The purpose of this guide is to inform Western men looking for a soul mate in Eastern Europe about the main traps set by scammers. Even though scams exist in the world of international dating, you do not need to be completely paranoid!! There are more sincere and honest girls in Eastern Europe than crooks in search of a mark.
However, there are certain principles to be respected in order to avoid disappointment when seeking your other half in Russia; it's a bit like the rules of the road: If you follow the rules you will not have accidents.
One thing to note: anyone can fall into these traps! Even the most brilliant businessman, men capable of thwarting scams and sniffing out dirty tricks can be fooled like a novice if he is not aware of the tactics used by these scammers: in the field of the sentimental and the lonely, shields can lower to the delight of some dishonest people.
From my experience (I have respectively been employee for a marriage agency in Ukraine, member of an international dating agency, and finally director of Inter-Marriage ) I know perfectly the different "scenarios" developed by scammers to get money from Western men. My tips will help you avoid the pitfalls and disappointments.
Every day I receive thanks from gentlemen who were on the verge of getting ripped off but have foiled the trap laid for them by reading this anti-scam guide. Since the publication of this guide in 2002, thousands of scams that have been avoided thanks to this information!
I will use the word “scammer” in the guide to describe the person with whom you are in contact as your correspondent can either be a woman or a man posing as a woman, or even a criminal conspiracy.
This guide is intended primarily for men who decided to go to free dating clubs or agencies selling Russian girls addresses: these dating sites are the preferred hunting ground of crooks of all kinds because profiles are rarely checked. See the differences between a traditional marriage agency (such as Inter-Marriage) and dating club:
The advantage of this system is that it ensures that the ladies listed in the file really exist! However, it is does not completely eliminate those ladies who have dishonest intentions!
That's why Inter-Marriage is closely related to independent associations which collect the testimonies of people who have been ripped off in order to form a blacklist of fraudsters and unscrupulous agencies: these associations visit my site several times a week and meticulously monitor the profiles of new members.
The disadvantage of this system is that it is very difficult to verify the identity of people registered online: fraudsters are mostly on this type of site because of the relative anonymity they enjoy: the charming Russian 20-year with whom you correspond may well be uncle Boris who sent a photo of a pretty girl from a magazine using an anonymous email address: Note that these fraudsters are only a very small percentage of the total number of ads, don’t get lost in paranoia.
Rule number 1, clearly and effectively, to avoid scammers: NEVER SEND MONEY TO LADIES WITH WHOM YOU ARE IN TOUCH !!!
The serious reputation of my agency is based on this simple principle: I clearly set the tone for ladies wishing to join my agency: none of my members will send the women money, regardless of the reason they have given. I discourage fraudsters, so they prefer to try their luck with other agencies.
Definition of scam: theft by deception.
The various ploys used by the scammer will have only one goal: to bring you to a situation where you need to transfer money to her: usually the scammer will not ask you for the money directly but will solicit financial assistance to help overcome a problem that may affect the success of your relationship: purchasing a visa or plane ticket so she can visit you, renting an apartment if you decide to go to see your correspondent in Russia etc ... this money will generally be requested via a transfer through Western Union, which specializes in international money transfers: the amount is transferred in 1 or 2 days and can never be recovered, even if you paid by credit card.
The scam may be the result of a single person or an organized criminal group who use any means necessary: apartment rental, mobile phones or post boxes, manipulating honest people into handling transfers by claiming the loss of a passport or failure to pay surcharge after too many bank transfer (the person who knows nothing of the scam in progress, receives $ 5 to 10 euros from the scammer). Scammers may as well do a fake casting (example from the scammers checklist)
The contact between the scammer and the victim is via e-mail, usually through a free dating club.
You must first admit this: during the first letters it will be impossible to know whether the person with whom you correspond is honest or criminal. Welcome to the world of virtual relationships!
It is very difficult to detect the trap before the issue of money comes up because scammers have a good knowledge of the psychology of Western men, single or divorced. The letters sent by the scammer will differ from letters sent by a sincere young woman in only one way: you do not realize that it is a scam! Do not trust the pictures that your "sweetheart" sends: they can be purchased at a photo studio, taken from an honest woman, or downloaded from the internet.
You need to be very careful in the following circumstances, even if the signs do not indicate with certainty that you are dealing with a scam artist:
It is almost impossible to detect a scam during the first letters exchanged: at the beginning everything seems perfect, your feelings towards the girl grow quickly. It is only after 3 to 4 letters that some signals should alert you (unfortunately some man are by this point completely "in love" with their correspondent and remain blind to these signals)
If you hesitate to send her money she will reprimand you and will suddenly become very angry and aggressive, saying that actions (read: money transfers) are better than beautiful words.
I will certainly offend many men by saying this but never mind:
If a woman is sincere and really wants to leave her country and her friends to start a family with you then she IS interested in your financial situation. Russian women want to marry a man who can take care of the financial needs of a family. This does not mean that she is looking for a millionaire, but simply a man with a stable job situation to assume the needs of a couple in which the woman can not work for a length of time (the time needed to learn English and to find work if needed).
If your correspondent is not interested at all in your financial situation that does not mean she’s an honest girl: remember that scammers are not trying to have a relationship with you, but rather trying to extract as much money as possible from you in a short time, regardless of whether you have a stable employment situation or not.
Conversely, the fact that the girl wants to know your income in no way indicates that you are in contact with a scammer.
If you want to avoid scams immediately stop corresponding with any girl for whom the transfer of a sum of money (and for whatever reason) is necessary for the continuation of your correspondence: Never send money to your correspondent!! The scammer will quickly figure out you will not play along and will seek easier prey. Simple and effective.
The ultimate solution, from the beginning of your correspondence, is to ensure your correspondent that you can resolve her potential money problems: explain that your only goal is to avoid having her spend inordinate amount of money and it's just a way to take care of her!! This attitude will have a radical effect on the scammers as they quickly realize that you will be an easy mark and that you're not a beginner in foreign correspondence.
Do not fall into the trap of "long-term correspondence" increasingly used by scammers. I know some Western men who had corresponded for over a year with the same girl (the girl had even exchanged several emails with the parents of one of them!) and were thus persuaded that it could not be a scam because the girl had never asked for money: they were sure of themselves and the person with whom they were in contact because time had put to rest their distrust and prudence. The purpose of a scammer is to make you believe that you are in contact with an honest and sincere person and they work very hard for it. You'll even feel guilty and have a bad conscience if you start researching to see if the girl really exists and questioning if she is sincere!! The scammer will have no mercy towards you and will always be very calculating. Do not hesitate to ask your correspondent to send you a picture of herself holding a sheet of paper inscribed with your full name as proof of good faith and her real existence; this is a very simple idea but enough to unnerve the scammers using pictures of models in magazines to make fake profiles of Russian girls (it’s quite difficult for crooks to go to see a top model and ask her to take a picture of her with a sheet of paper in hand !!). However you should know that even if your correspondent complies and sends you this photo, it does not guarantee her honesty, it just can let you know that you have decreased the risk of being ripped off. In fact, this technique of taking a photo with a paper bearing your full name is currently "bypassed" by the scammers as some of them are now paying real girls in exchange for some pictures and a fee based on the amount gained in scams with their “participation” (girls are "paid by commission" in some way).
Dating sites are becoming more cautious about the Russian women: it should be noted that more and more Russian women lie when creating their profile on dating sites: they indicate an address in your country when they live in Russia! The lovely Natalia you suppose to live near to you, in a charming town 5 minutes away (this is indicated in the description) is actually a 5-hour flight from you! Far from discouraging some gentlemen, distance becomes a challenge to overcome and they end up "playing the game” (what they cannot ultimately overcome is the collapse of their bank account once the scam is complete).
Beware dishonest agents selling bogus addresses: on these sites profiles and photos of young Russian girls are totally false. This scenario works because of the amount of addresses sold by the agencies: a bogus address at 10 euros can be sold several hundred times to European and Americans paying by credit card!! The websites of these agencies are sometimes reported and closed by the ISP but they open a few weeks later on another Internet address with a different name and a different look! These agencies are mainly in Russia and Ukraine and use free-hosted websites. These sites share a limited design and provide little information. There are just some photos of beautiful Russian girls and a credit card payment online: it is the famous tactic of "HIT AND RUN": they sell a maximum of addresses in a minimum of time, close the site and disappear, then re-open another site with a different name.
Another sign of a dishonest agency is the fact that after paying, they refuse to give you the postal address of the lady and will provide you only with an email address. This is characteristic of shady agencies riddled with phony profiles. An agency has no reason not to give you the postal address of the lady.
I will now detail the different scenarios and unveil an array of implements to "throw" at a potential scammer. If you have been scammed by a scenario which is not described in this guide please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Scammers are never short of imagination, this is why I regularly update this anti-scam guide.