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Read this report on a fake company that tricked real people into working for it

Read this report on a fake company that tricked real people into working for it

BBC News recently published an investigation into Madbird, a hip design agency led by a charismatic social media influencer named Ali Ayad. But while the company had dozens of real employees around the world, the BBC reports that much of its existence was fake, and tempted real people to work without pay for months, eventually earning money after completing large projects. in the hope of.

It's a remarkable story, not least because the company's founder created the illusion of a successful and successful London-based design agency. Fake employees reportedly bulked up the company's Zoom calls, and the senior employees listed on the company's website didn't work at Madbird at all. Even the photos that the company claimed to be its co-founders appear to be of a beehive maker from Prague:

At least six of the most senior employees profiled by Madbird were bogus. Their identities were stitched together using photos and made-up names stolen from random corners of the Internet. They included Madbird's co-founder, Dave Stanfield - despite he having a LinkedIn profile and Ali referring to him constantly. Some thug employees had also received emails from them. Ali told an employee that he should email him if he wanted to contact Mr Stanfield, as he was too busy with projects to jump on Nike's call.

Using facial recognition technology we were able to match the headshot of Dave Stanfield to its rightful owner – a Prague-based beehive maker named Michal Kalis. When we tracked Michal down, he confirmed that he had never heard of Madbird, Ali Ayad, or Dave Stanfield.

Meanwhile, the address at which Madbird claimed to be a hip London office turned out to be a residential apartment block in west London, and one of the company's pitch documents was allegedly stolen from another London-based design firm. was taken. Even a magazine ad with a photo of the company's founder appears to have been photoshopped.

It's a fascinating story that highlights how it's possible to use our new remote work culture to deceive people. The writing of BBC News is a great read, and the corporation has also produced TV and radio documentaries about the investigation. If you are in the UK, you can listen to radio documentaries on Radio 4 and watch TV documentaries on BBC Three. Meanwhile, people outside the UK will be able to find the audio documentary on World Service Radio stations starting tomorrow and on World News TV from 5 March.

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