Oil consultant ‘blinded by attraction’ wins back £180k from Tinder date
An oil industry consultant who handed over £180,000 to a girlfriend he met on Tinder has won a court order forcing her to pay the money back.
Marcel Kooter, 57, said he was “blinded by attraction” when he agreed to transfer £182,000 to Manuela Radeva, believing she was an investment banker at Citibank.
Ms Radeva moved into Mr Kooter’s flat in Woolwich during a nine-month romance which began when they met on the dating app in February 2017.
He told the High Court her Tinder profile said she was single, but in fact Ms Radeva, 37, had married just weeks before they met and did not work in investment banking. Mr Kooter launched a legal battle for his money after the relationship ended, arguing he had given her the £182,000 to invest on his behalf.
Ms Radeva said he had handed it over to fund their lifestyle, but Judge John Cavanagh QC ruled on Friday that she must pay the money back.
The court heard the couple went on skiing trips and hotel breaks, and Mr Kooter spent thousands on gifts.
Michael Collard, for Ms Radeva, argued: “This was a relationship with lots of kisses. It was not a professional relationship … Whether the money was paid is not the important point — the question is what was it for? They were clearly living an expensive luxurious lifestyle and there was lots of money being spent.”
Neil Vickery, for Mr Kooter, said it was “quite clear that the money he was paying her was an investment”.
In his ruling, Judge Cavanagh said Ms Radeva signed off emails with the words “Capital Investment Manager”, and he was shown messages between the couple as they made investment arrangements. “Just putting a large amount of money into your bank account seems a bit reckless,” Mr Kooter wrote, and she replied: “Don’t worry about this — you can trust me completely”.
The judge said there was “a great deal of contemporaneous evidence to show Mr Kooter was giving Ms Radeva substantial sums of money so she could invest on his behalf, she having led him to believe she was an expert investor working in the finance industry. In my judgment, it is highly implausible that he was giving her this money for any other reason than that she should invest it for him.
“It might be thought to be strange that an experienced businessman would advance these sums to somebody he had recently met without a written agreement. He admits he was naive and says he was blinded by attraction.”
The judge ordered Ms Radeva to pay £182,050 plus £3,641 in interest, as well as more than £20,000 in legal costs. He refused a request by Mr Kooter for €36,000 he claims to have lent Ms Radeva.