TV & Movies

The Tinder Swindler Meets Inventing Anna: Jobfished Exposes High-Profile U.K. Scam

Vulnerable jobseekers were targeted by Ali Ayad.

by Sophie McEvoy
Jobfished's Madbird Design Agency

If you were captivated by The Tinder Swindler, then you definitely need to mark this upcoming BBC Three documentary on your calendar. Led by investigative journalist Catrin Nye, Jobfished explores Madbird — a faux design agency set up during the events of 2020 that scammed people desperate for work. But how was the agency formed, and who was behind it?

Fronted by self-described influencer Ali Ayad, Madbird was a London-based digital design agency that prided itself on being “human-centred” with over 50 employees hired during 2020. Per BBC, the agency offered a variety of roles in sales, design, and supervision, that were all conducted from the homes of its employees. Communicating over email and attending virtual meetings on Zoom, Madbird’s employees were working pretty long hours to meet the demands of Ayad. And as it would soon be revealed, none of Madbird’s employees had been paid.

Per Madbird’s contract, employees had agreed to work on a commission-only basis for the first six months. Following that period, they’d be put on a salary of around £35,000 but this never came to fruition — the same goes for the deals that some employees had been working tirelessly to get signed.

Eventually, the facade began to crumble when one employee discovered that the company’s office address wasn’t an office at all. It was, in fact, a residential block that looked nothing like what was shown on Madbird’s website. Further digging revealed that the work Madbird had boasted about on its site was stolen from other companies across the internet, and that six of the company’s most senior employees weren’t even real.

And despite Ayad claiming that Madbird had been “shipping products and experiences locally and globally for 10 years,” Nye and her team discovered that he’d only registered the agency with Companies House in August 2020. Following a brief response from Ayad, in which he somewhat apologised for what went down, the company and its website disappeared, as did Ayad’s LinkedIn page.

Whilst Madbird and Ayad have seemingly vanished, the former employees that have been left to pick up the pieces. These were people that sought out a job thinking they were being given a great opportunity, only to be conned and taken advantage of during an especially vulnerable time.

Jobfished is available to watch on BBC iPlayer