A woman says she's been 'catfished' a whopping 25 times in a year, after having a disastrous dating experience online.
Mum-of-two Samantha Thorne, 42, from Kent, joined dating app Plenty of Fish, after her second divorce, and although she was optimistic about finding love, she ended up attracting a series of 'catfishers'.
After a year of dating woes, Samantha has now found her partner, David Tyson, 55, who she started dating during lockdown. Now loved up, the mum has now turned her old dating diary into a book.
"I decided I'd give it a go - I was looking seriously because I wanted to find someone to settle down with," said Samantha.
"When I first started, I trusted everyone would be who they said they were - but the more people I spoke to, the more I learned people are not always who they say they are.
"It was a strange time in my life - it was fun at times, but you definitely need a thick skin. But I've got my happy ending now with my new man - so I won't be using dating websites again!"
Throughout her year of dating, Samantha - who is mum to Owen, now 17, and daughter Daisy, now 15 - says she was catfished more than 25 times.
Beautician Samantha even went for a drink with one man whose photos were so inaccurate, she didn't realise she had actually dated him in the past.
Meanwhile, one match shockingly asked her on a date to a swinger's club.
Samantha said: "When he said there was somewhere he wanted to take me, I envisioned a nice restaurant - but he told me he 'wanted to get other people involved'.
"I thought it was a joke at first because he'd never even hinted - if that's your interest it's the kind of thing you should mention on your profile!
"I was pretty disappointed because we got on so well at first."
Samantha's second online dating disaster happened just a couple of months later when she began chatting with a man who claimed to be a rich model.
But after one of Samantha's friends became suspicious over his photos, they realised the so-called model's photos had been lifted from an American online modelling portfolio.
"I had been sucked in - but it became clear his story was fake after we began digging," she said.
"He sensed I'd figured it out and blocked me straight away - so I have no idea who I was speaking to for a week of my life!"
But Samantha said her most unusual date was meeting up with someone who looked so different to his profile that she didn't realise she'd already dated him in the past.
"I walked into the bar to meet him and as soon as I saw him, even with his back to me, I knew I'd met him for a date about seven years earlier," she said.
"I was adamant we'd met before - but when I pointed it out, he argued against me and accused me of lying!
"There had been no initial attraction or chemistry back then, and there still wasn't the second time round. Plus, he clearly didn't remember me from the last time, which made it very awkward."
Despite a series of disasters, Samantha has been loved up with David for a year, initially meeting for socially-distanced walks throughout lockdown, and even teaming up to deliver care packages for staff at their local hospital.
And the couple moved in together in September!
She said: "It's such a calm and happy relationship and we get on so well - we even built a bar at the bottom of the garden together."
Samantha has even written a book, A Year in the Life of Internet Dating, detailing her hilarious experiences.
She said: "I've definitely found my happy ending - but I'm pleased I will never need to use internet dating sites any more. It's been enough for a lifetime!"
Tyla has contacted Plenty of Fish for comment.
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