Browsing through the website’s members’ pages, I see about 18,760 men in London aged 40-49 signed up to the site, compared with 4,730 women in the same age range. Some advertise themselves as religious; most are older men who know they are out of my preferred age range, but “just want to say hi anyway”.It’s no wonder I’m being hounded as one of just 30 women under 30 years old with an active account – the ones messaging me know it too, trying to attract my attention with openers such as “pick me! Of course there are explicit messages but most are polite, friendly – verging on begging letters.She emails me moments later: “I haven’t even finished setting up my bio and I’ve been ‘favourited’ twice.”I vow to get proactive. ” and take an indiscriminate copy-and-paste approach. I reveal I’m a journalist and he is happy to discuss his experiences.Which, it transpires, involves taking out my credit card. He’s been a member for three months and has parted with £350.
“Being the nice guy I am, I offered to stick around,” he tells me.We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating. There’s the option to send digital gifts: a teddy bear, a rose or a sapphire necklace (at £16! I swap the last of my credits for 30 minutes of live chat.Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber–terrorism will be held responsible.”For now, the site is still charging, apparently banking on the impulsivity that drives online gambling. A message pops up “hi can give you a strip show right now… ” I am directed to a live webcam site but with one eye on my expenses claim, I decide to call it a day and let the flood of red-lip emojis cascade over me.Their stories are largely the same old cliché: stuck in a loveless marriage and seeking a thrill to ease the mid-life crisis.Chat-up lines range from “one woman’s fresh meat is another’s stale smorgasboard [sic]” to “are you a tea or a coffee person?