Month 1: Fraud

Whenever you are new to a site, I now know you get a lot of looks at your profile. Existing members who fit the criteria you have set re age range and distance from where you live are notified so most will at least give it a glance. I was flattered I got quite a lot of winks and messages straight away and of course I then looked at their profiles to see if it was reciprocal. One guy (L from Cheapside) winked on the very first day I was on the site and I thought his photo was very attractive and his profile was interesting. I didn’t understand the system at that point so I just noted it and only responded to those who actually sent messages. A week later I got a second wink from the same fellow. He then started messaging on line, he said he was from Paris but living and working in London (Cheapside –didn’t know anyone lived in Cheapside?). He wrote very flattering messages which I have to say I responded to positively then towards the end of the fourth message he wrote ‘ You are my life – my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby – hurry up the sun! Make the days shorter till we meet.  Also what is the best number to reach you’

I responded Whoah! Slow down, we haven’t even chatted yet, we’re a long way from knowing whether we’re a match but I’d like to be friends for now.’

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The messages kept coming, there were inconsistencies in what he was telling me about his family and what had written in his profile but I suppose I wanted to believe he was genuine. He even had said his hair colour was brown, when it was obviously grey in the photographs. I put it down to pressing the wrong choice button in multiple choice answers and language. He asked if we could Skype. At first I was sceptical especially as my Skype user name includes my surname – should have set up a new account – but eventually I agreed. Funny, but the camera on his computer was faulty, he could see me but I couldn’t see him. We did talk on audio and he certainly sounded French to me.

He started talking about a business trip to Dubai so I told him he’d better find a computer there with a working camera. I did think it odd that e-mails from him often arrived around 4am but he said he couldn’t sleep so that’s when he wrote them. He asked if, when he returned from Dubai, I would meet him at Heathrow and could I book a hotel room. I actually genuinely wasn’t available on the day the flight was due in and he said he’d change it to a day when I was.

I said if we were going to any hotel it could be in London as he was [supposed to be] living in the city. I said if he chose a hotel and booked a room, I would book my own room in the same hotel and we’d just have dinner and see how things went. He started getting very angry. He’d already been cross because he said he’d come off the dating–site since talking to me but that I was still on it and talking to other men, so I suspended my membership, now this. What had started out being fun was now getting stressful and controlling.

Luckily my daughter is very internet savvy and I was going round to see her anyway. I told her all about it and she reverse–imaged the photographs he had posted on the net and some he’d sent to me by e-mail. (He even phoned me whilst I was with her to say he’d sent his flight details to me by e-mail but by this time I was becoming aware that he was definitely a fraud so I just told him I couldn’t talk then but would e-mail him later). The photos turned out to be of an actor and he had stolen them from his website and another casting website. I wrote a last email to ‘L from Cheapside’ showing the proof of his deceit. With hindsight I shouldn’t have done that, it just made him wiser.   I not only reported him to the dating website, even though his profile was now removed – did he take his profile off or did the site remove him? I don’t know. I also wrote to the actor concerned and told him his images were being fraudulently used and told him the story. He was so kind and said how sorry he was that it was his photos that had attracted me in the first place. He did say that he wasn’t sure which he was more upset about, that his photos had been fraudulently used or that the guy had described himself as 62 and the actor is only 48!  I hoped that was the last I had heard from L but sadly not.

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How it started

I am a 68 year old, full-figured woman and have been widowed for 12 years and voluntarily and happily celibate most of that time (I had a little dalliance in a long-distance relationship about 6 years ago). I was born the only child of older parents (not unusual after the war) and had a strict upbringing.  I met my future husband whilst I was still at school, he was my first real boyfriend, got married at 18 and was totally faithful to him, and he to me, during our marriage. Thus, I suppose, in spite of having had a healthy sex life together, in terms of worldliness in these matters maybe I was a tad naïve.  We tried to give all three of our children the confidence to tread their own paths in all matters and they have. Hence they all have a far more knowledgeable view of the matters I am going to talk about than I did – but I’m learning fast!

I was actually looking on a website for temporary work when a pop-up advert for an on-line dating site for Older Folk piqued my interest and I thought I’d have a look. Being a complete novice, I didn’t realise I would  have to complete a Profile before I could browse at all and whilst it was free to get this far, if I wanted to interact at all I would have to pay a subscription. I resisted for a few days but then curiosity got the better of me and I decided to pay for a month (the longer you sign up for the cheaper per month it gets but I wasn’t sure whether this was for me).  At least I had the sense to set up a new e-mail without my name on it. This was Mid October 2016.