We like to believe that love can be found in any place and at any time because we are all romantics at heart. But we would also like that place to be the internet and that time to be right now because Netflix and Amazon have really spoiled us. That’s how dating/marriage scam sites are still in business. They are the places where lonely men set up profiles to meet international beautifies but usually get taken for large sums of money instead. “Maria” used to work for just such a service in Ukraine targeting American men, and this is what she told me about her job:
Most Of The Women At These Sites Aren’t Real
There must be many happy international couples who met at sites like the one Maria worked at. Like it, but not actually it, because everything there was whatever the Ukrainian word for “big fat lie” is. Maria found that out when she applied to work as a translator for the site, but instead was hired to… be the site.
“When I came to their office it turned out I wouldn’t quite translate the emails women wrote to American men, more like write them myself, using my own profile on their website … From where I stood all I had to do is write some emails and chat with guys (all in English, which was priceless), and I could keep doing it as a part-time job.”
Not only did the office employ women to set up fake profiles on the site, some were operated by guys. Even their pictures were faked: “They took some pictures of me and photoshopped them until I no longer looked human … [they] ‘perfected’ my skin and whitened my teeth, and since they were no Photoshop pros the photos looked pretty unnatural and even cheap.”
In short, if you want to replicate the kind of experience you got at Maria’s site, simply chat with Cleverbot while staring at a picture from This Person Does Not Exist.
The Site Would Try To Get Your Money At Every Turn
Maria never knew for sure who was behind the dating scam site. It might have been organized crime, but from what she told me, it had to be EA because they only gave you the most basic services for free with everything else being extra. Plus, some of the stuff you paid for was a total sham. The only way for this to feel more like an EA experience is if the site routinely sent you videos of a guy in a Darth Vader costume fucking your mom.
“Men had to pay for everything: emails were the most basic thing, chats were more expensive, video chats even more expensive.”
“Girls were paid for all of those proportionally. The jackpot was getting a gift from a guy, because you got paid the money equivalent of that gift after the agency took their cut. It could be one of things they offered to men on their website, from flowers to jewellery.”
Some of the supposed present options included stuff like flowers, a box of chocolates, a teddy bear, a pendant etc. The most expensive one was an English course. None of the girls actually received the physical gift, of course. They never existed. Well, that’s not entirely true. The office did keep a few physical gifts on hand for scam photo shoots:
“When you received a present, the administrator would tell you that you did, and they took a picture of you with what was supposedly your present.”
“I think the agency sent those to the men to demonstrate that the girl received it. But they were just pictures with a random box of chocolates or a pendant someone already owned.” You’d think that the American men would eventually catch on to that after yet another chocolate box picture that ONLY had the coconut chocolates left in it but love makes you dumb.
The Women Didn’t Make A Lot Of Money Off The Whole Thing
“I was pretty popular with guys, but I never made any decent money,” Maria explains, “because I refused to chat with perverts, never told anyone that ‘baby I love you’ BS, and didn’t ask for gifts. Essentially, I just talked to guys the way I would on a normal dating website … Who I was, what I studied, what I liked doing. What they liked doing, what their family was like, what their life was like … but it was still a lie, because I was getting paid for it and because I pretended to be interested in them while I wasn’t.”
That does seem understandable. If you don’t trick people into playing your rigged game, you can’t make a lot of money off them and I’m really not doing this in purpose but all these EA comparisons are just naturally coming up. But what about the other women at the office? Some must have had less scruples than Maria. How much did they make?
“I made what was then around 80-100 bucks for working maybe 3-4 hours a day after college, but like I said I was never good at it.”
“It was enough for me to buy some clothes and be less of a burden on my parents. Some girls managed to make a living out of it, which would mean they made $400 or more.”
Even if you adjust for the fact that that isn’t bad in certain parts of Ukraine, we’re not exactly talking about a fortune here. There was another way for those women to make some extra money, though:
There Was A Way To Meet The Women… But It Wasn’t Cheap
Occasionally, a client from the site would fly out to Ukraine to meet the girl he was talking to. And after overcoming his initial shock that she looked human instead of like a bad Photoshop job come to life through dark magic, the man usually went “fuck it,” and tried to seduce them anyway.
“Once a man around 60 or 70 came to see one of the girls from my office, who was 19 and looked like a 15-year-old emo. I thought that was sick … Some of the men were walking legends, like that 60-year-old guy who came to visit that girl from my office. Every girl knew him, because he chatted with literally everyone. And he was old and ugly as hell, it’s mean to say that but it’s true. There were a lot of men like that, whom we’d catch talking to multiple girls at the same time, telling each one how much he liked her … All in all, I had a feeling they saw Ukrainian women as primitive and naive, judging by the quality of conversation: corny compliments, talking about soulmates and destiny.”
Yup, after deciding that the whole distance and the internet were ruining their games, some men opted to visit the girls in person and hypnotize them with their sexy New Jersey accents or whatever. Sex wasn’t implied, though, so the only thing these men were getting was the most PG escort service ever. It actually came with a chaperone.
“’Couples’ were normally accompanied by a ‘translator’ that the guy (of course) had to pay for.”
“Both the ‘date’ and her ‘translator’ got paid for the meeting by the agency, but I can’t remember how much. The translator was usually another girl from the agency. I actually acted as one when those two met, even though the girl could speak English on her own. But they always made it sound like the girl needed a translator, which, again, looked pretty damn sketchy. That evening I think we just walked in the park, went to a restaurant, that kind of thing.”
In comparison, Cleverbot and This Person Does Not Exist are FREE services so… you know, weigh your options.