New recruits had no idea what the role would involve until they started work, and were told not to discuss the job with friends or family.
Ryan said: “It’s all about stringing them along on tenterhooks with that pretence that eventually they’ll meet up, or just swap telephone numbers.
But as soon as that comes into play you move on; you tell them you’re not going to be on the dating site any longer.
For example, if you use the dating section of the Evening Standard or the Independent, it’s actually Global Personals you’re signing up with.
It’s called “white labelling” – a well-known company can launch a dating website with the company’s branding all over it, but Global Personals runs the back end.
There were loads of cop-outs you could use.” Sometimes, having given an innocent user a brush-off from one fake profile, the pseudo team member would then message them from a different fake account to continue the fake flirting.
“Most people were talking to more than one pseudo,” said Ryan.
Ryan said: “You’d take Helga from Iceland and make her into Helen from Manchester and write a profile.
You’d use her features and invent a whole new person.” Each team member would be running as many as 15 different personalities: old and young, male and female.
Ryan said: “You’re talking about thousands of messages, which means millions of pounds in subscription fees.