Over pizza, Ms Fontaine discovered that Terry wasn’t a paying member of Elect.‘He said he had had a call from them inviting him to come to some events.An internet search turned up the equally worrying fact that he had recently changed his name and that several of his companies had been fined.Feeling seriously offended, Ms Fontaine decided to ignore Elect Club’s demands for her to set up a direct debit. I was planning to get out before I had to pay any more money.’She was offered another introduction, this time to an IT worker called Terry, who was in his 50s and from Pinner.
Impressed by this apparently rigorous approach, Ms Fontaine, 44, rang up to enquire about joining and a consultant invited her to an interview, not at the company’s registered offices in the City of London but at the Charing Cross Hotel on The Strand.‘I thought it was a bit strange but was quite happy because it was on my way home,’ says Ms Fontaine. She was given his email address and sent him a message. They emailed her some more details, for a man with a Persian-sounding name, who was 56 and worked in financial investments.
On its website, it boasted of being ‘the number one dating agency in the UK’ with branches in several major cities.‘Elect Club is an exclusive social network for attractive, dynamic, eligible professionals looking for a serious relationship,’ it said.
‘We have set the standard in discreet, selective and personalised introductions.’The firm, or ‘niche introduction agency for attractive professionals’ as it described itself, even offered a special service for the over-40s and the company boasted it had been featured in glossy magazines including Grazia and Cosmopolitan.
He was hardly the City slicker Elect were promising.
‘He kept going on about his boating holiday on the Thames. As we walked down the King’s Road, me with my designer handbag and Terry with his rucksack, I just thought, “So much for the neuro- linguistic programming.” ’But there was worse to come.