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Russian Dating scam or Russian scammers ?
We provide the background check on Russian or Ukrainian woman, including scam check and personal identity verification.
You can find a lot information about Russian dating scam artists in the Internet, we recommend the following websites:
What is a SCAM ?
A scam is the consequences of acts undertaken by a dishonest person whose sole aim is to steal your money.
So all means and different tactics that scammers use will eventually lead to a situation where you are to give some amount of money to the dubious person. The possible reasons for the money transfer can vary, from payment for email or buying ticket to visit You, to renting apartments for your future visit or paying for urgent operation for "her child". Usually you will be asked to transfer some amount via Western Union - the organization that provides cash transfers to any country in the world and money can be picked up immediately. The transferred amount cannot be refunded, even if you paid by credit card. A scam may be performed by a loner or group of well organized criminals. He/they may rent apartments, mobile phones and postal boxes solely for the aim of scams, as well as use innocent people to receive money transfers, giving them a false reason why they cannot receive the transfer themselves (lost passport, he already received too many transfers that can cause tax problems, etc). The innocent person usually does not know anything about the real situation, and also may not know the scammer well (i.e. does not know his full name and address). The scammer may give $10-50 to the receiver for her troubles, saying that the money came from his business partner or a relative.
How to detect a SCAM ?
There are some definite red flags but normally you won't be able to say for sure it is a SCAM before the money matters arise. You will never be able to say if the letter you received from a pretty lady is genuine or if it is a scam. Scam letters are different from genuine letters only in one feature: you will never think it is a scam! Scam letters are composed by people whose best knowledge is people's psychology, particularly the men's psychology. You will bet your finger that the letter is genuine, but it may turn out to be not. You will think that a woman from the picture cannot be a scammer because her face is the face of a decent honest person, and probably the woman on the picture really is. But scammers rarely use their own pictures! They take any picture of a beautiful Russian (or even not Russian) female, better a set of pictures, and use them for their dubious purposes. They buy photos from photo studios, or an innocent woman may be invited for a "photo probe" and she will not even know that her photos are used in this way. Another way is downloading photos from the Internet, scanning from magazines or asking relatives/friends for their younger pictures. (As you can expect, the person from the photos has no idea what her photos are used for - would YOU give your photos to somebody knowing he is going to use it for a crime?) So leave your talents of physiognomist to real world meetings, and accept the realities of a virtual relationship.
The red flags are following:
The "woman" falls in love with you very quickly, within 3-5 letters;
A new picture (more and more provocative) is sent with every letter;
She talks a lot about issues of honesty and trust;
She does not answer your questions, or answers are not included in the main text of the letter - seems as though somebody just added them to a letter that was prewritten (you might think it's because of the language barrier).
Letters arrive regularly; often the same time of the day, every day or 5 days a week;
She wants to meet you as soon as possible to "prove" her love to you, and the best option is her visiting you; she has a way of getting a visa to your country without any problem, and it covers even USA and Canada where to get a visa for a single Russian female is virtually impossible (usually with the help of relatives or University);
She draws attractive pictures of what you two can do when you meet... very romantic!
If you hesitate or try to do things in your way, she becomes very upset/angry, and claims that if you don't trust her it's better not to meet/correspond at all and end the relationship. The common phrase used by scammers is "Your acts tell more than your words". Those are DEFINITE red flags, and if your situation develops like this, forget about this "woman". Some men told me that they cannot forget the woman and will go on, getting her or breaking their hearts. They forget the fact that in reality THEY ARE NOT IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WOMAN. They are corresponding with a criminal whose sole aim is to rip them off. All is false - pictures, letters, words and feelings. If your correspondent behaves in such a way, IT IS NOT A REAL WOMAN. It is a scammer!!! There are some corresponding danger signs that you should also watch out for.
Those signs do not make the picture on their own but often accompany scams:
The woman is VERY attractive and younger than you;
She is surprisingly mature and all she wants from life is a happy family and children;
she is not interested in things that are typical for her age like discos, parties, dancing, fashion, night clubs, career, and of course she is not interested in your money;
She is usually a student or has a very modest income; she is seldom a professional or business owner, she is never successful and does not live well even according to the Russian standards;
She is frequently using words such as 'dear', 'lovely' along with your name or without it throughout the letters, sometimes in every second sentence. She does not have children and has never been married. "Light" scammers may list 1 child under 10 years old; but it is very unusual.
There is something miserable about her situation that makes you feel sorry for her (her father left them when she was a baby and her mother struggled to bring her up; her mother/child is very sick; she had to move to a strange city where she does not have friends, her parents are dead, etc).
As I said, those signs do not indicate with confidence that you are entering a scam, and not all of them will appear in a scam. If a woman is genuine, she IS interested in your financial situation (she must care about whether you are able to provide for a family), but she also will not ask directly. Instead, she may ask something about your work or where you live/what type of house you have, but it is also not necessary. Disinterest in your money matters does not mean anything, as well as interest in it is not a bad sign. An attractive young woman may be interested in you because you are successful and have a strong personality, and it does not necessary mean a scammer. She may happen to be a student, too. So it is virtually impossible to detect a scam in the very beginning. In the beginning everything looks fine, and when you start feeling something towards a woman, you tend to misinterpret the slight danger signs, or even close your eyes to the fact that you may be scammed.
Typical SCAM situations :
I can describe dozens of situations how a scam can go on, and there are even a few ways where you would never guess it was a scam. Here are the typical situations that may develop with slight variations. Let's start from the more prominent cases and finish with the subtle ones. Situation 1 (most typical!) You posted your profile to a personals site, you did not look for a Russian woman, just a mate. Suddenly a young attractive Russian female contacts you (asking to write to her on her "personal email address", not through the dating site), and you become closer and closer as correspondence develops. Most often in the beginning of correspondence she will ask you to write to a different email address again, because the old one worked badly or any other problem (doing this scammers separate the men who "took the bait" from the ones who did not - according to a personals site, scammers contact 3000 (!) men a day). You find her not only attractive but intelligent and smart, she is also very sweet, caring and giving. You start developing feelings for her. She quickly falls in love with you, you are so different from the men of her homeland. They are cruel, selfish, unfaithful, addicted to alcohol and all they want from her is sex. She has never in her life met such an attentive and understanding man like you. It is the hand of Providence that brought you together, and you two are made for each other. She is very confident in her feelings and all she wants is to meet you in person and love you for the rest of her life. You may feel confused, but such a strong feeling from a young beautiful lady flatters you. You like her though you are not so sure about your feelings. You would not go to through all the trouble to travel to Russia to meet her, but she is eager to come herself, so... So what? Why not? It would be nice to have such a pretty girl here! She can receive a visa with the help of travel agency (her relative works in Embassy, she works in a travel agency, she can arrive on student visa on the student exchange program etc), it only requires payment of $350 ($240, $315 etc). Not a lot of money, after all! So you hesitate a little bit but eventually send it. In a few days she's got her visa, now she needs money to buy a ticket. Most often she can get discount airfare (her relative/friend/herself works in a travel agency/airport/air company). All you need to do is just transfer her $700-1500. Once you sent her some money for the visa, you feel it would be stupid to pull out now, and you send money for tickets, too. (Or she may request money for visa and ticket together, then the amount is likely to be more because she is not doing it herself but with the help of an "agency" - up to $2000-3000.) After you have sent the requested amounts, you never hear from her again. If you do not send the money, she will try to persuade you for a while, but eventually will also disappear. Lately scammers developed a new variant: she needs additional money to show at customs that she will be able to support herself during her stay; she needs money for medical insurance or they will not let her on the plane; her grandmother gets very sick and she needs money for the operation, it's why she has to delay her trip to you; or she was using a car of her friend and bumped another car badly and needs to pay both the owner of the car and the victim of the accident - does not matter what is the reason for additional money request (s), but she needs some additional money to fix the situation. The scammer continues to ask for more and more money until you say you are not going to send any more money, then she says you betrayed her and broke her heart, and you just like all the other men, she trusted you and cannot believe you were able to do it to her, etc etc... So you wonder who is the bad one until you find exactly the same story happened to somebody else. (Variant: she had been mugged in Moscow, and is about to die; her mother/father/aunt/friend contacts you to explain the situation. Here you feel you were the reason for her travel and (possible) death, and in deep depression you grieve for years... Variant: she already has the tickets so she says she will anyway come to your country and will find your home and look at you from the distance and cry... I think the variants are endless.) They develop the endings like this so you never think you have been scammed. Even though scammers use many different variations, this situation is easily recognizable. The common features are: The contact is unsolicited - she wrote to you first. The content of her letters to you does not relate to what you write in your letters - no matter what you write, she does not discuss the same topic in length. Your questions are seldom answered; if they ARE answered, it is in the beginning or the end of her letter and the answer is not detailed and is not connected to the contents of the letters itself. Her letters often include some sad stories that shake your emotions and make you vulnerable. Those letters are PREWRITTEN and could be addressed to anybody. A new photo is sent with every letter, at least for the first 5-6 letters. Photos become more and more revealing close to a money request. Letters arrive regularly; may be the same time of the day, every day or 5 days a week (Monday-Friday); there is a certain pattern when they arrive to your mailbox. The woman expresses her unconditional love to you; no matter if you are hesitating, say that you cannot return her feelings as yet, try to discourage her because of your age difference, say you are married, don't have much money, etc, etc - she is not put off by anything. Often the scammer starts describing her sexual dreams about you, sending you poems (in English), cannot stop talking about her love - even if you say nothing encouraging. She does not care how much money do you make, she just loves you no matter what. She does not have any doubts about her love to you. She wants to come and visit you in your country; she says she cannot wait to see you, she cannot live without you; often this will be written in all capital letters and with many exclamation marks. She wants you to send her money for visa and/or tickets and/or insurance and /or "pocket money" to show to customs (to prove she is not going to start illegally working while in your country and can support herself during her stay). She does not want you to visit her, even if you express such a desire, she only wants the money to be sent by a wire transfer (Western Union or Money Gram), she does not want you to send her air ticket saying that this should be only purchased through the agency she is working her visa through. She has a way of getting a guaranteed visitor's visa to the countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and European Union. Often scammers say they have already invested their own money in the visa process, or that they will pay the most part of the ticket/visa/insurance fees, you only need to send a part of the money. The source of the money may be selling sentimental articles, parents give her money they saved for her wedding etc, etc - this all is only said to make you feel guilty if you do not send the rest of the money. In some cases, you will be sent a voice file with the email, where she does not call you on the name but says how much she loves you and wants to be with you. In some cases, you can be presented with a fake copy of the visa, itinerary of her flight, scanned copies of documents etc, etc - which seem to be legitimate. (Confirming the legitimacy of such a document is as easy as contacting the authority that supposedly issued it - i.e. the Embassy of your country.) In some cases, the scammer calls you on the phone, usually it will be at night and the call will be under 1 minute long (because it is "too expensive" for her) but "she wanted to hear your voice"; other cases may be where a scammer calls crying to announce a sudden urgent money request from authorities (insurance, pocket money, customs etc).
ALL THOSE SIGNS INDICATE SCAM ! ! ! There is NO WAY this contact is real !
Here You can order the full version of Russian anti-scam guide.
The original of the following great article you can find on http://www.russian-detective.com/scams/first_things_to_know.htm.
Basically, it is a scam where a lonely foreign man gets acquainted over the Internet with an attractive female from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc . Whoever is behind the scam will try to get as much money out of the unsuspecting foreigner as possible.
Most scammers ask money for one or more of the following:
- passport, visa, tickets, "travel insurance"
- emergency medical expenses for the girl or her relatives (illness, car accident, death in the family)
- internet cafe / marriage agency expenses
- car accidents (the girl borrowed a car and wrecked it), apartment expenses (rent, repairs)
- presents for herself and her family at holiday times
- luxury items (cell phones, clothes, etc)
Sometimes men are being asked to cash a check for the girl (watch out for that one, the checks will bounce!), to open or fund an Ebay account for the girl, to disclose their bank account or credit card information.
Phase #1. Approaching the victim
Scammer (be it a man or a woman) finds a set of pictures of an attractive girl 18-45 years old (or, if the scammer IS an attractive girl, she uses her own pictures) and places personal ads in as many international dating catalogs as possible. Below are examples of photos, often used by scammers:
Alot scammers actively seek out new potential victims rather than wait for the victims to come to them. Most often scammers use Yahoo Personals or similar big online dating web sites to approach their potential victims. Often their profiles on Yahoo and Match.com indicate that they are from the USA (that is because those sites no longer accept subscribers from Russia). WARNING! if a lady from Russia contacts you first on a large dating site, it's a big red flag!
Phase 2: Building the trust and seducing the victim
After a while the letters from single men from all over the world start arriving. The scammer replies positively to all of them and the process begins.
Since a lot of letters need to be answered, the scammer usually does not have the ability to answer all of them individually. Therefore a standard set of letters exists and the scammer typically uses these pre-written letters to correspond with all potential victims.
As a results of using the sets of pre-written letters, scammers tend to ignore questions posted to them, write about the same thing twice, answer questions only at the very beginning or at the very end of each letter, etc.
on the other hand, some scammers do not use prewritten letters and do answer each potential victim individually. They either learned that prewritten letters do not fly anymore, or they do not have that many people writing to them. Some of them choose to work only 1 or 2 potential victims a month to maintain the quality of communication process.
In his/her letters, the scammer is usually very flattering, romantic and seductive. The scammer explains to each potential victim that he/she feels "something special" about him. Almost all scammers tell their victims that "this the the first time she uses the internet to get aquatinted with a man".
To speed up the process the scammer "falls in love" with each of the potential victims literally within two to six weeks. Sometimes at the same time many scammers would announce that their yearly vacation time (usually 2 weeks) is coming up.
UPDATE: Recently we have seen several scammer using a set-up sob story about them having a previous American boyfriend who invited them to the USA but refused to pay their tickets, so the scammer paid her own money for the tickets but the boyfriend decided he didn't want her after all so now she/he is broke because the purchase of the tickets depleted her/him of all her/his savings.
A common theme amount the "set up" letters of this phase are:
the scammer talks about her experience with other men, and how they betrayed her in one way or another
the scammer talks about unconditional trust and emphasizes her honesty
the scammer talks about her friend who married a guy from another country and how happy they are together
the scammer starts to call the guy "my love", "my prince", "my sunshine", "my best friend", "my future husband", etc
the scammers starts to sign her letters "your princess", "your love", "your future wife", etc. Lots of kisses and hugs are given at the end of each letter.
the letters become intensely long, flowery and romantic
some romantic poems may be inserted in the letters (see example)
the scammer tells the victim that she is daydreaming a lot, and her friends tease her about it
the scammer "discussed" her new "love" with her mother, or father, or grandparent, or best friend, and receives their blessing and approval (see example).
the scammer tell the victim that she is experiencing sexual dreams about him (see example)
her pictures become very seductive (see example of "set up" letters with pictures: example#1, example#2, example#3, example#4)
the scammer tells the victim that she can't sleep at night because she thinks so much about him and their meeting
she tells the victim that her desire to see the object of her "love" is so strong, that it is overwhelming to her. The scammers even sometimes write, "I can't live with you, I can't breathe without you, seeing you is necessary to me to live".
the words "I LOVE YOU" appear in capital letters, sometimes repeated 6-10 times with a zillion of exclamation points
the scammer will tell the victim about her dreams of their first meeting (usually in the airport, when SHE arrives to the guy)
Phase 3: Asking for money
Once the fact that the scammer is "deeply in love" is well established, the scammer begins the real preparation. She becomes extremely eager to meet in person, so she decides to find out what her options are as far as visas and travel fare.
The scammer will "announce the good news" (that she found out how to obtain the visa) in one of the letters shortly after explaining her undying love. She will tell that she has found out everything she needs to do to receive a tourist (work, student) visa. She will be all bubbly and excited about the opportunity. She will explain in detail how much it will cost to get the visa and the tickets, and how to send the necessary amount to get things going.
At first, most scammers start with a small amount - $350-$500 for the visa. Some scammers also ask for "hotel" money for their hotel "accommodations" in Moscow while they are filing for their visa with the US Embassy. Some scammers offer to pay for visa themselves (as a "good faith" gesture)
After the "visa" is received, the scammer asks for money to buy plane tickets - usually around $700-$1800.
Some scammers also offer to pay for the tickets themselves. Often they discover than the tickets cost more than they can afford, so they offer the victim to "split" the costs
Many scammers claim that they used up all the lifesavings, and then some, to pay for visa and part of the tickets, but it was not enough so they need just a "small amount" to help them out.
some scammers claim that they went ahead and entered a legal bounding contract with a travel agency and now they HAVE to come up with the necessary amount for the tickets other wise the travel agency will "put them in prison" [no, it is not true. I have not heard of any Russian travel agencies putting their clients in prison yet]
Very often the money request letters are supplemented with her most seductive pictures. (see example of such letters with pictures: example#1, example#2, example#3, example#4)
Most often, the scammer suggest going through a travel agency that can arrange everything because they "have good contacts in the Embassy". If the victim offers to buy tickets for her online, the scammer will insist on using the agency.
At this point, many victims receive an email or even a phone call from the "travel agent". The email will detail the prices and the payment instructions. Usually the indication is that the visa is guaranteed if bought through that agency (which is of course not true because only the Embassy decides which visas are going to be approved). Some of those so-called "travel agencies" even have legit-looking web sites. Of course, the "agencies" are just fake web sites that will become inactive once the scam is complete. See example.
In many cases, by some wonderful coincidence the scammer's mother (father/brother/uncle/best friend) is working in a travel agency or airport. Of course obtaining the visa and tickets for the flight through them would be a natural suggestion. Or the same mother or father is working in a university and can put her in a student exchange group, or something like that.
If the victim is doubtful or expresses concerns about possibility of a scam, the scammer can call the victim on a phone to express her love and sometimes to press emotional buttons through a personal conversation.
FYI: American tourist visa CANNOT be obtained through a travel agency in 99.99% of the cases. Also, a single young girl from ex-Soviet Union CANNOT obtain a US tourist visa under usual circumstances. UK and Australian tourist visas are not easy to obtain either. Please contact your Embassy with questions about visa requirements.
"MONEY LAUNDERING TWIST": If the victim does not have the money, or is too hesitant to send the money to the scammer, the scammer may tell the victim that she (or her brother / friend / co-worker) has some business in the USA and has some personal checks that need to be cashed. The scammer suggests to the victim that she would mail the checks to him, he would cash it for her and send the money back to her via Western Union. If the victim complies, the checks will bounce, but the scammer will be long-gone with the money from western Union transfer. See example
"CREDIT CARD BALANCE TRANSFER TWIST": Alternatively, the scammer may suggest that you give her your credit card information, and she will arrange money to be transferred to your credit card. DO NOT give her any credit card or bank account information!!!
Most scammers indicate to the victim, that a Tourist Visa is the best way to travel to the victim's country and that obtaining that visa would take about 5-15 days. While for some countries it may be true, it is certainly not true for the United States of America. Please check with your Embassy for visa requirements before agreeing to assist anyone with the visa!
Some scammers claim they can come on a student or work visa. Though there have been girls who were able to obtain student and tourist visas, I would suggest you still steer clear from these offers as well. The chances that she can obtain such a visa are minimal, but the risks that you are being set up for a scam are huge.
We have seen at least one case when a scammer indicated to the victim that she could obtain a US fianc?e visa. The tricky scammer knew that the fianc?e visa is the only way she could arrive to the US for future marriage, so she told the victim that it is is the visa she is going to apply for. The rest of the scam was the same as for the usual "travel visa" scam.
THE GUILT TRAP: Recently it is becoming a new trend among scammers to "volunteer" to pay for the documents and travel expenses themselves. They will often explain that they have pawned their grandmother's or mother's jewelry, among other valuables. However, sooner or later the scammer will "reluctantly" admit her "financial difficulties" to the victim and ask for money to be sent to her or to a "travel agency" of her choice. The victim in this situation feels pressed to send the money.
If the victim takes the bait and sends the requested amount, the scammer may send them their travel itinerary, flight numbers, etc. Some scammers will also send a scanned picture of their "visa" or "tickets". We have seen many fake visas used in scams. Some of them are of a so-so quality, but some of them are of a perfect quality and even we couldn't tell if it was fake.
At this phase of the scam, alot of victims receive numerous phone calls from the scammers.
FYI: the best way to check whether the visa is valid is to contact the Embassy that supposedly issued that visa.
Phase 4: Milking the victim for money for as long as possible
Once the tickets and the visa are bought, the scammer will wait for a few days. During that time she will tell the victim more and more about her love, her obsession with their first meeting and her plans to marry him.
After a few days of joy and excitement the scammer brings some "bad news". She found out that she would need a travel insurance ("free money") to be able to enter the country! $1500, $2500 or even more is required to show at the airport (or at her interview at the Embassy) as a "proof" that the girl has "enough money to travel or to return home". Of course, the scammer "did not count" on this expense so the joyful mood is quickly changed to one of desperation and sadness. The scammer turns, once again, to the guy for financial help, promising him that the "insurance" money will only be needed to go through the airport, and once they meet she would return that money to him right away. The victim, who already paid once, is likely to agree to pay for the insurance.
FYI: there is no such thing as a "cash travel insurance". Nobody requires the travelers to have a certain amount of cash on them when they exit the country.
After all possible preparations are done, the "tickets" and the "insurance" are "paid" for, and the scammer already pocketed $1000-$3500, things may go one of two ways.
The scammer is most likely to try to continue "milking" the victim for additional amounts. For example, she can sadly announce that
something terrible happened with the money (the money got stolen from her purse at work, in some public transportation, or on her way out from Western Union office)
her dear mommy got hit by a car / her daddy had a heart attack, so the money was needed for the hospital immediately, etc;
she got hit by a car on the way to the airport
she got robbed on the way to the airport;
she got robbed AND beaten up by some mean taxi driver, or street people, or something like that, on the way to the airport
she got stopped in the airport for trying to leave the country with an illegal art item (and icon, or a golden ring, or a painting she wanted to give her beloved guy as a present), and now she is being held on jail and she needs money to get a lawyer.
If she was robbed, all the girl's documents including the visa and the tickets and the insurance money will be gone without a trace. The scammer will "come back empty-handed" to the victim, crying and beating herself up for being "stupid and careless", but will right away ask for forgiveness and money to start the visa/tickets process all over again.
If the girl got hit by a car or beaten up by the bad street people on her way to the airport, the girl's " relative" ("mom", "sister", "aunt", even "friend") will write to the victim explaining "the tragedy" that happened. Sometimes ever a "doctor" will write explaining the extensiveness of the girl's injuries and the costs of the treatment. The victim may even send some money for hospital bills.
However some scammers disappear after getting their first visa/tickets money and never re-appear again. Maybe they have a conscience, or maybe they just don't think anyone would fall for the same trick twice.
Since some people actually DO send money for visa/tickets/insurance twice and even three times, the scammer will go on with her terrible accidents for as long as the man does not loose his patience or wise up, and then of course she will disappear.
Phase 5: The disappearing act
Some scammers will start getting out of the relationship little by little. They will start to write only once a week, then once every two weeks, and even less (claiming that their work keeps them too busy to write). Others disappear on the way to the first meeting and reappear a week or two later with a very sad story of being beaten and robbed by a taxi driver.
Sooner or later most victims realize that they are being taken advantage of and stop sending money. The scammer usually gets away with anywhere from $500 to $7000.
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How do I spot a scam?
Actually, in most cases it is not difficult at all, and if you know what things to look for, you will be almost scam-proof on your own.
She contacts you first. Especially if the membership on the dating site is not free.
Her profile says that she is from the US, but later she tells you that she is actually from Russia, and that the US location was a mistake, or that she couldn't select "Russia" from list of countries.
She says that it is her first attempt to find romance online, and that she picked your profile because she liked it
She sends you a picture or two with almost every letter
Lots of her pictures are pretty enticing so to speak. Pictures of her laying on her bed (and giving you "come and take me" look), in her bra, nude covering her breasts with her hands, unbuttoning her shirt, winking at you while laying naked in bed, in bikini on a beach, swimming in water, showing off her boobs, raising her skirt, turning her nude back to you, etc. In general, pictures are posed as to seduce a guy. Watch out, that's a huge warning sight. The more pictures of that kind she sends, the bigger the chance that she is up to no good. Sincere ladies save those kind of pictures until much later in the relationship.
Her pictures has numbers corresponding with the number of the letter (ex. 2.1, 2.3, 2.4 etc). This is usually a clear indication of pre-written correspondence.
Her pictures have names like "Hello" or "I_love_you", or "I miss you".
The file name of her pictures has a different first name than her own (ex; "Katya7.jpg" when your girl's name is Olga)
Her pictures have numbers next to them exceeding 5 or 10 (like Smirnova_K.15.jpg). Very few real girls have so many pictures available or ever fewer giving them numeric names.
Her life story is very sad. Her mom died during the child delivery, or her dad died in the line of duty as a policemen, or her dad abandoned the family, or something like that. She tells you that in her first or second letter.
She has a friend who met a guy from Germany, she got her visa and now she lives in Germany with her beloved.
Since a lot of correspondence needs to be handled, most of their letters are prewritten. In fact, we believe that the scammers have at least 50 different prewritten letters, to fit lots of situations. This is their weakest point, since once we have a couple of examples of any particular scammer "letters", we can easily spot them again among hundreds of other letters.
Because the letters are prewritten, they are VERY generic. Most of the time they just create the appearance of a personal letter, and as such consist mainly of long descriptions of what happened today, the "girl's" favorite things to do, weather conditions, relationships with her mom, etc ("today I have been eating a fruit salad. I love fruit salads and eat then often").
The girl's is very fluent in English
The letters are very long and fancy.
The girl writes poetry in English
The girls says that she does not have a phone at home but she can call you from a pay phone
The questions you ask will not be answered in the middle if the letter, but maybe as a P.S. note or as a few first or last lines.
Your name will not appear in the letter. Instead, there will be lots of "sweet darling", "my new friend", "honey", "my love" and anything like this. Your name will be only mentioned once or twice at the beginning or the end of the letter.
Your name may appear in a different font than the rest of the letter. (ex, "Hello, my friend FRED")
Sometimes the questions you have asked don't get answered at all, or are answered a few letters later - sometimes because there is too much correspondence going on the girl forgets who asked what, or sometimes because you asked the "wrong" questions.
She asks you to excise her for not answering your questions because "her English is not very good"
The girl asks you some questions you have discussed before (for example, she would ask you if you like this and that while you have told her before that you do or do not like it).
The girl will make some little mistakes like mentioning different dates of her birthday, or different color of her eyes or hair, than the girl in the picture has.
The girl will sign her letter with a different female name (several scammers actually did they - they much have too much correspondence going on to pay attention). If asked about that slip up, she will explain it away somehow, like it is her Christian name which is different from her real name, etc.
The girl will start to develop some strong feelings toward you within an unusually short period of time - less than 2 weeks of correspondence. Honest Russian girls are very careful and guarded when talking about their feelings. Usually the words "love" and "marriage" will come not earlier than a few months of knowing each other closely. They do not fall in love from the first picture.
The girl will start sending you kisses and call you "darling" or "sunshine" or "my best friend" after 2-3 letters
The girl will sign her letters: "your love Natasha" or "your princess Natasha" or "your future wife Natasha" within a week or two of starting the correspondence.
The girl will talk a lot about trust and understanding, telling you that she always trusts people she is dealing with. That is supposed to make you think that she herself is a very honest person.
Her "love" will grow fast and strong with every single letter and in a couple of weeks or so she will be completely crazy about you. Again, this would be very unusual for honest Russian girls who know that real feelings need time to develop and to be tested.
She will mention that her friends and colleagues at work started to notice that she daydreams a lot and suggested that she may be in love.
She will start sending more and more revealing pictures of herself or describe her sexual dreams about you. You can ask yourself who made those erotic pictures and for what purpose - or ask her, and see what she answers. Just for your information - the vast majority of Russian girls would never even think of sending a picture of themselves in their underwear to a person they hardly know. They probably wouldn't have such pictures at all.
The girl will start describing an urgent desire to meet you in person within a month or so of correspondence.
The girl will start imagining your first meeting (usually when SHE arrives at the airport) in great detail with lots of sexual hints (passionate kisses, "embracing you gently", "feeling your body under your clothes", etc)
Your suggestion of coming to her country to meet her first is for some reason rejected. For example, the girl can tell you that traveling to Russia is too dangerous for you, or that she "does not like Russia". Very strong scammer alert - usually honest girls would prefer if you would come to visit them first, so they could introduce you to their family and make sure that you are what you say and you yourself are not a scam. Proof of a face-to-face meeting within the past two years is required for obtaining a US K-1 fianc?e visa.
She says she will get a tourist visa (B1). It is pretty much impossible for a marriage-age Russian/Ukrainian woman to obtain a US, Canada or UK tourist visa. Please check with your country's Embassy for more information!
She says that she can get a fiancee visa. That is not possible for her to go without you filing the paperwork with your Embassy first.
She says she will get a tourist visa through a travel agency
She says that her visa would take only a couple of weeks to obtain.
Your suggestion of obtaining a different kind of visa (for example, a fianc?e visa) will be for some reason rejected. For example, the girl will tell you that a US fianc?e visa would take too long, while a tourist visa is very fast and easy. Exactly the opposite is true.
The girl's family member or friend is working in a travel agency or airport.
The girl's family member or friend is working in a university and can place her on the student exchange program.
The girl already has a tourist or work visa, but she doesn't have the money to buy the tickets or pay for the "insurance".
The girl goes ahead and applies for a visa without discussing it with you. This way she can be sure that the talk about money for the visa is inescapable. This is a very strong "scammer" signal since no honest girl in her right mind will apply for a visa without discussing it with you first. The honest girl would probably not even know how to apply for a visa. Most probably, an honest girl would leave the problem of obtaining a visa for her to you ("it's your country, so you figure out the best way to bring me over"). Visit your country's embassy web site to get familiar with the necessary processes which are required before the application for a visa can be made, and you will be amazed how easily it is to catch a liar on this point. Or call an immigration attorney to ask him what he thinks about your "fianc?e's" decision. He will tell you.
The girl went ahead and paid some amount already, so the process would begin (usually $100-$500 of her own "reserve" money... or she sold her mother's wedding ring, or borrowed the money from her best friend...). That's what we call the GUILT TRAP. This way she can be almost sure that you will definitely send the rest of the sum needed for visa, so her own invested money would not get wasted.
The girl ordered the tickets without asking you what date she should arrive on.
The girl pawned some of her jewelry to pay for a "deposit" for the tickets. BTW, you can't buy tickets in installments. And there are no "cash deposits" on plane tickets, either.
She gives you VERY detailed instructions about sending money via Western Union. ("You will need my full name - and it is such and such. Then they will give you a 10-digit number. I will need this number to receive the money"). Why is she so familiar with the process? Her "friend" has received money this way from her fianc?... Or works in a bank. Or something.. ;-) Again, very easy point to notice. Ask a few hundred common Russian girls what they know about receiving the money through Western Union, and a very few of them will have any idea of what Western Union is. But scammers do know Western Union's requirements very well.
The name of the receiver of the money is not her own or does not exactly match her name (for example "Pavlo" (men's name) instead of "Pavla" (woman's name); or "Evgeniy" (men's mans) vs. "Evgeniya" (women's name))
She tells you that her passport is being processed at the Embassy and she can't receive the money herself. So she suggest that her mother/father/ sister/ friend receives the money for her.
If you offer to buy tickets for her online using your credit card, she insists on buying them herself with cash. She can claim that she will get them cheaper through a travel agency, or that "requirements" are that she buys the tickets herself, or that the mail in Russia does not work well and purchased tickets may get lost in the mail.
If you do not send the money at her request she starts writing to you much less than before. The scammer is not going to waste time on "smart" (or "cheap", as they call them) victims. But they will still keep the correspondence going just in case you change your mind.
If you do send the sum required, the announcement of some unexpected additional expenses comes shortly. It may be an increase in the cost of the tickets, need for additional "travel insurance" money, some problems with the visa process, some terrible tragedy with girl's relatives, she got robbed on the way to the airport, or the money just got stolen. The problems are usually unexpected and not the girl's fault.
Since you started sending money, some evil eye is on the girl and her family. The money got stolen again and again, her mother is hit by a car and needs an operation, she herself got a heart attack and is dieing in hospital without necessary medications.... the only way out is stop sending the money before her family becomes completely extinct! ;-)
Other things to watch out for:
the girl claims it is the first time she "uses the internet to get aquatinted with a man".
the girl says she is a virgin in her very first letter.
the girl starts asking for Internet-cafe money very shortly after the correspondence begins; in the first few letters she describes you the exact amount of her salary ($60 dollars almost always);
she is 26 years old and a virgin, yet she has twenty professional pictures of herself nude or semi-nude;
her e-mail changes frequently and without particular reason;
she gives her info necessary for wire transfers even if you did not ask for it;
she initiates the visa talk;
the letters are very poetic and passionate, but not too detailed;
her mother (father/brother/uncle) is very ill and dieing in front of her eyes (or "on her eyes" as it is usually said);
she used the word "structure" in her first letters to you ("I liked your structure very much", "I have looked your structure" - these phrases have been found in a number of scammer letters);
she loves eating fruit salad;
she wants to be a professional model.
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Am I being scammed if:
She tells me she can come on a tourist visa to see me
Probably yes. Most likely you are being set up for the "visa and tickets scam". But check with your Embassy to see how easy would it be for her to get a tourist visa to your country.
She tells me she can come on a student visa
Unlikely but possible. Do not send her money just yet. Ask her to provide more details on the University that she is going to come to study at, and then contact that University. I am sure that if they have some kind of student exchange program in place, they will be happy to tell you about it. Also, you can contact the Embassy that issued that visa to confirm that the visa is valid.
She tells me she can come on a fianc?e visa and that she can obtain that visa
She cannot file for a fianc?e visa if the two of you have never met before. One of the requirements for the fianc?e visa is a personal meeting within the last two years. And YOU will have to file lots of paperwork before she can even fill out her application.
She tells me she can come on a business or work visa
Unlikely but possible. Do not send her money without verification of the validity of her visa. Ask her to send you a scanned picture of her visa and then contact the Embassy that issued that visa to confirm that the visa is valid.
Some ladies offer to come on a work visa and then to get a fianc?e visa later. You will still be asked to pay for travel expenses (see example).
She still has ads running on many dating sites even after she states that she likes me and wants to marry me?
Well, if she placed a half of dozen of those ads in different catalogs before, she may not remember to remove them later. Also, the agencies may keep selling her address for their own profits. You may try to "reply" to her existing listings under different names/e-mail address, and see what happens.
She tells me that her Internet costs a lot, and she has very little money to pay for it.
This may be the complete truth - Internet-cafes DO cost a lot, and the average salary in Russia is $100 - $200 per month. Even given that an hour in the Internet cafe costs only $1 (more often more than that), it is a big expense for her.
But if this is one of the FIRST things she mentions in her very first letters, then it is a scam-alert. Usually honest girls will wait until some degree of relationship has started to develop to get brave enough to mention that some support is needed.
The agency requested me to pay something to be able to continue writing to her.
Unless it is a scheduled membership renewal - yes, it is a strong scam alert. Ask the agency to give you the girl's address or phone so you could contact her on your own. If they refuse to do so, just stop using that agency (and please report that agency to us - we will place it on the Possibly Dishonest Agencies list). If your desire to continue your correspondence with the girl is still very strong, consider using one of our investigation services - we may be able find out if the "girl" exists at all and to locate her address and phone if possible.
She never uses my name. She gives me a lot of sweet and nice names but never calls me by name.
We would say it is a usual scam indication. But if the letters are very personal and have all your questions answered in detail and do not have any other scam-symptoms, then it might just be that person's manner of speaking.
If there ARE other scam-symptoms in the letters, then you may wish to be careful with that person.
She said her friend works in a travel agency.
Of course there IS a possibility that one of the girl's friends really works in a travel agency, but we would suggest you keep your eyes open for other scam-alert signals. If you would like to know for sure - ask the girl for the name of the agency her friend works for, and see what the girl says. If she gives you the name of the agency her friend is supposed to work for, then we can check that agency for you easily.
She said her mom is very ill and they are paying a lot for the treatment.
Well, it is the second most often used reason for scammers to ask for money, but we would not rush to place her on our black list just because of that. In her particular situation this may be the complete truth. Many people's parents (especially if they are pretty old already) do get very ill and do need an expensive treatments and drugs. We suggest you go though all black lists you can find and make sure that your friend is not on one of them already. If you didn't find her on any black list, but still would like to find out for sure how her mom is doing, we could check it for you. And if her mom is really as ill as she says, then we would suggest you help your Russian friend if you like her a lot, and if you are in stable financial condition yourself. That will probably mean a lot to her. If the story with mommy's illness turns out to be a lie, then you will know exactly with whom you are dealing.
She has already fallen in love with me but we have hardly been writing each other for a month.
Unless you recently won Mr. Universe and lots of girls everywhere are crazy about you - it IS probably a scam. Check all black lists and send us copies of her letters, if you wish. We can compare her letters to a few hundreds of other scammers letters and see if we find your Russian admirer in our database.
Her feelings for me are very strong. I am many years older than her and in my country I am not considered to be very attractive for a girl of her age.
50/50 scammer possibility. Many girls in Russia do prefer dating older men (I was one of them. The age difference between my husband and myself is 29 years, and I am completely happy in my marriage), and 10-20 years difference is very common. But be aware that many scammers commonly prey on older western men, since they are considered to be a pretty easy target.
What you can do to try to make sure she is not a scammer: 1) Check all black lists to see if the girl's pictures are already there. 2) If you didn't find anything that way, try to write to her under a different name and use a different age, mention that you are making a good living, and ready to support your new Russian friend. See what she will do.
She didn't mentioned ill mom or money for visa yet, but she is telling me about her poor financial situation in every letter.
She may be a scammer or may be a girl in a very poor financial situation, who desperately tries to get your help.
To see what kind of person it is you may just mention that you are in a bad financial situation yourself and would love to help her with money but cannot at the moment. If she is as attracted to your personality, as she says, then she will understand (and in that case I would suggest you do help her at least with the money for her Internet costs). If she is there just for the money, her letters will become less and less loving, and she will probably drop the correspondence.
In many of her letters she tells me the same things over and over again, in exactly the same words.
Yes, big possibility of a "copy and paste" scammer. They use prewritten letters and take pieces of them as they need. Check all black lists very carefully, and consider writing the girl using a different name. See if her letters will change.
She said she doesn't have a phone so I cannot call her.
Maybe a complete truth. Even in major cities lots of people in FSU do not have a phone in the house. But we can check if she DOES have a phone. If she does you may ask yourself why would she lie about that.
She sent me only one picture of herself and says she does not have any more to send to me.
May be a scammer using someone's picture. If you would like to get more of her pictures, order a surprise flower delivery for her. Ask the delivery agency to make a picture of the addressee upon delivery. If the girl will refuse to let them make a photo, something is definitely wrong.
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DISHONEST MARRIAGE AGENCIES
A couple of con artists will set up "an international marriage agency". To begin with they will make some shootings of professional or semi-professional models or just attractive girls of different ages, and maybe make a few videos with girls introducing themselves with whatever name they will be told to use. The girls may have a very little idea what this for and just want their three or five dollars per picture (maybe more if nude or half-nude). Also the ad will be placed in all local papers that a new marriage agency offers an opportunity to get married in Germany and US/Canada, and therefore all pretty young single girls are invited for interview. This way the agency actually gets some real girls and real addresses. Then some free or cheap web site and free or public e-mail address will be obtained and the process will begin.
It is a very common practice for an international marriage agency to offer their clients some additional services like translation of the correspondence, mail forwarding, flowers and gifts delivery, English lessons and sometimes even obtaining the girl's visa and tickets "at discount prices". The scammers will not only provide these services, but they will often insist on using only their services, and no outside interpreters or flower deliveries are allowed.
If a client buys an address of a real lady, they would insist on using their translation services and easily take control over the content of the letters. If a client buys a photo of a model who is long gone, the agency will correspond with him as if they were the girl and the client will never know the difference. In this case prewritten letters are usually used.
To make sure they will get paid for their efforts, the agency will start to push the girls to ask their men for "financial help", money for the Internet, money for sick family members and so on. In some extreme cases the agency would actually add this money requests to the girl's letters without the girls knowledge. Or, if it would be completely necessary to inform the girl about the money requests, the agency would just force the girl to confirm money transfers but keep the money for themselves. The girl, who dreams of getting married aboard, is completely dependent on the "agency", and would probably do whatever they force her to, by naivety or by strong wish to get married at any costs.
Sometimes to get paid even more, the agency would force the girl to correspond with as many men as possible, even if she has no interest in them or has already chosen the one whom she likes the most. The agency is making a good chunk of their money on flowers, mail forwarding and translations - so they are pushing their profits from one "girl" to the limits. They promise the girl, that when she will leave to get married, they will help her apologize to her other "fianc?s" and to explain that she has already "found her Mr. Right"
After a while the usual request for visa and tickets money will come. The agency will ask you to send the money ($1500-$3000) via Western Union so they could "send the girl to you". Usually the request is very "urgent" and the opportunity to buy the tickets immediately will be emphasized. Or the request for money will come from the "girl" herself, but she would urge you to buy the tickets from the "agency".
If you send the money, things will probably go by this scenario: the agency would "find out" while applying for the visa there were some difficulties and some more money would be needed to complete the process. Then, the process is complete but the visa didn't arrived yet, so there is a further delay. Then the tickets got more expensive and few hundreds more are needed to be able to buy them. After that some other problems will occur requiring more cash from you. At the end if the girl IS real and wishing to meet you, you may actually see your fianc?e arriving. If the girl was never actually real, or she was writing to you only because the agency "advised" her to do so, then you will just receive a short notification that she has changed her mind and does not wish to come any more. Since nowhere on their web site is there a word about refunds, you may try to contact them for a few months, but the chance to get the money back is close to zero.
How do I spot a scam?
Here are a few tips:
The agency's web site does not have it's own domain but uses something like www.geocities.123456.stp.natashashotgirls.com (it means that it is a free web site and free domain name - very strong scam-alert). That by itself does not necessarily makes the agency a scammer, but in combination with other signals it could be a strong warning.
On the web site the only contact information available is their e-mail address, no physical address or phone listed.
Their e-mail address is free and practically anonymous (like firstname.lastname@example.org). This is an especially strong scam-alert signal if no other contact information is provided.
The agency does not have any return policy - again, this fact itself does not make an agency a scammer, but in combination with other warning signals can mean a lot.
Lots of girls on this cheap-looking web site are extremely pretty, and many are nude. Ask yourself how such a poor web site could get so many pretty girls at one place - does this look normal compared to other sites?
Agency offers lots of services and almost all of them are already prepackaged for you so you are forced to use them.
Communication with the agency is very poor and unreliable.
Some of the ordered addresses never came.
The girls' introductory letters that you receive through the agency are identical to each other.
Agency insists on using their translation and mail forwarding services.
If you order a picture or a video of a girl to be taken, they come in the wrong format (ex.. you ordered 30-minutes video but received a 45-minutes video, or vice versa), or the background of the picture is out of season (snow in the middle of July or green trees on the "Christmas" picture).
The agency refuses to give you ladies' direct addresses or phone numbers. They suggest you keep in contact with the girls through their office. They may explain it is for the "protection" of the girls.
Some of your requests, questions or complaints are left unanswered. The agency may claim that they sent you a reply but the mail got lost.
Of course, the biggest warning is that the agency asks you to send money for a tourist visa and tickets for the girl. They are supposed to know that a tourist visa is almost impossible to obtain for a Russian or Ukrainian girl unless she can show something like $5000 income per month.
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