Two founders and board members of Texas space startup Firefly Aerospace appear to be involved in running a fake dating site, according to a two-year-old survey released Wednesday by Snopes. The investigation is understood to have targeted two men, Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov and investor Mark Watt, who ran dozens of fake dating websites using shell companies.
These sites include “BuddyGays,” “MyLusty Wish,” “WantMatures,” “Loveaholics,” “SpicyDesires” and “AffairDating.” After creating free accounts on many of these sites, Snopes found them full of seemingly fake profiles, some of which stole photos of models on the web.
The sites reportedly tried to convert free accounts into paid users through a message explosion, and that they were hard to cancel. A security expert at Snopes says the model is similar to what the Bureau of Business Improvement calls a “subscription trap”, which is a potentially illegal tool.
Thomas Markusic, Firefly’s chief executive and co-founder, said in a phone call with The Verge on Wednesday that the aerospace startup was a “completely independent entity.” Although Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov is a major shareholder in the company, he is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
“We have contracts with the government, we are very careful to be completely transparent and open to our customers and with our customers, and we have a full legal team to ensure that we comply with all legal and ethical requirements of our contractwith with the government,” Mr Markusic said. “