Ryan said: “It’s all about stringing them along on tenterhooks with that pretence that eventually they’ll meet up, or just swap telephone numbers.

Millions of people looking for love sign up for internet dating sites every year.

They hand over intimate details about their lives in the expectation they will meet genuine daters.

They also expect their personal information will be looked after.

However this trust is often abused as our special investigation into one of Britain’s biggest internet dating companies has found.

Global Personals is one of the UK’s largest internet dating companies.

Headquartered in Windsor it makes £40m a year, has 130 staff and runs 7,500 dating sites.

There were loads of cop-outs you could use.” Sometimes, having given an innocent user a brush-off from one fake profile, the pseudo team member would then message them from a different fake account to continue the fake flirting.

“Most people were talking to more than one pseudo,” said Ryan.

Ryan said: “You’d take Helga from Iceland and make her into Helen from Manchester and write a profile.

You’d use her features and invent a whole new person.” Each team member would be running as many as 15 different personalities: old and young, male and female.

They would use these fake profiles to send flirty messages to innocent users – as many as 400 messages an hour were sent by the team.