantic nature (usually marriage) offered by the hired writer, but also by means of supplying photos that belong to an attractive female under the identity of whom the correspondence is developed.
In a great number of cases, the person in photos is not the same individual who maintains communication and makes written promises of marriage, which is a clear case of fraud. The same writer serves multiple paying customers, each of whom is promised love, affection and marriage at the same time, under the same online identity.
Clearly, such deception could be easily identified by a simple review of texts. Failure to do it specifies lack of due care and enables money-grabbing tactics by providers of content. Similarly, if a car manufacturer was aware of an internal engine defect but did nothing to fix it once and for all, the company would be liable under the consumer protection legislation.
Pseudo-dating “pay-per-message” websites became an analogue of phone sex services that charge per minute of sweet talk. However, the person dialling the phone sex line clearly understands what is on sale, while the client of a phony dating website is not aware what he is purchasing. This makes such transactions invalid, as the consumer is misled about the nature of the product he is procuring.
While the paying customer enters the online dialogue with a hope of finding a potential partner, which is what he is promised by the company in its advertisements, the client is being served by a paid provider—the fact he is not aware of and would not enter the contract if he knew. This is where the deception occurs and why such contracts are not lawful. The client is purposefully denied an essential piece of information that would change his perception of the service and willingness to make a purchase.
The pseudo-dating website deliberately hides the fact that providers are paid for generating the content (texts, emails, chats, photos, videos) dispersed to paying customers.
In fact, consumers are forced to pay both for the texts they write and receive from the writers. The longer the deception is ongoing, the more money the client spends in false hopes. Thus, he is not only wasting financial resources but also emotional and mental resources, as well as his time, which is impossible to get back.
Many clients of deceptive pseudo-dating companies are more devastated by the loss of years they could have spent building a relationship with a genuine person and mental efforts wasted in pursuing fake connections than the dollar amounts perished.
Instructions given to hired writers by employees make it obvious that such schemes are deliberately targeting vulnerable people with limited experience of romantic relationships, as well as low EQ and IQ. Hence, disabled people frequently fall victims of pseudo-dating operators, who are purposefully designing elaborate schemes to bypass legislative requirements by disclaiming liability for wrongdoings of their providers, based in third countries.
Victims of pseudo-dating websites experience shame and hurt similar to that of rape survivors.
Investigation into practices of paid communication schemes
A detailed report on methods used by pseudo-dating structures listing profiles of Russian brides was published 2 years ago by Elena Petrova. In the report, a wide range of Russian sources is used to demonstrate how exactly pay-per-letter companies organize their structures in order to avoid liability and appear lawful.
However, to be truly lawful, the service has to comply not only with the letter but also the spirit of the law. Any paid correspondence structure where fees per message are not optional and which does not encourage direct and unmediated connection between users, while a personal relationship is stated as the goal, is therefore unlawful.