The fake sex chats that fool men around the world with an elaborate scam

  • Nduka Orjinmo
  • BBC News, Abuja

4 hours ago

Credit, Ieromin

The client is a 50-year-old male in the United States. The attractive white young woman he chats with online is Gingerhoney, a model who uses a profile picture of her lying on her stomach in bed. The client thinks the young woman is somewhere nearby, but has no idea that Gingerhoney is actually a man in a very distant location – Nigeria.

Men like this, all over the world, pay hundreds of dollars on adult websites to chat with what they think are young, attractive women, but in fact, they could be anyone, the BBC has learned.

Months of evidence collection revealed a global operation behind these fake profiles, which reach from the Netherlands to the United States and, via Suriname, to Nigeria, where it can break strict laws on digital conduct and adult content.

Nigerian university student Abiodun (not his real name) is one of many people who manage fake profiles on dating websites owned by Dutch company Meteor Interactive BV.

Abiodun trades profiles among the dozens of fake accounts he runs on these websites, but he always claims to be an attractive young white woman. On one such site, he is Gingerhoney, a 21-year-old model with a pink comforter draped suggestively around her waist.

She describes herself as the best thing in the world, after honey, and encourages men to call her Ginger (“redhead” in English) – “the same color as my hair”.

Abiodun keeps, somewhere on his computer, a folder with several lewd images of Gingerhoney, in case a client asks for erotic images. These photos, including the profile picture, are stock photos taken from a variety of sources.

Abiodun isn’t the only one with access to Gingerhoney’s profile. Dozens of other people manage it 24 hours a day, in shifts.

photo caption,

Access screen of fake profiles on Meteor Interactive websites

Abiodun and his colleagues use an advanced map tool to create a fake location for Gingerhoney within a 50km radius of the client. That’s why they match. The customer paid for the chat, and although he hasn’t said it yet, he hopes he can find her.

Signing up on the websites is free, but customers need to subscribe to packages, which cost from US$6 to US$300 (about R$30 to R$1,500), to receive or send messages to “women” .

Abiodun says that while younger clients want to physically meet the women they think are in their vicinity, older clients are satisfied with sex chats and erotic photos and videos.

The goal of Abiodun and others is to keep these subscribers on the websites for as long as possible, so that they run out of credit. They are instructed that each message is at least 150 characters long and ends “open”, so the conversation can continue.

“It’s like a customer service job, except the customer thinks they’re talking to the director,” Abiodun told the BBC.

Meteor Interactive BV uses a third-party company in Suriname – Logical Moderation Solutions (LMS), founded by a Surinamese man named Orano Rose – to recruit, train and appoint its Nigerian employees.

The BBC found evidence in LMS accounts on WhatsApp, Telegram and Skype that the company recruited and trained hundreds of people, mainly in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Abuja. The job openings are advertised on Instagram, Twitter and Telegram and are aimed at the army of unemployed young graduates in Nigeria.

Jobs are advertised as “online roles”, “digital marketing jobs” or “chat moderation”, with no mention of adult content that employees will need to manage.

One of the LMS’s top recruiters, Adedamola Yusuf, lives in Germany and takes care of the job postings on her social media accounts, where she displays a lifestyle of glamor and glamour, vacationing in exotic locations.

“You’re talking to bored white people. And the work is perfectly legal and authorized, both in Germany and Nigeria,” she said in a WhatsApp chat with potential hires on her first day on the job.

Yusuf has been recruiting employees for over two years, and in a recruitment round in November 2021, hundreds of people were hired. She did not respond to requests for comment sent by the BBC.

“These folks in the West mostly want to talk,” one coach told a group of new employees. Therefore, candidates need to pass grueling English language tests to be able to play their roles with minimal errors.

“The right thing is ‘I am’ [eu sou] and not ‘am'”, heard a candidate during a training session in the WhatsApp group of the company I attended.

Nicholas Akande, LMS director in Nigeria, hired more than 100 people in the first week of July and told them the job was legal. He also did not respond to BBC requests for comment.

Nicholas Akande

Credit, Nicholas Akande/Instagram

photo caption,

Nicholas Akande trains new candidates on WhatsApp and Skype

Candidates also receive classes on the culture, writing style, and conversational trends in the places where their clients live, to appear authentic.

Training can last a few days or even a week. In the end, they are given the login details on the websites, where they have access to personal information such as the home address, phone number and age of the subscribers.

The BBC observed comments from men online, claiming they spent $300 to $700 on these websites, hoping to find the “women” they were talking to.

“I must have texted 20 women and I was always pushed aside when I suggested we meet in person,” said one of the men, who claims he spent $64.99 on a website owned by the company. Meteor Interactive.

Another man claimed to have “purchased over $400 in credits believing the women were real… my fault for not reading the fine print,” he said.

Another man claimed to have spent more than US$ 300 (about R$ 1,500) on credits in the false hope of meeting women in person: “they lure you in by saying they live in your city or somewhere close and want to meet you ‘tonight’. You spend credits texting them, and when you want to schedule a date and time, the excuses start,” he says.

Meteor Interactive claims that its Terms and Conditions make it clear that some of its profiles are fictitious and that “there is no match possibility”.

But she doesn’t explain why her Nigerian employees use the map tool to spoof their location. This tool gives greater credibility to the artifice and generates false hopes of a meeting that never happens.

Experts say the activities of these people border on internet fraud, under a Nigerian law that prohibits posting adult or obscene content online. The Cybercrime Act 2015 prohibits:

– sending electronic messages that significantly misrepresent facts

– send messages that are clearly offensive, pornographic, indecent, obscene or threatening

– using bank cards to obtain services fraudulently

A government official stated that the LMS is at risk of being banned in Nigeria if it engages in fraud and adult content.

Orano Rose, from the Surinamese company LMS, told the BBC that he was not doing anything illegal and that he was not aware of Nigeria’s cybercrime law. But since he lives in Suriname, it would be difficult to sue him.

Millions of Nigerians are out of work and a months-long strike by university professors has led many young people to desperately look for jobs. The LMS attracts employees with monthly salaries of up to 150,000 naira (US$355) – double the salary of new teachers – as long as they send at least 500 messages a day to different clients.

Adedamola Yusuf's Twitter feed that reads: 'If you know someone who is unemployed, send the link to this chat moderator job. Payment is 0.03 euros per message sent. I will provide more details below. Job Description: Chat moderators (customer service) needed to respond to a constant stream of daily messages from customers. Required: Excellent knowledge of grammar. Fast typing. Dedication to work and resilience. Willingness for intense work.'
photo caption,

Tweet announcing the role of chat moderator, not to mention the adult content involved

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Abiodun considers his role to be “a small part of a global operation and a minor crime compared to internet fraud”.

“It’s no different than chatting with a loved one or a friend, as millions of people do every day,” he says, as he switches to Gingerhoney’s profile because a message has popped up on his desktop. He is the 50 year old American man asking to meet her.

“Oh sorry, now I need to take my dog ​​for a walk,” Gingerhoney replies. It’s the kind of excuse he’s been trained to use when he has to turn down such requests.

Abiodun closes that flap and opens another, where Erikka, “a pearl that can satisfy your wildest fantasies”, has a message from Sam in London, awaiting an answer.

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The article is in Portuguese

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