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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.“My daughters said online dating wasn’t good for me anymore, so I started looking for alternatives.” Aileen then came across Searchmate, a bespoke dating service which featured on the first series of Channel 4's The Undateables.It claims to offer a “safer and more credible alternative” to dating websites.They were good-looking women in his local area with similar interests – world travel, theatre and cooking.He didn’t hesitate to pay the £180 for 12 months’ membership as pretty much everyone he’d seen so far he would have gone on a date with, so there seemed to be a lot of potential for meeting someone special.
This was because they were “registered” and not “paying” members.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.One woman who is no stranger to the various pitfalls of dating services is Aileen Edwards, a 61-year-old health worker who cares for dementia sufferers. In her spare time she enjoys theatre, swimming and the great outdoors.
She says she “isn’t looking for a major spark” but is searching for a man with a good sense of humour to share her life with. The first blow was when she fell victim to a scammer on an online dating site.
Searchmate has disputed Aileen’s claims and said it had not received any correspondence from her after the letter was sent in November.