The Federal Trade Commission filed its first lawsuit against an online dating site on Wednesday.
It accuses a British company, JDI Dating, with using fake messages and computer-generated profiles to trick people into upgrading to paid memberships.
JDI Dating operates 18 dating websites, including cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com. People who created their free profiles would receive messages that appeared to be from members who lived nearby and wanted to meet.
According to the FTC's complaint, these messages were almost always bogus. The only way users could respond to that email was to sign-up for a paid membership of $10 to $30 a month.
"Adding insult to injury, users were charged automatically to renew their subscriptions often without their consent," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
As part of its settlement with the government, JDI Dating has agreed to change its business practices and refund more than $616,000 to customers.
The company's lawyer tells NBC News, JDI Dating has not admitted any wrongdoing, but is pleased to reach a resolution of the allegations.