GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Elizabeth Labine leafed through a pile of legal papers. They're sore reminders of the high price she paid looking for love through a dating service.
"I just remember feeling very pressured. I mean, they really play on your emotions," said Labine.
Labine served in the Army, spent three years in Iraq as a contractor and then moved to West Michigan, where she didn't know anyone.
Labine turned to Two of Us, a dating service in Grand Rapids.
"They were very convincing that they were the answer. I would just have to pay more than the normal online service would be but, you know, isn't love worth it?" wondered Labine.
It felt like a match made in Heaven, but it could be called a love-hate relationship now.
She paid nearly $3,000 and was promised introductions to six "high-caliber" bachelors. Six months later, she had only met three people.
"It's a scam. I think it's a 100% scam. They don't care about the matches. They don't care about the quality of the relationships," said Labine.
Target 8 discovered Labine isn't the only unsatisfied client. Court records in Kent County alone show three people have sued the agency, including Labine.
A man in Muskegon said he paid nearly $2,500 and never got the "service he paid for." That man got his money back. A judge even ordered Two of Us to pay court costs on top of it.
Target 8 spoke to another woman who said she paid nearly $7,500 and only went out on two dates over the course of eight months. She's considering a lawsuit, too.
Ethan Baker, vice president of operations for Two of Us, defended the company and stands by its practices.
"A couple of small claims lawsuits are filed and all of a sudden the accusation is that we're a fraudulent company or a scam company. And what's not being told is the other side of it, where there are hundreds of people who are actively using our service today who are happy with what's going on," said Baker.
Baker also said, "when it's a matter of the heart, it's extra-emotional and there's higher expectations to certain levels and it's harder to please those people."
One man who sued the company paid $3,795, but said he wasn't introduced to any "suitable" companions, calling one "rather plain" and suggested "adding a little height" to his file preferences.
But that's not all Target 8 discovered.
The president of Two of Us was involved with a service called "Together" in California. In 2004, an employee who sued the company also accused it of fraudulent business practices. That plaintiff, a woman, said employees posed as satisfied clients who'd gotten married.
Baker said Two of Us doesn't operate that way and said those allegations were false. The case has since been settled.
"That lawsuit was almost 10 years ago, under very different circumstances, different companies, different players, different people involved. There is a common person still involved who is affiliated with Two of Us," said Baker.
Joy Yearout with Michigan's Attorney General's Office said the office has investigated Two Of Us for four complaints since 2010, including coercion during a sales presentation.
" The Michigan Consumer Protection Act says a business must be honest about costs and fees," said Yearout.
Most online services charge $25 to $60 for a monthly subscription, Target 8 found. Baker said paying thousands is common for a personal dating service because clients get more one-on-one attention. Target 8 found a phone dating service that charges $12 a week.
Labine got half of her money back after she filed a lawsuit against Two of Us.
She now admits she went looking for love in the wrong place.
"I've actually found a wonderful man when I wasn't looking. So I'm very, very happy now. It was actually from my own personal hobbies and activities that I like to do," said Labine.
Dating service red flags from the Michigan Attorney General's Office
We get a brief break from the "lake-effect machine" Friday.
A few flurries occurred Thursday night. Lows held in the teens and the wind relaxed to the 5 to 10 mph range, with 20s at the Lake Michigan.
On Thursday, the medical examiner's office said CMU student Kelly Markatos died as a result of the eating disorder bulimia.