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A dating website has denied a PR stunt over ugly users

By Dan Whitworth
Newsbeat technology reporter

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A PR firm has denied claims a story about a dating website banning 30,000 ugly people was just a publicity stunt.

Beautifulpeople.com gets existing users to vote on whether or not someone's attractive enough to join.

But the site's boss says it was hit by a virus which let tens of thousands of people join without passing that test.

An internet security expert had raised concerns about the story but the site's PR company, Golden Goose, has hit back insisting it's true.

Felicity Hardingham, a spokeswoman for the firm said: "Beautiful People had to refund over £61,000 to people who paid for premium services who were then rejected.

"37,000 people signed up when the rating system was down, and 30,000 of them were rejected".

Most of them have now been sent an email apologising and saying they were "wrongly admitted".

In total 5.5 million people have been rejected by the site which claims to have 700,000 members around the world.

Wrongly admitted

In the original statement Greg Hodge, the site's managing director, said: "We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted, many of whom were no oil painting.

"We responded immediately, repairing the damage from the Shrek virus and putting every new member [to the vote].

"We have sincere regret for the unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and who believed, albeit for a short while, that they were beautiful," he added.

There's no evidence yet about who might have been behind the hack although it's thought an ex-employee could be involved.

Around one in seven applicants is accepted with the majority of successful new members coming from the USA, Denmark and France according to figures from the site.

The UK is among the countries with the highest rate of rejection alongside Russia and Poland.

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