- Nduka Orjinmo
- BBC News, Abuja
Client is a 50-year-old American male; The attractive young white woman he is chatting with online is Gingerhoney, a model whose profile picture shows her lying on her stomach on her bed.
The user thinks Gingerhoney is nearby, but has no idea that it is actually a man far away in Nigeria.
Men from all over the world, like this one, pay hundreds of dollars on adult websites to chat with what they think are attractive young womenbut it could actually be anyone, the BBC found out.
Months of evidence gathering revealed a global operation behind these fake profiles, from the Netherlands to the US, through Suriname to Nigeria, where strict laws on adult digital conduct may be in violation.
Available 24 hours
Nigerian college student Abiodun (not his real name) is one of many people operating fake profiles on dating websites owned by Dutch firm Meteor Interactive BV.
Abiodun changes profile between dozens of fake accounts he manages on these websites, but each time she pretends to be an attractive young white woman.
On one site, he is Gingerhoney, a 21-year-old model with a pink quilt wrapped suggestively around her waist.
She describes herself as honey and encourages men to call her Ginger, “the same color as my hair.”
Somewhere on Abiodun’s computer is a folder containing several sexy images of Gingerhoney, in case a client requests more erotic photos.
The images, including the profile picture, are stock images taken from various sources.
Abiodun isn’t the only one with access to Gingerhoney’s profile: dozens of other people They manage 24 hours a day in shifts.
The student and his colleagues use an advanced mapping tool to spoof location of Gingerhoney within a 50 km radius of the customer, which is why the profiles match online.
The client has paid for this chat and although he has not said it yet, he hopes to meet you.
Although access to the websites is free, users must subscribe to packages, which cost between US$6 and US$300, to receive or send messages to the “women”.
While younger customers want to physically meet women they think are nearby, older men are often satisfied with sex chats, erotic photos and videos, Abiodun describes.
The aim of Abiodun and others is keep these subscribers on the websites as long as possible with the intention of exhausting their credits.
They are instructed that each message must be at least 150 characters long and have an open conversation.
“It’s like a customer service job, only the customer thinks they’re talking to the CEO,” Abiodun compares to the BBC.
Meteor Interactive BV uses a Surinamese outsourcing company, Logical Moderation Solutions (LMS), founded by a Surinamese named Orano Rose, to recruit and train their Nigerian workers.
The BBC noted evidence on LMS’s WhatsApp, Telegram and Skype accounts that revealed the company had recruited and trained hundreds of people, mainly in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Abuja.
The jobs are advertised on Instagram, Twitter and Telegram, and are aimed at educated and unemployed youth in Nigeria.
Descriptions include “online roles,” “digital marketing jobs,” “chat moderator,” with no mention of the adult content employees have to deal with.
One of the top LMS recruiters, Germany-based Adedamola Yusuf handles job postings on her social media accounts, where she showcases a lifestyle of glitz and glamor with vacations in exotic locations.
“You’re chatting with boring white people. ANDThe work is perfectly legal and licensed in both Germany and Nigeria“, he wrote in a WhatsApp conversation with potential employees on his first day.
Yusuf has been recruiting people for more than two years and in a campaign last November, hundreds of people signed up.
She did not respond to BBC requests for comment.
“Most of these guys from the west want to talk,” a trainer told the new recruits, who have to pass arduous English tests to make their charade as believable as possible.
“It is: Yo soy (‘I am/am’), no A.M (‘I am/I am’),” a recruit corrected me during a training session in the WhatsApp group of the company I attended.
Nicholas Akande, director of LMS in Nigeria, registered more than 100 people in the first week of July and told them that the work was legal.
He did not respond to the BBC when asked for comment.
Recruits also get lessons on the culture, writing style, and trendy conversations at their client locations to sound authentic.
At the end of the training, which can last from a few days to a week, they are provided with login details on the websites, where they can see personal information such as home address, phone number and age of the subscribers. .
The BBC noted comments from men who said that spent between $300 and $700 on these websites hoping to meet the “women” they were chatting with.
“I must have texted 20 women and they always put me off when I suggested we meet in person,” said one man, who claimed he had spent $64.99 on the site owned by Meteor Interactive.
Another said he had “bought over $400 worth of credits believing the women were real…my mistake was not reading the fine print,” he acknowledged.
One user said he had spent over $300 in credits in the false hope of meeting the women in person:
“They hook you up saying they live in your city or nearby and they want to meet you ‘TONIGHT’ you spend credits texting them and when you want to set a place and time to meet, then the excuses start,” he detailed.
Meteor Interactive says that its terms and conditions make it clear that some of its profiles are fictitious and that “the possibility of a meeting is not possible.”
However, it does not explain why his Nigerian workers use the map tool to fake his location.
This tool gives more credibility to the deception and generates false hopes of an encounter that never happens.
Such activities border on internet fraud in Nigeria under a law that prohibits posting obscene or adult content online, experts told the BBC.
The cyber crime law of 2015 prohibits:
• send electronic messages that materially misrepresent the facts
• send messages that are extremely offensive, pornographic, indecent, obscene or threatening
• use a financial card to fraudulently obtain services.
From the government they said that LMS was at risk of being de-registered in Nigeria if it was involved in scams and adult content.
Rose assured the BBC that he was not doing anything illegal and that he was not aware of the cybercrime law in Nigeria. Since he has his base in Suriname, it would be hard to go after him.
Millions of Nigerians are unemployed and coupled with a months-long strike by university professors means many young people are desperately looking for work.
LMS attracts candidates with monthly salaries of up to 150,000 naira (about $355) – twice the income of a newly graduated teacher – who can earn by sending a minimum of 500 messages a day to different clients.
Abiodun sees his role as “a small part of a global operation and a minor offence compared to the fraud that exists on the internet.
“It’s no different than chatting with a loved one or a friend, which millions of people do every day,” he says, switching to Gingerhoney’s profile when a message pops up.
It’s the 50-year-old man in the US asking for a date.
“Oh sorry, I have to walk my dog now,” Gingerhoney replies.
It’s the kind of excuse he’s been trained to use to deflect such requests.
Abiodun closes the tab and opens another where Erikka, “a pearl that can satisfy your wildest fantasies”, has a message waiting from Sam in London.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC News Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.