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It is the sheer variety of websites Jenny has been made available to that shocked her the most when Channel 4 contacted her a fortnight ago to tell her their findings — and which finally persuaded her to cancel her subscription.A spokesman for Global Personals told the Mail: ‘When members subscribe to one of our sites, they are advised in the terms and conditions that their details will be made available to members of different sites on the relevant shared database.Not only was she 42 and the sole carer of her six-year-old son Will, but her demanding career as an accountant left her with precious little time to socialise.Nonetheless, she didn’t want to be alone forever, so when she heard about an internet dating site for single parents like herself, she joined without a second thought, Jenny told Channel 4 News in a programme that will be aired tonight.Also, in a bid to boost their revenue, the company was specifically employing staff whose sole job it was to set up and run fake profiles on the dating sites, to keep members interested. I was put on the back foot and so flummoxed I didn’t contact him again.’Nonetheless, as the months passed, she was sent three emails a day from unlikely suitors, who ranged in age from 22 to 73. ‘I can’t remember any being particularly crude, but maybe they were and I never saw them.’Jenny says she quickly suspected some of the identities were fake.Within weeks, Jenny got her first warning signal: She’d begun emailing a fellow single parent from her area and the pair had swapped phone numbers:‘I texted him and said “it’s Jenny from Just Single Parents” and he replied “what? ‘I know I got emails that weren’t from real people,’ she told Channel 4 News.
Worse still, her picture and profile have been plastered across tawdry dating websites belonging to ‘lads mags’ such as Nuts and Loaded that are more associated with scantily-clad girls in semi-pornographic poses than professional, middle-aged women like Jenny.Worryingly, the practice, while misleading, is perfectly legal.It is called ‘white-labelling’ and happens when a product produced by one company, such as Global Personals, is rebranded by other companies — in this case dating websites.‘You’d ask a man a question, such as how many children he had, and would get a reply tell you how happy they are they’ve met you.’She adds: ‘You don’t realise to start with that these companies they have “ice breaker” messages saying “I like your profile” or “you’ve got a lovely smile” that are sent to all the women in East Sussex between the ages of 35 and 55. After a while you realise a lot of the messages you get are sent to hundreds of people, not just you.’‘I remember one email I got that persuaded me to re-join was from a good-looking, wealthy single father who ran his own building business,’ says Jenny.‘Part of me suspected it was too good to be true, but I replied anyway.’ And, surprise surprise, she never heard back.‘I only met most of them once, for a drink,’ she says.