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The capital's coppers are warning lonely hearts to think about their safety when signing up to online dating sites because they can be a haven for sex offenders.

“Whilst the majority of clients are unlikely to have ulterior or dubious motives for using dating sites, it could still be something of a refuge for potential sex offenders to carry out their criminality undetected,” Detective Sergeant Gary Welsh of Sutton CID said in a canned statement from The Met.

The law said that there was often a lack of checks on dating sites for new clients, particularly those sites which do not require you to identify yourself or enter your credit card details to sign up.

The warning comes after cops in Sutton, in southwest London, started an investigation last week into allegations that a man harassed a woman he met through an online dating agency on social media, including Facebook.

Online harassment is a growing problem as social media becomes more and more popular.

The first official case in the UK was in March 2008, when a man was cleared of harassing his ex-girlfriend with a friend request on Facebook.

More recently, a man who posted sexually explicit images of his then-girlfriend on social networking sites and then emailed her friends and family to draw their attention to them was jailed for four months at the end of October. ®

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