Cupid staff did not use fake profiles to lure subscribers: review

July 1 Mon Jul 1, 2013 4:34am EDT

July 1 (Reuters) - British online dating company Cupid Plc said an independent review of its operations did not find any evidence of the company using fake profiles to boost its membership, sending its shares up as much as 10 percent.

The BBC said in February that members of Cupid's online dating services suspected fake "flirtatious" messages had been used to encourage free users to sign up for paid subscriptions.

Cupid, which operates the benaughty.com and flirt.com websites, on Monday said it is making changes to the structure and approach of its "motivation team" so that Cupid staff will be clearly identified when interacting with customers.

Shares in the company were up 6 percent at 77 pence at 0825 GMT on Monday on the London Stock Exchange. They have lost roughly two-thirds of their value so far this year.

The conclusion of the review is also expected to help the company in the sale of its casual dating business. Cupid had said last month that it had received several interests from potential buyers for its casual dating sites.

"People who are potential buyers in the business, and who may have seen risks around the practices should be reassured. That means the businesses are easier to sell and may get a higher price depending on individual negotiations," Peel Hunt analyst Stephen Yau told Reuters.

Cupid markets to people of different age groups, cultures and social interests, from its mature relationship website loveagain.com to its cheeky girlsdateforfree.com. (Reporting by Tasim Zahid in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)