MADISON (WITI) — The Wisconsin Attorney General’s office announced on Tuesday, November 19th that it has reached a $500,000 settlement with a dating service whose Milwaukee office has been closed for years. The agreement comes years after a FOX6 hidden camera investigation exposed the company’s high-pressure sales tactics.
For years, Great Expectations operated out of an office building near Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. Our investigation caught the dating service’s sales reps misleading potential customers and pressuring them to sign multi-year contracts for thousands of dollars on the spot. The manager of the Wauwatosa center temporarily refused to give one customer’s drivers license back until he signed a contract.
After our investigation in 2008, the Wisconsin Department of Justice launched its own investigation, leading to a 2009 lawsuit against Texas-based dating membership company, JRM Management, LLC, and its Wisconsin affiliate, Great Expectations Milwaukee.
Four years later, the state has finally reached a settlement with that requires GE-Milwaukee, LLC and JRM Management, LLC to pay $500,000 to resolve allegations that they misled consumers into signing up and paying for dating service contracts.
According to the complaint in this case, Great Expectations used websites that appeared to connect singles in particular Milwaukee area communities, such as milwaukeesingles.com, brookfieldsingles.com, and shorewoodsingles.org. The complaint alleged the websites did not indicate any connection with Great Expectations, but consumers who completed online surveys then were called by Great Expectations telemarketers.
The complaint also alleged that in the course of selling dating services, Great Expectations made numerous misrepresentations, including: overstating the number of Great Expectations’ participating members, including representations like the number of Milwaukee-area members; overstating the number of members in particular age ranges or other categories; misrepresenting that Great Expectations conducts criminal background checks and screens out prospective members with criminal histories; misrepresenting the purpose for obtaining prospective members’ credit information; and misrepresenting that a professional photographer would take the members’ photographs and videos.
Great Expectations Milwaukee closed its doors in the fall 2009.