On­line dat­ing de­clines

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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