Online dating declines
LONELY hearts are falling out of love with online dating and returning to traditional matchmakers.
The Association of British Introduction Agencies says its members, which vet potential partners and conduct face-to-face interviews, saw an increase of at least 27% in enquiries over the past year.
The resurgence comes after numerous horror stories of fraudsters preying upon victims through online dating to gull them into handing over large sums of money.
The latest figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reveal 3 889 romance-seekers were duped into handing over £39 million (R643m) to criminals last year.
Linda Cloke, who runs the Click agency in Maidstone, Kent, said: “People have opened their hearts to me about being conned online. I know one gentleman who was exploited by a woman who got him to buy her a £14000 car. He really believed they had found love, but once she had got what she wanted, she dumped him.
“Another man married a Russian woman he met online and she came to live here with her six-year-old. They were together for two years and he ended up losing half his house.”
The internet dating scammers are often traced to criminal gangs in West Africa or eastern Europe, and police struggle to bring them to justice.