Scam Warning Signs
- Most scams follow a general pattern
- Russian scammers popularly use the plane ticket/visa scam
- Translation scams
- Fake marriage agency scams
- Photos too good to be true?
- Odd emails?
- Unanswered questions?
- Tragedy or hardship?
- Professing Love?
Remember the golden rule - NEVER SEND MONEY TO ANYONE YOU MEET ONLINE.
“I was so naive and silly that I waited for Sofiya for 3 hours at the airport with a bunch of flowers. The damage for all this was $3,625 USD and a broken heart.” – Scam Victim
Russian dating sites are very popular and while many men have met genuine, loving Russian women, unfortunately sometimes one encounters scammers as well. There are many variations of online dating scams originating in Russia and Eastern Europe but they have in common a high emotional and financial cost to unsuspecting scam victims. Typically, a man comes into contact with a scammer through an online dating agency. The scammer will have photos showing a young and attractive woman though her profile may say she’s from America or England. The scammer will later explain that she’s from Russia but couldn’t select it as an option on the dating site.
In the first few letters the scammer will say what a good woman she is and how hard life is in Russia. Her monthly salary is only a few hundred dollars, all Russian men are drunks and maybe her family died in a tragic accident or they are ill and in need of surgery. Heart strings are pulled and victims are sucked in.
At this point she will set the victim up as her knight in shining armor, the only one who can help her. She might just need money to pay her bills but will probably want desperately to come and visit him in his Western nation. She professes her love and gives instructions to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram.
This is a broad example of Russian online dating scams. The period from first contact to first cash request could be a few days or a few months but regardless how long you've "known" the person, a request for money is a scam.
Scammers operate from countries with low per capita income and even if a scam takes months to pay out it is worthwhile for them, even for just a few hundred dollars. Scammers use services like Western Union because it is all but impossible to track the recipient of the money which can be picked up anywhere in the world.
A scammer could be a man or woman operating solo, posing as an attractive young lady, or part of an organized scamming operation. Such operations have been known to hire young Russian women to act as the voice on the other end of that romantic phone call.
After taking the time to get to know you, she says she's coming to visit you or wants to move to your country. She will then ask you to send her money for her plane ticket and/or visa. This ploy also relies on the stereotypical assumption that all Russian and Eastern European women want to move to or visit America, Canada, the UK or Australia which simply isn't the case.
With many people catching on to this scam, the scammers have “improvised” their story a little. They do not ask for money for a ticket or visa but instead send you a scanned visa as “proof”. This is likely to be a scan of a fake or fabricated visa. Just when you think everything is going smoothly, there is a last minute problem and they will request you to urgently send them some money, without which it will be impossible for them to make their trip. Sometimes, they will even cite certain immigration requirements to sound more convincing. But rest assured, once you send that money that is the last you will hear from her.
If you are seeing a Russian woman and are keen on meeting her, it is always wiser for you to go visit them instead of inviting them to visit you. This way you can avoid losing money through a scam and a traditional Russian woman would probably prefer it if the man made the effort to come visit her.
This is another common scam used by Russian scammers. A Russian woman will start interacting you but tell you she cannot speak or understand English. After some time, she will tell you she cannot continue communicating with you as she cannot afford to pay for the translation service anymore. At this point, they either expect you to offer to pay for the service or even ask you if you will be willing to pay for the service so you can continue your relationship. This is a scam and you should never send money for it!
There are several fake website masquerading as Russian marriage agencies promising to bring Western men and Russian women together. While most Russian dating websites are genuine, a number of them are fake and their so-called members are not real either. They will ask you for large amounts of money, promising to set you up with a beautiful Russian women but your money is as good as gone because the agency is a scam. Choose a reputable dating service or agency in order to avoid being scammed this way.
You come across a profile of a young, attractive woman on an online dating site or maybe she contacts you. The photos are stunning, perhaps professionally taken or provocative, but the description of what she's looking for in a partner is vague. It could be a scammer, often a man, using photos downloaded from the internet in the hope of sucking in as many victims as possible.
So you've missed the first warning sign and are corresponding with an attractive young lady from Russia or Eastern Europe. She writes gushing, emotive emails but do your questions often go unanswered? Does it seem like she's not reading your letters? It could be a scammer using template emails sent to dozens of men.
After a few emails or even a few months she professes her undying love for you. Love is, generally, an acquired feeling but someone you've never met claims to have given her whole heart to you. It could be a scammer setting you up for the big hit.
The scammer comes to the crunch, requesting a sum of cash. The reason could be unpaid household bills or emergency surgery for a family member but it is most likely to be travel and visa expenses. Typically the scammer requests an amount to travel to Moscow and purchase a plane ticket and then a few days before the ‘departure' she will say that she urgently needs a few thousand dollars in her account as a security bond to enter your country. Don't bother booking a welcome dinner, you're being scammed.