Maryland's attorney general is investigating a video tape dating service that apparently closed its Silver Spring office in September, leaving numerous customers wondering where their money went.
Investigators are looking for Fred Weston, a man they believed owned what was billed in television and newspaper ads as "the new TV dating game."
"It could be that Fred Weston and the new TV dating game are an honest business failure," said Assistant Attorney General William Kenety. "It could be there's something else to it."
"I think I got ripped off," asserted an Adelphi man who said he paid $495 for the opportunity to view 10 videotapes per month of prospective dates. When he showed up for the viewing, he said, the number of available tapes was down to three. When he returned in September, he found the door locked and the phone disconnected.
The man, who requested anonymity, said the videotaping consisted of an interviewer asking the prospective date what he or she did with his or her spare time, what the person looked for in a date and what the person liked to do on a first date.
"I had just moved to the area," he said. "I figured instead of going to bars and shoving my way around this might be a different way of meeting some girls." The man, 25, said he did in fact date one of the women he met through the videotape service.
Kenety said the attorney general's office has received 15 complaints from Montgomery and Prince Georges counties and from Baltimore, where the business began operating under another name in 1976.
Investigators said they are looking into reports that many customers were encouraged by the dating service to finance their payment through two Virginia lending companies.
A woman who answered the phone at Weston's Laurel home yesterday said "he cannot be reached. He's traveling on business now. I'd rather not tell you anything."