Plenty of Fish dating site founder pulls 'Intimate Encounters' option to ward off sleazy men

Markus Frind says only 6,041 of 3.3m daily users were women looking for no-strings sex

It’s a scenario familiar to anyone who has tried internet dating. You contact someone who appears attractive in their photos, only to discover they’re not quite so alluring in person.

But the founder of one of Britain’s biggest dating website has now decided to take radical action to root out fake and sleazy profiles - after revealing that many of the “women” who use the hook-ups section of his site are actually men in disguise.

Writing to members on Monday, Markus Frind, the Canadian founder of Plenty of Fish (POF), said that he had been forced to make a series of changes to its membership rules because too many male users are harassing women for sex.

The entrepreneur said that he had decided to scrap the “Intimate Encounters” option on the POF site due to complaints from some of its female users suffering unwanted attention.

In a message sent to all members, he said that only 6,041 of the 3.3 million people who use the site every day are in fact women looking for no-strings-attached trysts – adding “the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women.”

The computer systems graduate who founded the website - which now has a turnover of more than $10m (£6.6m) a year - in 2003, said he now wants it to now focus on ‘meaningful relationships.’

Mr Frind said: “When I created POF, I wanted it to be all about finding relationships with the right person. For the first seven years, this worked really well, I got the site to 10 million users without any employees and PoF was generating a ton [sic] of relationships”

But Frind said he would now be making changes, adding: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”

In other changes he has curtailed users from contacting members where there are age gaps of 14 or more years. “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact 18-year-old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hook-ups,” he wrote.

He added that an estimated two per cent of male members had “started to use POF as more of a hook-up site mostly due to the casual nature of mobile phone use,” following the increasing popularity of smart phone apps among the site’s users.

With over 55 million members world-wide and some 24 million messages sent every day, Plenty of Fish’s free-to-use membership has made it the most popular internet dating website in the UK and the US since it was founded in 2003. Mr Frind also recently boasted an estimated one million babies will have been born because of people connecting through his website.

One 21-year-old female user told The Independent she joined PoF because she was intrigued after a number of her friends had been using it. She started dating online with the hope of eventually beginning a relationship.

Instead, she was bombarded with sexually explicit photos and messages: “I used to get all sorts emailing me, asking to be my slave and asking for sex. I met my boyfriend on there and we have been dating since August, so my general impressions are mixed. You can meet some decent people but I wouldn’t use it again, it seems people just want casual fun.”

Case study: 'Some of the pictures were hilarious... guys just wanted to hook-up for sex'

'Emma', 29, from London

“I joined PoF in August last year and immediately started talking to guys online. Once I had spoken to them for some time and felt comfortable enough, I would exchange phone numbers. But once I did, I would be bombarded with pictures of willies and all sorts.

"Some of them were so hilarious, I had to show the girls in the office. At first I was really shocked by it, but it happened so often, it just became laughable.

"I wouldn’t say I’m very attractive, but I was getting about 53 emails a day from men which would be alerted to on my phone. Sometimes I would get the alerts at three in the morning, from men telling me their wife wanted to have a threesome.

"I’ve since warned my female friends not to go on the site because guys basically just want to hook-up for sex. I probably went on five actual dates in total and only one of them was normal.

"But, ironically, both my mum and my brother have both met their partners on PoF and got married.”

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit