Ekaterina Elbahey (she usually calles herself ‚Kate‘) runs an online dating plattform her website best-matchmaking.com with women from Ukraine and Belarus. Here I describe the scams I have experienced and discovered with Best-Matchmaking. I met a woman in Ukrain and have testified my experience in the form of a detailed diary. I am a man and Best-Matchmaking obviously deals differently with women. I can only tell my male perspective.
Fraudulent Concealed Commission
It is usual in the online dating industry to let customers register for free. Best-Matchmaking even provides 4 letters for free before you have to pay the monthly membership fee of 199 Euros. The actual trap of hidden costs snaps when a man and a woman get to know each other better and want to meet in person.
To meet women in Ukraine Best-Matchmaking offers expensive so called Romantic Tours, starting from 2100 Euros. If you do not want this package, Kate charge you a commission. Kate asked me for more than 1000 Euro to meet one woman.
On best-matchmaking.com there is no word about a commission. Also there is no indication you need to book their tour to meet a woman. Instead it looks like you could even invite a woman to your country.
At Pricing there is only one price mentioned at all: 199 Euros for the monthly membership fee.
Obviously, the agency conceals the practice of claiming a commission as long as possible. Only after you fall in love, the commission pops up. I received Kate’s claim the very morning I left for the Ukraine. Obviously, the agency exploits the plight of having fallen in love already with the woman waiting for you and possibly being on your journey already. This is called price gauging.
Surveilance and Manipulation of Communications
After paying the commission and meeting the woman, the fraud continues. The communication is controlled and manipulated from the beginning, however.
As long as the agency expected me looking for somebody on her dating plattform, I got messages from women. Once even 3 messages within 2 minutes. From the moment I had choosen Maria (name changed) and got not a single message from other women until I had been back to Germany for 10 days and Maria had left Best-Matchmaking. Now again I am getting messages.
The messages I sent to Maria on the dating plattform were communmicated to her by phone in Russian language and her answer were keyed into an English message to my by the agency’s translator. In this process the agency easily can drop details and could even write the message without consulting the woman. At least, the agency put massive pressure on Maria to urge me buying the agency’s Romantic Tour (see above).
While in the Ukraine, all meetings where arranged by the agency’s interpreter. This way, she prevented us to meet without her. They arrived together and left together. Always using the same car and driver. My attemts to overcome this pattern where obstructed by various excuses. If needed, Maria got sick. They even made used COVID-19 to spread fear.
The translation of the interpreter was poor. For a long time, I believed our communication got stuck because of this. Afterwards I assume manipulation was involved. Anyhow, our conversation by her translation remained in a vague state for days, while I could not deepen anything concerning our future or relationship.
Fake Phone Number
On our first date, me and Maria, we exchanged our phone numbers, at least I thought so. Actually, I got the number the agency’s phone which they lent Maria for our meetings. The agency kept my number.
Later, we communicated via the Viber instant messanger. From a PC the agency can access their Viber account. This way the agency can monitor and manipulate all conversations.
The German FAQ page reads very different:
Original in German:
Unsere Kontakt-Austauschpolitik:Die Kontaktinformationen einer Frau werden einem männlichen Kunden mitgeteilt, wenn die Frau es (sic!) zustimmt, über Ihre Hintergrundinformationen informiert wird, und die Weiterleitung ihrer persönlichen Informationen an Sie genehmigt. (…)
Our Contact exchange Policy:A woman’s contact information is shared with a male client, if the woman agrees, get informed about your background information and approves the forwarding of her personal information. (…)
According to this quote, the agancy would help to exchange contact data. In fact, the agency prevented it.
Confusion and Smokescreens
To conduct the scams above, the agency need to put some efforts at persuation. To keep the fraud concealed, the agency creates confusion and puts up smokescreens.
I mentiond above how the agency wraps up the commission into an overpriced tour package. The next smokescreen is Kate’s Matchmaking Service. This service is an individually tailored package where the agency looks for potential matches for you and you do not need to search yourself on the online dating plattform. Kate argues everyone not on this matchmaking service would need to pay commission. This is absurd. Commission is usually paid for exacly this: the matchmaking service. On the cotrary online dating means the users are doing the matching themselves. Kate names her Matchmaking Service confusingly similar to the agency’s name. And the terms and wording is again and again confused all over the website.
Moreover, the agency’s interpreter suggested to work directly for me and bypassing the agency, making it cheaper for me. In doing so she contradicted herself with finally four competting prices: 15, 20, 25 and 30 Euros per hour of interpretation service. The claimed bypassing the agency has just one goal: To shuffle the agency out of responsibility. The interpreter always followed the same put-up skript, no matter how I paid her.
Finally best-matchmaking.com is full of contradictive statements, about the agency’s offices, policies, services, phone numbers and so on. It is a big smokescreen. Even the above quoted contact excange policy faces several competing statements scattered around the website.
Intimidation by Misinformation
I asked myself: Why would a woman take part in all this? Does the agency pay her? It is possible. My impression, however, is different:
Amost all women on best-matchmaking.com are from Russian-speaking countries. But the website just has English, German and Japanese. The women are taken care of by the agency directly. This way one can tell them anything. Not only the women probably don’t know the website and its conditions, the agency could tell them anything about the man and his relation to the agency.
But the entanglement starts earlier. Maria, for example, was told she could not tell she is smoking on her profile. While we met she could not smoke and the agency did know her secret. Further on, the agency made her not speaking English with me at all. Therefore, I did not even try to talk directly to her, or call her by phone. Even though Maria’s profile states her basic command of English, Kate told me she „speaks no English“. Later I found it is wrong.
Once I wanted to visit Maria, the agency told her, I would have disappeared. And further more, they told her it would be against their rules to meet without the agency. Once we met, the interpreter translated (?) to me, Maria would be friends with her and Maria would not talk to me by any other interpreter.
Once a woman gets involved in any cheating, she is caught in a maze of dependencies. If she stops following the agency, she can get kicked out of the agency and the involved man might leave her as well.
How about others?
This is the scam as I have experienced it. Of course, it can be different with other men and women.
Please tell me. I would like to share and publish other views as well. This way we can draw a general picture. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.