As COVID-19 quarantines began around the globe, seasoned sex workers and amateurs alike were left floundering and looking for new ways to earn a living.
Many turned to a platform called OnlyFans, which allows content creators to sell nude pictures, videos, and homemade amateur pornographic films. Within months, OnlyFans exploded and became one of the most popular money-making platforms in the world.
Amazon Alexa’s internet ratings calculate that the OnlyFans website is the 222nd most visited site in the entire United States according to global internet traffic and engagement over the past 90 days.
As of April 2020, a researcher put the valuation of OnlyFans “between $810m and $936m.”
Behind this explosion of success, however, an analysis by Forensic News has revealed that OnlyFans is owned by a Ukrainian-American porn entrepreneur named Leonid Radvinsky with a history of lawsuits and allegations of spam, theft, fraud, and drug dealing.
In October 2018, Radvinsky acquired 100% of the shares of Fenix International Limited in London, the parent company of OnlyFans from Tim Stokely, a former Barclays banker, for an undisclosed sum.
Since then, OnlyFans has exploded and become one of the most popular websites on the internet.
Interviews with over two dozen content creators and users of OnlyFans and another large camming website owned by Radvinsky, MyFreeCams, illustrate a decade long laundry list of complaints against Radvinsky, with many losing thousands of dollars.
Other concerns include the uber-popular OnlyFans’ seemingly lax safeguards against possible child exploitation.
Leonid Radvinsky is a Ukrainian-American citizen who is well-known in the online pornography and camming world for nearly two decades. He has operated multiple websites before OnlyFans, the most successful of which appears to be MyFreeCams, which allows sex workers to live-stream pornographic content funded by “tokens” purchased by users of the service.
Radvinsky, based in the Chicago-area, was the defendant in many lawsuits against his companies in the 2000s alleging patent/copyright infringement. The most serious lawsuit he faced came in 2003 and 2004 when Microsoft and Amazon sued Radvinsky and multiple companies under his control for sending “millions of illegal and deceptive e-mail messages to Hotmail customers, including messages that were falsely labeled as coming from Amazon.com.”
Those cases, and numerous others that followed against Radvinsky’s network of companies, were settled outside of court. In most cases, Radvinsky agreed to a permanent injunction, effectively admitting that he will no longer engage in the alleged infringements.
Radvinsky, via his company Cybertania, holds active trademarks for two websites that allow him to provide “on-line electronic bulletin board featuring passwords for other websites and on-line images in the field of adult entertainment.”
Though the websites are currently inactive, archived versions (Warning: Not Safe For Work; Nudity) show that the company offered alleged hacked passwords to pornography websites. “We have the largest number of hacked xxx passwords!” the front page bragged.
Links on the websites directed visitors to both companies owned by Radvinsky, including MyFreeCams, and websites with no apparent connection to Radvinsky.
Radvinsky currently claims to operate a Chicago-based venture capital fund. “We provide funding in all stages and we will consider investments up to $1 million per company,” the website reads, while citing expertise in “web development, data managment [sic], payment services, and online advertising.”
Weeks before Radvinsky purchased the OnlyFans holding company in the United Kingdom, he received a $250,000 tax credit from the state of Illinois. “The purpose of the Angel Investment Tax Credit Program is to attract and encourage the placement of investment dollars into early-stage, innovative companies throughout Illinois.”
Radvinsky did not respond to a detailed list of questions regarding his various business ventures and the allegations contained in this article.
One recurring complaint that Forensic News documented by talking to various users and content creators of both MyFreeCams and OnlyFans was the arbitrary freezing of accounts, which left many without thousands of dollars.
One model who spoke to Forensic News said that she lost thousands when her account was banned without notice.
“One day I had enough [of bad customer support] and told my fans not to tip for a day. Many models were going to join me. Then my account was banned in minutes,” the model who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
“I didn’t break any rules, I never did anything illegal. They also froze my payment and I got no response from them.”
Another issue arose with MyFreeCams when the site forced models to accept payments from a 3rd party bank – based in Belize.
Out of the blue, according to a high-earning model, MyFreeCams stopped making payments and forced the models to use Choice Bank in Belize to receive their earned money.
“One day [MyFreeCams] stopped my wire transfers to my bank without notice and then paid me there [Choice Bank] against my wish. Choice refused to wire the money to my bank after that and then they went bankrupt.”
The model says that she lost $30,000 when MyFreeCams forced her to use the Belize-based bank. “Hundreds of models lost a lot of money, and of course MyFreeCams didn’t care nor did they issue us an apology.”
In 2018, Choice Bank was placed into liquidation by the Central Bank of Belize because of liquidity issues. Many customers never received the money to which they were entitled.
One content creator on MyFreeCams tweeted in April, “@MyFreeCams deleted my account and has frozen over $10,000 USD. That’s outright theft! Boycott MFC!”
Numerous other complaints about MyFreeCams have poured into online consumer review websites such as TrustPilot. Many users levy the same complaints as the models who spoke to Forensic News: theft via the random closure of accounts with no customer service to explain why thousands of dollars were withheld.
Both content creators and consumers on OnlyFans are now beginning to echo the problems that Radvinsky’s MyFreeCams continues to perpetuate.
A recent Sky News report revealed that OnlyFans, which, as previously mentioned is based in the United Kingdom, has avoided paying VAT taxes for over three years.
Users of OnlyFans told Forensic News that they, too, had lost money after their accounts were suddenly frozen.
One former top-earning model on OnlyFans, who went by the name of “goddessmeagan1”, told Forensic News that her account was “taken” by OnlyFans in July with no warning.
The model attempted to withdraw her balance of over $3,300, only for OnlyFans to inform her that her payout request was rejected.
When she filed a complaint with OnlyFans’ support, the company informed her that her account was permanently erased.
“I lost everything,” Meagan said. “I was devastated.”
Another top-earning OnlyFans model who lost thousands is a model who goes by the name of “AlexissTaylorr” on OnlyFans.
Taylor woke up one morning in late May, unable to login to her OnlyFans account. She sent numerous messages to OnlyFans only to receive responses that she described as “generic” and unhelpful. The responses indicated that her account and all data were erased.
OnlyFans eventually sent a substantive response to Taylor, saying that her account was deleted because a customer submitted a claim to their bank that they didn’t authorize a subscription to Taylor’s page. The deletion of her account cost Taylor at least $3,000.
“I didn’t get told about it, didn’t get a warning, just deleted and my money stolen,” Taylor said.
Though OnlyFans said that all information associated with her account was erased, Taylor has been told that her fans can still see private messages from her on the platform.
“It took me so long and lots of hard work to get to where I was to have it all taken from me overnight.”
At least ten other content creators on OnlyFans told Forensic News that they lost money when the company deleted their accounts with no warning. The people did not want to be named on the record due to the very personal nature of their content.
Another model, Alysa Higgins, said it took a threat of a lawsuit for OnlyFans to refund $18,000 after an unauthorized user gained access to her account and withdrew the money to bank accounts held at KeyBank.
Higgins filed a police report regarding the apparent hack with her local police department in North Royalton, Ohio, and had plans to bring her information to the FBI.
In a statement to Forensic News, the North Royalton Police Department said they are currently investigating the incident.
In addition to content creators for OnlyFans, users, or “fans,” on the platform reported similar grievances.
A user of OnlyFans, who spoke to Forensic News on condition of anonymity as to not interfere with his work life, said that he lost a large amount of money when his credit card was used to subscribe to OnlyFans models without his consent.
“OnlyFans scammed me out of money by making me ‘subscribe’ to a user that I had no intention of subscribing to. Then I asked support to request a refund, only for them to say we don’t offer refunds under any circumstances,’” he said.
“I was charged over $500 for subscriptions that I had no interest in subscribing to.”
The alleged additional subscriptions made by the man occurred from a device not located in his country. From this, he surmised that his account had been compromised. One log-in was from the United Kingdom.
The user was forced to deal with his bank, which eventually refunded the extra charges. His account with OnlyFans remained banned.
As with MyFreeCams, a plethora of negative reviews about OnlyFans have poured into TrustPilot and a similar service called SiteJabber.
“Was scammed out of $600 from onlyfans.com from IL,” one user commented. “Went to go log into my only fans account and I wasn’t able to saying that user was not found.”
Another user wrote, “I subscribed to ONE account for $5.50/month. I unsubscribed before the month was up. 38 days later I was renewed TEN TIMES on the SAME DAY for $10, $20, or $25 apiece totaling $210! Their ‘customer service’ is a total joke and gives you the complete runaround.”
Law enforcement agencies in the UK and Chicago where OnlyFans and Radvinsky are located respectively declined to comment when asked if there are investigations into alleged wrongdoing.
Forensic News investigation into OnlyFans
Sapur (@rupas) has been an OnlyFans content creator for a little over 6 months. She joined in February of 2020, along with millions of other creators, as the site peaked in popularity.
In an interview with Forensic News, she stated part of the process for creating a content account included 18+ identification by providing tax documents and copies of licenses or some other form of ID.
To test the privacy concerns regarding OnlyFans, Forensic News signed up for an account with OnlyFans using a throwaway email account with ProtonMail and made a post on the platform.
Not once were we asked to show any identification proving that the account belonged to someone over the age of 18.
The third party is not identified.
Among the data shared with the third party, according to OnlyFans, is
- your full name;
- your date of birth;
- your (passport or other identification document number);
- your address;
- your selfie photo.
Forensic News was not prompted to provide a selfie photo or any identifying information.
OnlyFans is notorious for being an interface for amateur porn, and studies have shown that explicit photos and videos of minors are being shared on the platform. The lack of identification concerns content creators and content consumers alike.
“I am 19 and, even though I am legal, I still feel like the culture of young women being sexualized by older men is done in such a predatory way. It is not safe for young women to put themselves out there. There is a fine line between being sex-positive and body-positive and we need to be aware of how that line could be manipulated and used as an excuse to play into pedophilia,” Sapur said.
While she hasn’t personally experienced anything particularly exploitative on OnlyFans, she is hyper-aware that she is not yet out of her teens and recognizes how her age plays to her favor.
“Pedophilia is a culture that we have grown up in. When we romanticize daddy issues, I know I sound odd, but at a certain point, we are playing into the patriarchy,” Sapur said. “Being sexually liberated has nothing to do with being promiscuous and everything to do with sex being what it means for you. It is really hard to stand by that without being called a prude. It is a double-edged sword. Especially with social media and the normalcy of posting nudes online. Understand that there are so many people who want to exploit that.”
“If you are interested in entering sex work, it is important to do whatever makes you comfortable. If it becomes uncomfortable, stop,” Sapur warned. Just be safe. Keep yourself safe.”
Despite watermarking the content, OnlyFans allows for screenshotting, making it easy for content to be stolen. Holes in content creators’ security, underage or not, is dangerous because not every creator is open and public about their work. Furthermore, exposing a creator without their consent is an incredible breach of trust between the subscriber and the creator.
Within days of signing up for an OnlyFans account using the throwaway email, one of our staff writers received an email to her personal Gmail account, though her name nor the email address were ever provided to the company.
The email contained a one-time access code addressed to an account named ChevyCaldwell to complete an email update.
The email gave the Forensic News staff writer access to an account that was not hers.
The suggested fix was to ignore the email or contact OnlyFans’ support. After contacting the OnlyFans’ support email address, the company advised Forensic News to be more explicit in the complaint and a staff member would reach out shortly.
An OnlyFans representative reached out in a timely manner and confirmed that the email address had either been deleted or the account had been suspended.
To add to the list of disgruntled models, “xoxgoldenfox” was a model on Radvinsky’s MyFreeCams who got fired from the platform for “threats of violence” on Twitter against another cam girl. She claims these allegations were false.
What makes “xoxgoldenfox” unique, however, is her close ties to Radvinsky and his friend, Russian-born photographer Alex Goykhman.
She opened up to Forensic News about an incident she and her friend experienced at a New York penthouse.
The model attests she is a first-hand witness to them supplying drugs and discussing the importation of drugs into the United States.
“I saw a bag of cocaine in the bathroom,” “xoxgoldenfox” said. “So we…finish getting ready, and go downstairs. I told them we [saw] some of the coke that was in the bathroom.”
“They both froze and questioned what bag it was in. I confirmed the bag was blue and asked why. They looked freaked out and told me they hadn’t tried it yet, “xoxgoldenfox” said.
“They proceeded to tell us the story about how they actually got that cocaine overseas,” “xoxgoldenfox” told Forensic News.
“I swear on every single dollar I have saved in my bank account that’s the true story.”
Goykhman would frequently supply the models cocaine according to “Xoxgoldenfox,” though she confirms she only saw Radvinsky do cocaine once.
Goykhman did not respond to a request for comment.
As OnlyFans continues to thrive publicly with celebrities like Cardi B joining the platform, behind the scenes, content creators are sounding the alarm about a pattern of illegality and exploitation.
The background of OnlyFans’ enigmatic owner Leonid Radvinsky adds to the intrigue surrounding the new near billion-dollar company.