How I pretended to be a girl: the realities of working on a Ukrainian dating site

I meet Oleg in front of the cafe. We descend into a cozy hall, sit down at a small table hidden in a corner of the room. We order herbal tea. Oleg is a programmer by profession, graduated from one of the leading universities in Kiev this year. For more than two years he worked on the Ukrainian paid dating site and corresponded with foreigners on behalf of young Ukrainian women. Singing teacher, music channel journalist, model, housewife, student – incomplete list of his online roles. Many have heard the walls of this cafe, but this is probably the first time.

Start

Everything happened on the principle: “A person is shaped by his environment.” I was a fourth-year student, lived in a campus and decided to change the room. In the new apartment, he met the guys who worked in the business. One day I noticed my new neighbors vividly discussing some correspondence. Every now and then you hear the exclamations: “The new letter has come!”

At that time, I already had experience on the Internet: I sat, clicked on sites, increasing their traffic so that the owners “ripped off” from their advertisers more money. For a month, I clicked for about six bucks –   enough to top up my phone or buy a pack of cigarettes.

One day he asked his neighbor who as it turned out was one of the organizers of this business, what they do. One day he inquired about a neighbor who, as it turned out, was one of the organizers of this business, what they do. It turned out they were just writing letters on dating sites and getting paid for it. It was spring, I just wanted to make some money for the summer. This is how I became a “translator” (“official” title of the guy’s position). Agreeing, I realized that I would actually correspond on behalf of a woman.

How the system works

At first glance, it seems like it’s just a dating site. But such portals are not intended for people to find true love. In two years of work, I realized that the goal of these sites is to “shake off” money from wealthy and naive users. For them, all functions are paid: registration, correspondence, chatting, gift exchange. Yes, to write one letter, you need to pay 5 bucks, the next – another 5. About the same amount of registration costs. To put it plainly, everything is 5 bucks.

Each such site has a “affiliate program“. This is a conditional name for how you can reach women. It works like this: there is an organizer or director of an agency whose job is to register as many profiles as possible. To do this, he, in particular, proposes to sign up to all the familiar girls in exchange for a part of the profit. If the girl agrees, she fills out a questionnaire with information about herself and provides the site administration with a copy of her passport to verify that she is a real person. Also, the girl records a video with the words: “I, <full name> voluntarily register my profile on site N”.

Next, the choice is up to the girl. If she wants, she can correspond with clients on her own, if not – translators like me correspond from her profile. From my experience, the majority of registered girls do not need online communication with foreigners, and they choose the second option.

With the consent of the girls, the director may register their profiles on other sites. People don’t even realize how many of these sites exist! I know of at least five, worked for three of them. I will not be mistaken when I say that there are dozens of such sites.

Profit

 Salary depends on the amount of communication. That is, the more I write letters, send presentations or chat, the higher my monthly income will be.

Of the $ 5 a user pays for a message, approximately $ 3.5 is taken by the dating site administration. The rest is shared between the director, translator, and profile owner.

The sites where I worked, the profit was distributed in approximately the following proportion:

  • the agency director receives 40%;
  • translator – 50%;
  • the girl who’s profile was use for the correspondence – 10%.

If the girl corresponds on her own, she gets 60% of the profit.

Can you imagine the amounts you can raise? Specific numbers tend to be kept secret. But I heard that the directors were making a lot of money on this, which allowed them to vacation in Sri Lanka, Egypt, Spain and ride a BMW X-series.

In the beginning, I worked with two profiles at the same time, so my first salary was very modest: only $ 50-60. But then I did not know all the nuances and had no experience. For example, sometimes you can take risks, put pressure on the client, saying, “You do not love me, do not write to me.” However, you should always be careful with this, as the client may complain to the site administration about the blackmail and I will get a fine of 30 bucks.

I don’t remember when my monthly income dropped below $ 100. I managed to earn 800 USD as much as possible, and on the average I could earn up to 500 USD a month.

Communication with clients

The target audience of Ukrainian paid dating sites is mostly male foreigners from 35 years of age. The subject of communication is entirely client-dependent. From my experience, I can split users into two groups:

  • men seeking their sexual needs;
  • men who say, “I love you!” – and say they want to get married.

Now one client constantly confesses in love, invites visit him to America, tells me about his daily life every day. He recently purchased a house where he wants to live with my heroine.

In communication, I adjust to the client. It’s simple: if he writes about some of his fetishes – well, I switch and start writing about sexual fantasies in return. I avoid intimacy until the client starts to expand the subject himself. Although the policy of the sites I worked on, this issue is not clearly spelled out.

It is more difficult when the interlocutor is an intellectual and seeks love of his life. At first, I invented a lot, but now I don’t think much about pseudobiography. After all, fantasy is a finite thing, especially when you work from different profiles and have to live multiple lives. In addition, work in general is quickly becoming tedious. That is why I usually describe my day, adapting it to the personality of my heroine. Like, “Hi, dear! Today I was called for an interview, telling about my work. “

Customers rarely write first. Two or three users wrote me this for two years. There are a lot of profiles of girls, so my job is to get interested, to get a man to talk. After all, it’s a job I get paid for. So I usually start by sending a mass message of the same type like: “Hi, honey! I want to meet you / What brought you to this site? / Who are you looking for here? / Look at my new photoshoot! ” – etc. And I add a photo where the heroine is all so beautiful, walking down the street or swimming in the pool. Like, “Look, look what I am!” Generally, I always write the way I think without thinking about how a woman would write.

“Translators” can work with one or more profiles. In fact, the number of heroines depends on how much time and effort are available. The maximum number of profiles from which I simultaneously corresponded – six. At the moment I only have one profile.

The duration of communication is very relative. There are users who have enough to write out of twenty letters. There are those who send more, but there are very few. An important role is played by the financial capacity of the client. They communicate until they empty their wallet. One time I got a very special client. He wrote about 2000 letters.

Recently, an American invited to Trump’s inauguration wrote. He even sent a photo of the event. Initially, I promised: I will come – we will meet. However, he stopped writing. Very often, clients have seven Fridays a week.

This cherished meeting

 As for the dates, it all depends on whether the girl on whose behalf I am writing agrees to such a meeting. If she does not mind, the meeting can take place. Usually an interpreter or director comes with her: he is fluent in English and can translate as needed.

If a girl does not want to date, then this is how the scenario can develop. John, for example, comes from America or Peter from Britain, goes to Kiev on the Independence Square (Maidan) and writes:
– Dear, I’m here on the Maidan, come out!

– Where are you? I’m on Khreshchatyk, – I ask him.

– I’m near that monument.

– And I’m near the theater.

There is a simulation of a hide-and-seek game until a foreigner realizes that this is all a scam.

The moral component

 I have different attitudes to work. When I write about those who think the only thing is to come to Ukraine and lure a young girl, I feel as if I am protecting Ukrainian women from old foreign perverts (he’s laughing).

But there are also opposite emotions. One of my clients is a former military man abandoned by his wife. He is lonely: writes daily, tells how his day has gone, shares his plans for the future. It’s morally depressing, emotionally draining. Sometimes I feel that my nerves will sooner or later surrender and I will tell you that this is all a lie. Although most people who sign up for a dating site with serious intentions of finding love, sooner or later realize that it is a scam.

Yes, the work itself is partially dishonest. But one must still have at least some conscience and moral principles. For example, I know that one of the organizing guys was short of earnings, so he registered his girlfriend, mother and sister on the site. All three, of course, knew about it. These stories shock me.

Maybe two years ago I was wrong when I went to work as a translator. Yes, I made money. Yes, good money. But instead I could find a normal job and get a good experience, develop new skills, be useful to the community. I regret that I did not quit earlier. The only plus is improved English.

Several friends knew who I was working for. They wondered if there were free profiles and whether they could earn money. I immediately rejected them from this idea. I feel that this has made a good contribution to their future, as both now have a normal job. I’m out of this business right now: enough, it’s over. I want to find a job in a profession that I will not be ashamed to talk about.

At the end of the conversation, we go to the job search site. My interlocutor enters the keywords: “translator” and “marriage agency”, and we find many similar ads: “translator of English into a wedding agency”, “translator, chat operator into a wedding agency”. Oleg looks at them and smiles: he knows what the job description is silent about.

All characters’ names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.
Illustrations by Anastasia Babash
Article by Maria Matyashova