When Classmates.com told user Anthony Michaels last Christmas Eve that his former school chums were trying to contact him, he pulled out his wallet and upgraded to the premium membership that would let him contact long-lost fifth-grade dodge-ball buddies and see if his secret crush from high school had looked him up online.
But once he'd parted with the $15, Michaels learned the shocking truth: No one he knew was trying to contact him at all. Classmates.com's come-on was a lie, and he'd been scammed.
At least that's what the San Diego resident alleges in a lawsuit (.pdf) filed against one of the net's original social networking sites, whose banner ads featuring unflattering yearbook pictures remain a staple around the internet. If the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, succeeds, it could raise the minimum standards of honesty for online businesses.