Citing CBS4 investigation, Better Business Bureau takes action against dating service

Update (Aug. 8, 2017)-- Indianapolis Singles has appealed the Better Business Bureau's decision. The appeal is currently pending.

Original story:

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The central Indiana Better Business Bureau has taken action against a local dating service, following a CBS4 Problem Solvers investigation.

You may have seen an ad online, or a billboard in the area, enticing singles to sign up for a local dating service called Indianapolis Singles. Now, though, if you look up the company on the BBB's website, you'll find the company's accreditation revoked.

"We keep that on there for the next three years," CEO Tim Maniscalo said.

The action comes after CBS4 Problem Solvers started looking into Indianapolis Singles. A customer, Tricia Sechrist, signed up for the service earlier this year. Sechrist said she paid $4,000, but in two months no one initiated contact with her on the company's web portal. Of the men Sechrist reached out to herself, a majority never responded.

"I'm finding a lot of complaints, the same complaints that I have," Sechrist said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers found almost 100 complaints to the BBB at seven dating services across the country, including Indianapolis Singles. The common thread among those companies is John Meriggi, a man out of Dallas, Texas listed as a company president.

Meriggi's Dallas Dating Company holds an F with its BBB. A previous company, Great Expectations, settled lawsuits with the Attorneys General in both Arizona and Wisconsin, ultimately paying back some clients.

David Jackson is one of several customers who reached out to CBS4 after seeing our original report. Jackson signed up for Indianapolis Singles in May, saying he hoped it would be better than his previous experience with Great Expectations.

"I mentioned Great Expectations and she said, 'Well, we knew about them, but we don't operate that way,'" Jackson said.

Jackson said the people he met in the office were different, but according to the Indiana Secretary of State's files, John Meriggi is listed as the president of both dating services. His company filed to operate under the name Indianapolis Singles in 2014, just four months after the Wisconsin Attorney General announced its settlement with Great Expectations.

"If possible, I'd like to get my money back. I don't know if that's going to happen," Jackson said.

Maniscalo said ultimately, it was CBS4 Problem Solvers' information that prompted the central Indiana BBB's Board of Directors to revoke Indianapolis Singles' accreditation.

"The background that (Meriggi) had and the citings that were from the Attorney General just made us think, hey, this is not the type of business that should be accredited by the Better Business Bureau," Maniscalo said.

As for Sechrist, she filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General, and said that complaint is still in mediation.

"If I get my money back, great. If I don't, if I can prevent somebody from going through this, that's pretty much my goal," Sechrist said.

Indianapolis Singles has denied CBS4's request for comment. In a written response to Sechrist's complaint, at attorney called her claims "unfounded and unwarranted," calling her adversarial for talking to us.

The company has 30 days to appeal the BBB's decision. Maniscalo said BBB locations in several other cities, including Chicago, are currently investigating their associated dating services.

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