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Tricked woman sues online matchmaking service


08:19, March 20, 2013

BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- A woman on Tuesday took one of China's largest online matchmaking sites to court after the "high roller" she met online turned out to be a married man from the countryside.

The Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing started hearing the case.

Xiao Fang, the alias of the 38-year-old woman who launched the suit, said she met Jiang Haifeng, a paying member on the site who claimed to be the board chairman of a listed company, through Baihe, China's first online dating service to require users to register with their real identities, in October 2010.

After she gave Jiang 100,000 yuan (16,087 U.S. dollars) to invest in his company and gave birth to his child, she called police, who found that Jiang was, in fact, a married man from the countryside.

In August 2012, another court sentenced Jiang to four-and-a-half years in prison for swindling Xiao Fang and another woman he met on Baihe.

Although there is currently nothing in Chinese law that would require dating services to verify the marital status of registered members, she maintained that as an online dating service, the site is obligated to verify users' marital status.

She had also requested 500,000 yuan in compensation in the indictment, but withdrew the request at the court hearing.

The defense lawyers said the website had no right to check the user's marital status, which is administrated by civil affairs authorities. They added that the website's terms of service, which members agree to when registering, also do not specify the site's obligation to verify users' marital status.

The hearing lasted for nearly two hours, with the ruling to be announced at a later date.

Baihe currently claims to have more than 42 million registered members, and those who pay membership fees, like Jiang, are entitled to personal messaging and photo-sharing services.

An increasing number of lonely hearts -- often well-educated people who are too busy to find their soulmates after work -- has given rise to a boom in online dating services in China, exposing loopholes that demand industry supervision.

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