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Last year, 7.1 million single Britons looked for a partner online, 800,000 more than in 2011, when, according to uk, there were 6.3 million.
So in May last year Aileen stumped up £1,295 for membership.
It offered her “unlimited personal introductions” to men serious about finding a relationship.
He claimed to be a high flier in a major American toy firm, but then managed to convince her to give him £200 for medical treatment, encouraging her to take out credit cards.
“Getting sucked into this made me feel really stupid,” Aileen said.
I didn’t want to put myself through all that.” The man, 54, from the North East, came across Elite Singles and thought it looked like a better bet for meeting someone more serious about finding a long-term partner.
He was also impressed with the advertised fact that 18,000 new members were registering with the site every week – giving the impression that he’d be spoilt for choice of potential dates.It promises “affluent, educated men and women between the ages of 30 and 55, who are all looking for a long-term commitment.” It charges £180 a year for membership.Another Telegraph Money reader, who does not wish to be named, turned to online dating after his relationship came to an end in February.Searchmate had so far suggested four – two of whom she’d already seen on rival site Plentyoffish.com, a free site, and who had both already declined to date her.In November she received a letter from a Searchmate adviser saying that her membership was “not progressing as expected”.When Telegraph Money spoke to one of Searchmate’s agents, we were told matchmakers would go to “great lengths” to find matches for singles, for example putting up posters in local sailing clubs (if the client listed sailing as a hobby), or even posting advertisements in newspapers. She said she sent several emails to Searchmate’s agents since November but did not hear back.In the meantime, she contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau, which provided some information on her consumer rights.Because of this it had suspended her account, even though she had not asked for this to happen.Searchmate has now offered Aileen a full refund of £1,295.The site explained that this was down to most of the gentlemen who were active within her area “going on hold”, meaning they could no longer be contacted.Searchmate offered to upgrade Aileen to its “Platinum” membership, a service via which customers are assigned their very own matchmaker who will proactively look for potential matches outside Searchmate’s client base.