In 2008, a social networking site was sued for false advertising through deceptive marketing e-mails. The company has settled the suit via the classic practice: trivial discounts to the affected parties, and some hefty legal fees.

How does all this start? People are solicited by persuasive banner ads featuring unflattering yearbook pictures. The website promises to reunite people with their mullet-haired friends of youth. Some people just laugh at the pictures and ignore the annoying flyer. Maybe they were working hard for years trying to put those horrible childhood memories behind them. For some other people with less painful early days recollections, it seems like a pleasant walk down memory lane. Remember him? Whatever happened to her? So some people register for (Why not, it’s free.) And soon they receive messages that some former school chums are trying to contact them. Now the people are excited and want to know who and why. Maybe it’s a long-lost fifth-grade dodge-ball buddy or a secret seventh-grade crush. Unfortunately, they can’t find it out until they upgrade to gold membership. They have to pay to play. And that’s how these craving-for-the-past people become gold members. (Why not, it’s inexpensive.) Now they can see who is so desperate to reconnect with them. It better be Jack… No, it is not Jack. Not Jill either. And also no one they’ve studied with, worked with, got in trouble together, lusted for, were beaten by – just no one ever strolled along their memory lane. In fact, no one even visited their Classmates profile. And the only ones trying to connect with these people are marketers. So the people have paid for VIP membership just to get scammed and find out how unpopular they are. People don’t like this kind of service.

Is it always like this? And the person looking for you can only be your imaginary childhood friend who has grown up and changed his legal name? No, sometimes Classmates find your real classmates. Omaha’s Westside high school graduates received an email with the subject line "Remember Mary Cronin? Say hi to the newest class of '83 alum to join." Mary Cronin was indeed a class of ’83 alum. The thing is, she was murdered in April of 1992. Her killer has never been caught. A cold case with no closure. For her friends, even years later it is still painful. A standard marketing stunt turned into a brutal joke.

People don’t like this kind of service. They want to terminate the membership. Not so fast… Some people can’t even find a legit phone number for the company. Now, distressed and failed to reunite with the old-time buddies, people unite with fellow sufferers on some web forum like ‘Classmates scam victims – together in retribution’. Together they can thrash out the company’s fraudulent policies, spiteful tricks, low BBB scores and find the ways to get even with the scammer. First, cancel the membership. People cancel, unsubscribe, terminate, withdraw and annul. Then re-cancel. And again. And another time. And over and over. It’s just not happening. Credit cards keep being charged, misleading emails keep coming and your personal data still being disclosed to the public. Some people got so pissed; they initiated a lawsuit against

The lawsuit was settled. agreed to pay $9.5 million to the members who signed up for service and upgraded to gold membership. That’s justice. God bless the lawyers. That’s lot of money. It was paid to 3.16 million people. So the jackpot comes up to $3 per person. It’s like giving each member a bag of peanuts. In fact, there were options: a $3 check or $2 certificate towards future membership. Thank-you-very-much, but I prefer peanuts. Finally the injured members got their peanuts and successful cancellation. But many of them are kicking their own lazy behinds for not trying to sue the company. Because the original plaintiffs got $2500. And what about the lawyers, God bless them? They also got their modest fee of $1,300,000. That’s lot of peanuts. And that’s how justice works.

But accidents like this should not stop you from trying to find your lost friends. There is nothing more valuable in life than relationships. Rekindle your old friendships. Keep in touch with your true friends. With those who love you for who you are. They will overlook your failures. They will even tolerate your success. Bring them back to your life. You don’t need to use paid services like Classmates to find them. There are Facebook and MySpace and lot of other services that are free. They are also free of infamous lawsuits. At least for now.