Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS) – New research shows in the last eight years, one third of all marriages began with online dating. However, the I-Team found one site has left several local women lonely and broke.
Tracey Benscotter of Raynham is one of those members. A divorced mother of three, she decided she was finally ready for a relationship. “I wanted to get out there and date again, but I wanted it to be certain people of a shared faith of mine,” she explained.
She chose a site that’s been around for years and claims to be the number one matchmaking service. It’s called Elove.com. In a lengthy meeting with an Elove consultant, Tracey says she was promised high-quality singles and a database filled with members who match her criteria.
Carla Beck-Hansen, a widow from Merrimack, New Hampshire also contacted Elove to find someone to share her love of travel.
Both women say Elove consultants convinced them the service was worth the hefty fee of nearly $5,000 for eight introductions matching their criteria. Tracey says her consultant played on her emotions. “She’d say Tracey, you are worth finding somebody and you deserve to find true love,” she said.
Tracey quickly feared she made a mistake when one date never showed and another was not the professional she was promised. “He had been unemployed for six months and he also wasn’t the same faith,” she said.
Carla had one introduction and then nothing, for months. “I had an expectation when you pay that kind of money that you are going to get much better service and there really wasn’t any service,” she said.
The Massachusetts Attorney General has logged 44 complaints against Elove since 2007. We found dozens more online. One woman posted: “It’s a pack of lies.” Another woman wrote: “I paid $6,000 for one connection and it wasn’t even a date, just a phone call.”
We also talked to another Massachusetts woman who says Elove set her up with a married man.
The I-Team tracked down a former employee who told us the company’s membership base is no way near as large as they lead their clients to believe.
So who is the man behind this company that has offices around the country? His name is Paul Falzone. We found a clip of him on YouTube explaining why he bought Elove. “The reason we went out on a limb and bought the online company was to show the online world that we could convert these leads and convert them at a large price point,” he said.
We went to find Falzone at his seaside home in Hull after he refused our on camera interview request. There was no answer at the door, but he did send us an email stating, in part: “Often in matching members we have to make judgment calls and not everything lines up perfectly.”
That, according to Tracey and Carla is an understatement. “At this rate, it could take them three years before they introduce me to eight men,” she said. “When you are dealing with people’s lives and now you are dealing with their money, you combine the two and throw the heart in there; that’s the worst kind of unethical practice,” Tracey said.
In his email to us, Falzone said only 3% of his clients have complained. But when Carla asked to speak with a satisfied customer, the company refused to put her in touch with someone.
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