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In the two years between 20 alone, revenue dropped by £9m from £168m to £159m.

This is mainly because cheaper competitor sites and smartphone apps, such as Tinder, have boomed in popularity, explaining why some of the UK’s pricier dating services are suffering – and possibly going to greater lengths to keep singles signed up on their books, Another site at the higher end of the dating market is Elite Singles, which is designed for people with a certain level of education.

But when he paid the money and logged back on, he was crushed to discover that not a single one of the profiles he’d been shown could be contacted.

This was because they were “registered” and not “paying” members.

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.

But despite the significant increase in the number of daters, total revenue for the UK dating industry is falling, meaning firms are making less money per head.

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.

Online dating scams: new tricks that fleece victims of an average '£9,589' But in November last year, Aileen felt a growing sense of disappointment as five months had passed and she had yet to meet any men.

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”.

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.