Report: #118795

Complaint Review: Andrew Conru, Friend Finder Network, Alt.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, Passion.com, Xmatch.com - Palo Alto California

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  • Reported By: San Francisco California
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  • Andrew Conru, Friend Finder Network, Alt.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, Passion.com, Xmatch.com 445 Sherman Ave, Suite C Palo Alto, California U.S.A.

Andrew Conru, Friend Finder Network, Alt.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, Passion.com, Xmatch.com, Conru Andrew Conru, Friend Finder, Spam, Fraud, Deception, Con Artists, Illegal Persistent Spammers Palo Alto California

*Consumer Suggestion: Issues should be addressed indidually

*UPDATE Employee: Response to Posting from Friendfinder, Inc.

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Until sometime this year, I was an employee of the Friend Finder Network. I unfortunately had to work there because I was unable to find alternate employment for comparable compensation in my area. I found their business practices to be illegal and immoral and I am so happy to have disassociated myself with them. Here is the inside information into how the network works:

1. Andrew Conru established the Friend Finder Network based on spam, lies, and deceptive business practices in 1996 on cheap computers and even cheaper programs.
2. Andrew Conru was the first person to be charged under California State anti-spam laws. He privately considers this some sort of badge of honor.

3. Andrew Conru refuses to remove profiles and photos of individuals regardless of how old or stale they become. Some profiles on his website represent individuals who have died several years ago. Profiles on his websites can be as old as eight (8) years old!

4. Andrew Conru uses employees to send out illegal and deceptive unsolicited commercial email (SPAM) to lure unsuspected consumers to his websites.

5. Andrew Conru deliberately makes his websites to seem like they have many more profiles than they actually do. The number of profiles listed in his profile pages do not accurately represent what is found in his database.
6. Andrew Conru uses computer code and employees to make his sites appear to be much more active and interesting than they really are. For example, you'll find his chat rooms will play old archives of chat conversations that are not actually occurring in real time. You'll also find yourself receiving email from profiles that are not real people. The use of Bots is a core principal that drives his business.

7. After being charged and investigated several times for Spam violations, Andrew Conru now engages the services of an off-shore (Taiwan) organization to send out massive amounts of illegal and deceptive unsolicited commercial email (SPAM). Andrew Conru believes that this exempts him from being in violation o US Law, and has made that point very clear to many of his employees. In actuality, this activity does not exempt him from violation and he is still breaking the law.

8. Andrew Conru deliberately and knowingly does not scrub his list of people who ask to be removed from future mailings (almost non of his emails even have a way to do so) or known minors. According to Andrew Conru, children have access to their parents credit cards too.

9. Andrew Conru owns hundreds if not thousands of domain names that are deceptively registered for the sole purpose of spamming the search engines and providing locations to target his illegal and deceptive spam so that he can deny ownership of and blame others for.
10. Andrew Conru has caused many of his partners and affiliates to undergo painstaking and sometimes devastating investigations of spam violations by various courts, ISP's, and government authorities only to divert attention away from his illegal spam operation.

11. Andrew Conru uses a complex web of various online billing processors, offshore merchant banks, and third party payment processors to enable him to illegally make unauthorized charges against previous customer's credit cards. Andrew Conru knowingly relies on the fact that a very small percentage of these consumers will ever recognize his ambiguous payment monikers that show up on their credit card statements. Andrew Conru makes these charges relatively low (between $20 to $25) to ensure that the charges remain under their radar.

12. Andrew Conru has been denied the ability to process credit cards from several merchant banks in the past due to violations of regulations or excessively high consumer charge back rates forcing him to use third party processors and offshore banks.

13. Andrew Conru once had an excellent Network Operation Center (NOC) team working for his company until they were all forced to resign due to the fact that they were unable to tolerate being part of such a deceptive, misleading, immoral, corrupt company. When Andrew Conru was faced with their suggestions to change his deceptive business practices, they were all forced to resign through being reassigned to meaningless positions with associated cuts in compensation.

14. Andrew Conru takes deliberate and vengeful actions against former employees that are vocal about his business operations and makes them sign unacceptable confidentiality agreements.

I applaud the RipOffReport and all of the people who have posted honest concerns about this appalling, unpardonable, and awful criminal organization. My only hope is that one day Andrew Conru is thoroughly investigated and forced to pay for his crimes against society.

I should note that all of these points are based only upon information and belief and not based on fact. These point can easily be proven if a simple investigation was done through definitively answering the following questions:

1. Does Andrew Conru employ a foreign organization and if so, what are they tasked to do?

2. How many merchant accounts, payment processors, and billing providers are used by the entire Friend Finder Network? What are their charge back rates, complaint rates, and billing monikers? How many have they used in the past and why were they terminated? How many of them are offshore?

3. How many domain names have been paid for directly by Andrew Conru or the Friend Finder Network? How many of them have been blacklisted? How many of them are properly registered with the appropriate and accurate registration information?

4. How old are the profiles on his sites? Do any programs exist to deceptive make his websites seem more interesting and active than they actually are? Are the amount of profiles he claims to have in each state accurate?

San Francisco, California

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/19/2004 02:51 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/andrew-conru-friend-finder-network-altcom-adultfriendfindercom-passioncom-xmatchcom/palo-alto-california-94306-1828/andrew-conru-friend-finder-network-altcom-adultfriendfindercom-passioncom-xmatchc-118795. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Issues should be addressed indidually

AUTHOR: Liz - (U.S.A.)

POSTED: Thursday, December 30, 2004

I have never posted on the RipOffReport before, but have been a long time user of this service. My wife has also made a small donation. But, other than that, I am in no way associated with RipOffReport or FriendFinder. I have been following the posts about FriendFinder and find it irritating that a person with the financial position, allegedly acquired as ill-gotten gains at the price of consumers, can hire an attorney that will make a post (all but threatening a defamation law suit) and expect anyone voicing concerns to simply go away. I am in no way saying that this is what is happening in this case. But, I have looked into some of the allegations made on this service and have found some of them to be true. In fact, aside from President Busch (should be Bush) signing the canspam act into law, I have not been able to prove any of the allegations to be false, but many are highly suspect.

With all do respect Mr. Bloom, and in the honest intent of getting to the truth, I think it may be in the best interest of your client as well as the consumers that look toward this forum for advice on a daily basis, to respond to the individual allegations made on this board rather than categorically denying some that may be true.

My analysis is included after the original allegations below.

FACT Andrew Conru is the founder of the criminal network known as FriendFinder located in Palo Alto California.

(I have found that Andrew Conru is the Founder of Friend Finder Network and it is indeed located in Palo Alto California as well as St. Kitts as reported on the company's website)

FACT Andrew Conru and his 200 employees successfully send millions of illegal pornographic spam emails soliciting innocent children to join his pornographic websites each and every day.

(I have found that there are about 120 employees working for FriendFinder as reported on the company's website. I have found hundreds of Spam complaints made daily by doing a search on FriendFinder's various sites on Google Groups. I am unsure if hundreds of actual complaints for a couple dozens sites translates into millions of emails but it does certainly seem possible. I find it unlikely that all of these emails target children, but I also find it unlikely that none of them reach children. It seems like many of these emails are related in some way to pornography, but not all of them)

FACT These deceptive emails never show any evidence to the recipient that they are an advertisement, solicitation, or contain pornographic or sexually explicit materials.

(In a relatively small sample of the email complaints I have looked at, this does indeed seem to be true for the majority. With the large volume of spam emails that seem to advertise the company's various sites, I doubt NONE of them show any such evidence)

FACT In 2003, George W. Busch signed the Controlling Assault of Non-Solicited Pornographic Marketing (CAN-SPAM) which expressly prohibits these activities. Since January 1, 2004; Andrew Conru and his Affiliates have been violating this law.

(There was indeed a law signed by President Bush (not Busch) on January 1. Based on the high volume of spam complaints that is publicly verifiable through Google Groups, their does definitely seem to be some law violations.)

FACT It has been estimated that Andrew Conru and his illegal and deceptive Friend Finder criminal network is responsible for over 55% of all Spam send over the Internet today.

(I have never seen such a statement made from a credible source and seems highly unlikely that this is the case)

FACT Once a person attempts to opt-out of any of the FriendFinder Network emails, Andrew Conru is notified that the email address is indeed valid and continues to send more pornographic email. He also is known to sell these addresses to the highest bidder.

(There are several people I know of that have been consistently unable to remove themselves from spam emails from this company. There is no public evidence that address lists has ever been sold. However, based on my purely amateur review of the company's privacy statement, they do reserve the right to use the email addresses to advertise on behalf of other companies.)

FACT Andrew Conru was one of the first people every charged with sending mass amounts of Spam and was tried in a California court (Ferguson v. Freindfinders, Inc., San Francisco County Superior Court No. 307309, 2000)

(not disputed)

FACT Andrew Conru continues to operate above the law because his deceptive business practices allow him to rake in so much cash that he is able to (1) hide behind sophisticated technology (2) pay high taxes in California where he is well protected (3) move some of his operations offshore (St. Kitts)

(While it does seem to have operations established in St. Kitts, there is an array of legitimate reasons why a business would want to do that. Other than that, this statement seems to be based on speculation and not fact.)

FACT Andrew Conru has some 25 30 Customer Service Representatives that do nothing but act as Shills on his deceptive criminal websites to lure unsuspecting consumers into joining and paying his high membership rates.

(Based on complaints made on this site and others, it seems like the company's website's user's experiences have led several of them to come to this same conclusion. Again, this seems to be based more on speculation than fact)

FACT Once a consumers credit card is entered into one of Andrew Conru's criminal websites, he then uses that same credit card to bill for other websites in his criminal network, even if the person has never visited that website.

(I have read complaints from others making the same allegation. There is no way to verify this except for testing it and I do not personally have the financial means to take that kind of a risk)

FACT Most of the women's photos on any of Andrew Conru's websites are porn stars and have never been to his websites. Andrew Conru is illegally using the photos without their consent to deceptive lure members of the public into his illegal credit card scam.

(A quick scan of women listed in the state of Texas and New York revealed two photos of celebrities and three photos of porn stars. However, when thought of logically, these photos could have been posted by subscribers to his site that did not want to post their own photos but wanted one posted.)

FACT Andrew Conru makes it almost impossible to cancel a subscription to any of his websites because once you cancel one, two or three charges for other ones will show up on your card the next month.

(I have read complaints from others making the same allegation. There is no way to verify this except for testing it and I do not personally have the financial means to take that kind of a risk)

FACT Andrew Conru makes over $150,000,000 ($150 Million Dollars) a year off of his illegal and deceptive criminal network but only reports a small portion (less than half) of this to the Internal Revenue Service.

(I find this statement to be highly suspect. I have more trust in the IRS than this.)

FACT Most of Andrew Conru's employees have very little idea of the kind of scam they are working for.

(If his operation is indeed a scam, it is unlikely all of his employees are aware of it. Unless it is some kind of bizarre cult of some kind)

FACT Despite Andrew Conru making over $150 Million, he cuts his employees bonuses and has them work in sweat shop conditions.

(Again, anyone running a successful business has typically already learned to treat his/her employees well. I find this statement to be highly suspect as well)

FACT Andrew Conru believes that he operates above any laws and that none of this will even catch up with him.

(One cannot know or verify how another person feels or what they believe)

It seems like the above post, while containing a mix of facts, truths, assertions, and speculations, was probably made by a disgruntled employee. While this company has every right to respond to these allegations and clear their name, I pray that they do it in a manner that will answer the consumer questions that the allegations have raised and not just insult them with a categorical denial that is clearly untrue.

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#1 UPDATE Employee

Response to Posting from Friendfinder, Inc.

AUTHOR: David - (U.S.A.)

POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2004

To ripoffreport.com readers:

During the latter half of November 2004, certain disgruntled individuals have repeatedly posted anti-Friendfinder reviews on ripoffreport.com. In this series of postings, these individuals have made a series of statements and listed a number of purported facts about Friendfinder and Andrew Conru alleging criminal behavior and unlawful business practices. With the exception of certain information that is publicly available, e.g. a civil lawsuit entitled Ferguson v. Friendfinder was filed (and ultimately dismissed without any finding of liability), these alleged facts are false and defamatory. These postings are beyond contempt and hurtful to Friendfinder, Andrew Conru and its employees. These comments also tend to marginalize valid reviews that other persons have posted on ripoffreport.com regarding our company.

To any open-minded person reading reviews posted on ripoffreport.com: Friendfinder, Inc. currently has millions of members enjoying our online personals services. We have over 150 dedicated employees who strive to create a rich online experience for our customers. Despite any efforts we make, we know we can do even better. As with any company with so many customers, we have complaints about our service. Normally, our customer service department resolves these complaints (and other issues) in a timely and satisfactory manner. If you are a customer who has a complaint or otherwise has an issue with your service, I invite you to call our customer service department at (650) 847-3100 or email them. (Contact information is posted on the individual websites.)

As for comments about spamming originating from Friendfinder, please understand that our affiliate agreement prohibits the sending of any unsolicited email on our behalf. Moreover, Friendfinder does not send unsolicited emails. If you feel that you are the recipient of an unsolicited email, please forward it to me at legal@friendfinderinc.com so I can investigate and take the appropriate action.

Lastly, if you feel that you were treated unfairly and want to express your concerns about Friendfinder, I invite you to call me directly at (650) 847-3120 or our Director of Human Resources, Natalie Cedeno, at (650) 847-3176.


David Bloom

General Counsel

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