Opinion

How Profile Verification Helps Ukrainian Scammers Defraud Millions Out Of Hopeful Singles Part 2

ukraine

This is part two of a guest blog by Elena Petrova, Dating Coach & founder of Elenasmodels.

Profile verification on dating sites is a feature that is worth its weight in gold. It’s not hyperbole. There are dating sites that boast tens of thousands of verified profiles, with copies of documents and video greetings recorded on file. And then those sites allow manifold months-long swindles that rip off their clients for millions of dollars, while getting the first cut on the profits. This article explains how it’s done.

Part 2

I have recently noticed job ads seeking female personnel who are willing to chat from their own profiles and use video while chatting. These are new. Separation of faces and typing hands was one way to maintain control and ensure letter writers don’t disclose too much to their online suitors about being paid to chat.

Other job ads require models (pretty young women from p.#1) to provide unprofessional selfies twice a month, in addition to the initial photos taken by the agent.

That’s obviously to bypass any suspicion around the authenticity of profiles and ongoing communication, and fool both male clients and master sites’ “scam prevention” administrators.

  • “No knowledge of English is required, use online translators,” some job ads entice. 
  • Others insist that “only people with experience of working in dating chat are needed.”
  • The third cite “urgent vacancy for a top profile”, apparently needing someone to fill in for a pretty face with lots of ardent admirers, because the letter writer has left the company.
  • The ads emphasise the need to work at nights because of time difference with the USA.
  • The employees are required to work 5-6 days a week for at least 4-8 hours daily.

It’s not unusual for letter writers to fall in love with men they communicate with. They are regular people, after all, with feelings. 

I have seen a discussion board where a letter writer (aka “typing slave”) was asking advice about what the company (agent) can do to prosecute her, as she violated the terms of her employment and disclosed her real identity to a client she fell in love with, while typing for somebody else’s profile.

fake-russian-brides

Screenshot: Discussion board, letter writer asking for advice whether she could be prosecuted by the agent for disclosing her identity to the client.

“Run from this place,” the overwhelming advice from contributors was. Others chimed in saying she has committed a crime of fraud by impersonating another woman. The discussion is dated 2011. It’s still the same jobs that are advertised on Ukrainian employment portals today.

If a letter writer finds a better job, he may leave the position, since they clearly know what they are doing: scamming foreigners.

The agents that hire models and letter writers have no interest in relationships but only in how much money they can make per profile. In fact, any woman who finds a match means a loss of income from her other admirers for the agent, which usually have months invested in them.

What Master PPL Sites Are Doing To Conceal The Problems?

The international pay-per-letter (PPL) sites are aware of the schemes that their agents set up. Of course they are: the communication happens on their sites, otherwise agents cannot receive commission.

Master PPL sites have systems of fines for agents that “violate the rules” (i.e. hire employees to purport the dream for foreign bachelors). 

But regardless of the “rules” and “checks”, there are 50% more ads seeking personnel to operate paid chats in Ukraine today than there were six months ago. The communication scams are on the rise, just as the Ukrainian economy is steadily slipping down, inflation increases, and actual incomes shrink.

In general, PPL sites give the following instructions to their agents:

  • Girls do NOT work! They are only registered on the site to find a partner.
  • Girls should write their own letters. No one should use the password and login of a girl except herself. No one should perform any activity under her identity.
  • The girl should know with whom she communicates: names, when they talked the last time, about what.
  • Check girls’ pages in social networks: her status should not be “married”, “dating”, “in a relationship”.
  • If a girl’s profile says she has no kids, there should not be any kids in her photos on social networks, stating those are her children.
  • Girls are not allowed to communicate with men on other sites, except on our dating site.
  • Include notes on the girl’s profile, if you find any violations. If you discover and record the violation, you will not be fined. If we find a violation, you will be fined.

It’s plain to see that having “verified profiles” with copies of documents on file does little to protect clients from abuse through PPL communication scams. Master PPL sites cannot ensure authenticity of all communication and have to constantly hassle their agents, in order to prevent what they call “violations”.

The profile may have a “verified” status with video and copies of documents on file, and be operated by a third party (including the agent himself).

In my estimation, a minimum of 20-50% of profiles on PPL master sites are initially fake, i.e. set up by rogue agents that hire models and letter writers (depending on the site: some master sites allow a writer to manage up to 20-30 profiles, others insist on unique IP/computer for each profile). On the worst of PPL sites, up to 90% of “verified” profiles are set up by models and writers, with extensive use of chat bots.

However, even 20% of fake profiles may generate the biggest share of the site’s communication, which could be up to 80-95% of all letters and chats on the site – even for the sites that aim to keep things under control.

Vesti reported that rogue agents require employees to send 350 requests to new men every day, trying to acquire more long-term admirers. Normally a person seeking a relationship would only send 10-15 requests a week, not thousands. If you think about Nigerian love scammers – they do blanket emailing to all profiles in their selected age bracket, targeting people with unattractive photos. The same targeting and blanket emailing is utilized by communication scammers on PPL sites. It’s no secret.

The commission-based PPL structure makes it unprofitable for honest businesses (agents) to operate relationship-oriented systems, but highly profitable to run a communication scam.

There is nothing PPL sites can do to change this fact. Honest work pays very little to the ones who are interested in connecting lonely hearts. But the ones who simply run a business of spamming men with love confessions from beautiful brides, targeting as many hopeful gentlemen as possible, these people have an upper hand and grin all the way to the bank.

Can master sites stop the abuse? Only if they are willing to face a sharp decline in profits to preserve integrity, as opposed to closing their eyes to abuse and essentially condoning it.

As any owner of a non-PPL dating site knows, there are certain patterns of communication that are red flags for scammers. The same patterns of communication could be monitored on PPL sites, if they wished to stop scams.

The simplest thing, however, would be to stop paying commissions to agents. But that’s unlikely to happen, because it would obliterate carefully oiled systems of PPL dating. Thus, the problem is likely to persist for PPL sites with Ukrainian brides on books.

By separating themselves from agents who sign up women, PPL sites maintain the position that their intentions are legitimate and truthful. The agents are “bad” for breaking the rules but master sites are all dressed in white and guiltless. Even though the actual scams occur on their sites – because only then rogue agents get their commissions.

And while we all are tiptoeing around the issue and trying to pretend it’s not happening, nothing is going to change.

Getting to the level of authenticity is simple. It doesn’t require complicated structures of fines for “partners” that are painless to bypass for determined scammers. It simply involves transparency.

By Elena Petrova

Elena Petrova is a dating coach with 17-year experience in the industry of relationships. She is a certified Life Coach and Master, Trainer of NLP. Elena was mentored by the founder of Time Line Therapyâ„¢ Dr. Tad James and the creator of Neuro-Semantics Dr. Michael Hall. She is the founder of Elenasmodels.com, an international dating site for Russian, Ukrainian women seeking partners for relationships with 450,000 active user profiles from 190 countries. Elena has a degree in Philosophy and lives on the beautiful Gold Coast in Australia.

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