Their search for love and romance ended with cruelty and crime.
The victims of these vile criminals did not discover the men they met online were not all they seemed, until it was too late.
Dating apps and websites are now more popular than ever, with thousands of couples finding love after setting-up a profile every year.
Last week popular match-making app Plenty of Fish called time on users who present a false image of themselves by banning the use of photo filters so that singles can get a more accurate impression of the strangers they might be meeting.
But tragically, the deception of some online daters goes far beyond a few unrealistically flattering profile pictures.
And today as we take a look at some of the North East criminals that made dating sites their hunting grounds, Northumbria Police has revealed how it now had to set up a series of specialist teams to deal with the types of cyber crimes that can flourish on dating apps.
A spokeswoman said: “As a force we understand that crime trends are constantly adapting due to technological advancements. We are proud to have a new Cyber Prevent Team, a dedicated Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) and a Domestic Abuse, Cyber Stalking and Harassment Team (DASCH) who all work hard to investigate cyber-enabled crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.
“However, anyone can find themselves in a vulnerable position regardless of how a relationship began, whether that is online or in person.
“In any circumstances, if someone falls victim to a crime we would encourage them to contact police to get the support they need.”
And Det Sgt Peter Booth from Northumbria Police’s Cyber Prevent team has warned those looking for love to beware of an emerging crime police are now calling ‘romance fraud’, in which criminals target those seeking a relationship and then fleece them.
He said: “Romance fraud is a cruel and humiliating offence where victims are made to believe they are speaking with someone who is interested in having a relationship, but they are actually being coerced into handing over personal information, cash and other valuables.
“It abuses the trust people have in others and preys on the vulnerable, and sadly, it is becoming more common through the continued use of social media and dating sites and apps.
“We would advise anyone who uses a social media platform, not just a dating app, to make sure they keep their personal information safe. Make sure you avoid giving away too many personal details, and never send anyone cash or your bank details, no matter how much your trust them.
“Another thing to look out for which is common in cases of romance fraud is you will probably be asked for a lot of personal information but not told much about the person you are speaking with.
“If you have any doubts about the person you are speaking with, or have fallen victim to this, please report it to Action Fraud.
“Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Here are some of the North East’s dangerous daters
Twisted Muir battered mum Pamela Jackson to death before burying her body on remote moorland.
The 55-year-old victim, from Chester-le-Street, met Muir on a dating website, around a year before she was killed.
Muir, who was from West Yorkshire, left his partner of 32 years to be with Pamela.
And when she vanished, in March 2013 the killer tried to pretend his lover was simply visiting him at his Halifax home.
But when Pamela failed to make contact with her family they became worried and called police.
Muir was arrested and finally charged with her murder.
But it would be more than two months before Pamela’s body was eventually found, buried in a shallow grave on the Pennine moors.
Muir was sentenced to 18 years in prison after a jury at Newcastle Crown Court found him guilty of manslaughter, but cleared him of murder.
After seeing Muir jailed Pamela’s son Andrew spoke out about the dangers of meeting people online.
He said: “My mum couldn’t settle with anybody. I think she got bored. We had many a fall out about the online dating and her meeting men.
“She had been doing it for about three or four years. I was just trying to make her see sense and settle down with someone, but it just wasn’t in her personality.
“I worried about her but I never imagined anything like this would happen.”
Tinder tormentor Turnbull subjected a woman he met on the app to a campaign of ‘relentless harassment’ during which he sent hundreds of friend requests using fake social media accounts after she tried to block him.
Turnbull had a short relationship with his victim, but when she ended it he refused to leaved her alone.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how when the woman blocked her ex on her phone and social media he sent “hundreds” of Snapchat friend requests from fake accounts to harass her.
He also contacted her family and friends in a determined effort to get in touch with the woman.
On one occasion he assaulted her and another time he turned up at her friend’s place of work and attacked her by throwing a champagne flute into her face, the court was told.
Turnbull and his victim were in a relationship for just three months, during which he showed signs of jealousy.
When she went to London with friends he contacted her asking for her password so he could access Amazon Prime.
The woman, who used the same passwords for various accounts, gave it to him but then got an email saying someone in Newcastle was trying to access an account and Turnbull later admitted it was him.
On another day, she went to his sister’s home in Longbenton to speak to him and he ended up locking her in the flat after drinking.
Turnbull, of Clayton Road, Jesmond, Newcastle, admitted two charges of harassment and common assault on his ex and assault on her friend.
In October, he was sentenced to nine months suspended for two years with 150 hours unpaid work and was made subject to an indefinite restraining order to stay away from both victims.
A mum who met Holland on dating app was horrified when she discovered he was a convicted pervert who should not have been near her daughter.
The pervert had only been out of prison a few weeks after being locked up when he was caught by paedophile hunters trying to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
As part of a sexual harm prevention order imposed alongside the prison sentence, he was forbidden from remaining in a household where a female child was present, without the express approval of social services.
But he made contact with the mother of a two-year-old girl on dating app Badoo, and arranged to meet up with her.
On two successive nights, he then went to the place where she was staying and spent time with the woman, in the presence of her child.
Holland, previously of Eslington Court, Gateshead, was caught after telling staff at his bail hostel where he had been.
In June he was jailed for 20 months after he admitted two breaches of the sexual harm prevention order.
Former vet Thompson tortured an online date to death during a drug-fueled sado-masochistic sex session.
He cut and caused severe internal injuries to David Kochs, 43, after meeting him through a website and inviting him back to his flat, in Jesmond, Newcastle.
At one point, Mr Kochs’ mouth and nostril was stapled shut with a surgical skin stapler. Mr Kochs died of severe internal injuries caused after an electric toothbrush and metal bar were forcibly inserted into his body.
Some of the wounds were inflicted after his death.
After Mr Kochs collapsed, Thompson boasted online: “I’m having such an extreme night. I don’t believe what I’m doing.”
He then covered Mr Koch’s body with a duvet and later had sex with another man in the flat.
Thompson, who played a major role in the response to the bird flu outbreak while he worked at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, was found guilty of manslaughter and actual bodily harm after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
He was jailed for 10 years with a five-year extended licence period.
Victims of romance fraudster Tuthill thought they had met the man of their dreams.
But in reality he was a scheming conman who would say anything to get his hands on their money.
The predatory Walter Mitty-style character spun a web of lies to ensnare three vulnerable women into believing they would live happily ever after with him.
Long-haired, love rat Tuthill conned three women out of up to £19,000.
After meeting two of his victims on Plenty of Fish and befriending the other at the Post Office where she worked, he claimed he was a high-flying barrister with the Crown Prosecution Service, and said he owned a racehorse and a £600,000 house, in Gosforth.
But in fact it was all a fantasy and the reality was he was so poor he had been living in hostels.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how he persuaded his victims to part with their money at vulnerable times in their lives.
Tuthill, of no fixed address, was jailed for two years and four months, in September 2017 after he admitted three offences of fraud at Newcastle Crown Court.
One of his victims said: “At the time I was quite lonely and regarded myself that I wouldn’t meet anyone again, and by talking to me he gleaned the information he needed.
“I still feel stupid. I’m really absolutely gutted and sickened he did this to me and others. Eventually I started suspecting that he was lying. He never let me meet his family and there would always be an excuse why I couldn’t.
“I gave him £3,000 for a van and I never saw any of that again. He said he needed presents for his son and I gave him around £1,000. He was full of promises.”
Rowe infected four men with HIV after finding them on the Grindr dating app.
The hairdresser, who was arrested in Wallsend, as sentenced to life with a minimum term of 12 years, at Brighton Crown Court last year.
He became the first man in the country to be found guilty of intentionally setting out to spread the virus, when he was convicted of 10 charges – five of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and five of attempting to do so.
At his trial, Rowe was accused of launching a a deliberate campaign to infect gay men he met on a dating app after being diagnosed in April 2015 in his home city of Edinburgh.
He had sex with eight of them in Brighton, East Sussex, between October that year and February 2016, and later with two in the North East.
Rowe told jurors he believed he had been cured of the virus by the time he moved to Brighton, having adopted the practice of drinking his own urine as a treatment, supplemented with natural remedies, including oregano, coconut and olive oils.