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Lonely hearts matchmaker has date with LA fraud police

Los Angeles - For years unwanted, lonely and loveless Americans sought out Helena Amram, paying her up to $50,000 (£30,000) in the hope of finally blazing a path to the altar, writes Phil Reeves. Now the tables are turned. Ms Amram is the wanted one - over the small matter of nearly $4m.

The 45-year-old matchmaker is under investigation on both coasts for allegedly leaving behind scores of unpaid refunds and a crowd of disappointed would-be lovers when she left the United States for Tel Aviv, Israel.

During the few years that she had a lavish office on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, decked with photographs of her hobnobbing with stars, she built a reputation for being fussy about clients, pitching her services to successful professionals whose classy style of living was too busy to find romance.

But some are far from happy. A university teacher has reportedly alleged she paid $15,000 to meet well-educated Jewish men in their fifties. Her first date, a man in his seventies, reportedly told dirty jokes and announced that he was simply "shopping around".

Then came a salesman whotried to get her to buy a cemetery plot.

Another hopeful spent $1,000 on new clothes after being promised "wealthy men". All she got was a cup of coffee with a film director, an evening at a county fair with a musician, and a man who refused to drive across town to meet her.

Ms Amram, who claims to have made 7,000 marriages, has published a book called Have I Got a Date for You. These days New York authorities seem to be echoing the sentiment, wanting to talk about her failure to pay almost $4m in refunds, as ordered by a judge.

And in LA, detectives allege she took clients money and left them stranded - as loveless as ever.