A GAY man lost hundreds of pounds after being blackmailed by a person he met on a dating website.

Police are appealing for anyone else who may also have been affected by the scam to come forward.

The incident took place on July 15.

The 49-year-old victim had arranged to meet another man at an address in the North Road area of Darlington, having made contact through the 'Gaydar' website.

But when he arrived at the house at lunchtime he was approached by an unknown man, dressed in a white shirt with black epaulettes who claimed to be a police officer.

The victim was challenged about his actions and the 'officer' demanded he hand over a fine.

Feeling he had no option but to do as instructed by the 'officer' the man handed over his bank card and gave his PIN details.

The card was then used to purchase a mountain bike, drink and cigarettes and to obtain about £200 in cash, mainly through 'cashback' facilities at local stores.

The man then got in touch with advisors at Gay Advice Darlington (GAD).

Staff at the centre contacted police, who began inquiries in the area and arrested two men aged 26 and 28 on suspicion of blackmail and conspiracy.

After being interviewed the pair, from Darlington and Newton Aycliffe were released on police bail until the end of this month, pending further inquiries.

PC Craig Iredale said: "Since those initial inquiries we have identified other potential victims.

"However, we appreciate some may be reluctant to come forward because of personal reasons or because they feel vulnerable. "We would urge anyone who has been involved in a similar incident, whether they are from Darlington or elsewhere, to come forward.

"I can assure them anything they tell us will be treated in confidence.

"If they do not want to report this directly to the police they can contact GAD who will take the relevant details."

Callers who wish to report an incident through GAD can ring the organisation on 01325-252522 and speak to Emma Roebuck, an advisor with the organisation.

Those who feel able to speak to the police should ring 0345 6060 365 and ask for PC Iredale, or they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.