VISA-AND-TICKETS DATING SCAM:
FIRST THINGS TO KNOW
(by Elena Garrett, July 2011)
HOW DOES THE SCAM WORKS?
A brief summary.
Basically, it is a scam where a lonely foreign man gets acquainted
over the Internet with an attractive supposedly single female from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.
Quickly, the " female" (the bait) falls in love with her Internet acquaintance, and shortly
after " she" begins to plan her travel to see her Mr. Right in
person. Money issues arise, and, reluctantly, the bait asks the gentleman to help
"her" with money for her visa and
tickets. Very often, the bait tells the guy that she has a work offer in his
country, and she would be able to pay off the loaned money to him quickly.
If the guy agrees, the "lady" pretends to put
all effort into making "her" travel arrangements. But the meeting
continues to be delayed. " She" acts surprised to find out that there
are various expensive requirements that " she" has to comply with before she can
fly out of the country. Those supposed
requirements usually include proof of financial independence and
requirement to pay off all loans that "she" has in her name. And
so " she" will reluctantly ask for financial help again.
If the guy is determined to make her supposed trip happen regardless of the
expenses, he sends the money again and again. In the money keep coming, the
"lady" will continue to experience difficulties. "She" will
get robbed or attacked, may become injured or sick, may suddenly get arrested,
or her apartment may get flooded or burned.
The scam will go on for as long as the
guy is willing to continue sending money to help his "Russian
princess" to get through her never-ending travel misadventure. The
bait will keep the "flames of his love" alive by periodically
chatting with him on the phone or sending him descriptions of
"her" erotic fantasies.
In the end, he will be left financially exhausted, and
" she" will continue to pretend like she is just one Western
Union money transfer away for finally being able to meet her beloved.
The same scam works with single Western gay man. An adorable and
lonely gay guy from Russia will be the main character of the same travel story, with very minor changes.
Most scammers ask
money for one or more of the following:
- passport, visa,
- travel insurance
- fines for failing to
officially register their stay in Moscow
- financial solvency money
("pocket money," "travel money," "money to show to the
customs," "money to show to the Embassy")
- money to pay off a
loan or a mortgage
- sale taxes on the her
- emergency medical expenses for the girl or her relatives
(illness, car accident, death in the family)
- bail money / to pay
fines for minor "accidental" violations of the law
- taxes supposedly owed on the
previous money transfers
- money to replace
- ransom money /
financial debt to mafia
- presents for
herself and her family at holiday times
- luxury items (cell
phones, clothes, etc)
What the victim of the
scam never realizes, however, is that behind all the seductive pictures and
behind all the warm and passionate letters hides a cynical, manipulative, and
sleek mastermind of the crime - a cyber thief of hearts and wallets. And this
mastermind is not at all who you think (s)he is...
Let's look at the scam
scenario in more detail.
THE PHASES OF THE SCAM
Phase #1. Finding the victims
A scammer usually finds a set of pictures of an attractive girl
18-45 years old female (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.
A lot of scammers actively seek out new potential victims rather
than wait for the victims to come to them. Often, scammers use big online dating web sites to approach their potential
victims. When that happens, their profiles on sites like Yahoo and Match.com indicate that they
are from the USA, Canada, or Europe (that is because those sites no longer accept subscribers
Many victims report that they received the first email from
the scammer "out of the blue," and that they never belonged to any
dating sites. Sometimes scammers even use CraigsList, Facebook, Myspace, or
other popular web site to find potential victims
If a lady from Russia contacts you first on a
large dating site, or if she sends you an email out of nowhere, then your
email address is probably being spammed by a Russian dating scammer.
Phase 2: "Grooming" the victims
After a while the letters from single men from all over the world start
arriving in the scammer's mailbox. 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
romantic 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, or when they do answer
questions, they answer them only at the very beginning or at the very end of each
Conveyer belt strategy versus personalized approach
Actually, there are two categories of Russian dating
scammers: a “serial scammer” and an "personalized approach"
"serial" type is a lot more common to see, not because
there are more of them working, but because they approach so many
different victims in a short amount of time, so it looks like there are a
lot of them. The "serial" scammers are the ones who rarely
pay attention to the conversation and tend to ignore questions and send a
chain of pre-written emails to hundreds of intended victims. They are
hoping that a small percentage of their victims (maybe 5-10%) will be
The "personalized approach" scammers are more
rare to come by – but not necessarily because there are less of them,
but because their work is much less visible. Those scammers have a much
higher “quality” of work, more attention to detail, they answer all
questions and they pay close attention to the conversation. As a result,
they have a much better “response rate” from their intended victims.
But the story and the tricks are all the same as in the usual serial
scams. They are still asking for money for travel expenses.
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
have seen several scammer using a set-up sob story about having a
previous Internet boyfriend who invited her to the his country but refused to pay for
the tickets, so the scammer paid her own money for the tickets, but the boyfriend
turned out to be a sleazebag and disappeared, so now the poor girl is
totally broke because
the purchase of the tickets depleted her of all her savings.
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.
However, the duration of the "set up" phase varies significantly.
Some scammers fall in love and ask for money within 10 days, while others may
correspond for 6-8 months before requesting any money. The duration of the
phase depends on the scammer's own work style. The longer the set up phase,
the higher is the scammer's probability of success in obtaining the money.
A common theme during the "set up" letters are:
the scammer talks about her experience with Russian men, and
how they betrayed her in one way or another
the scammer emphasizes that Russian men are bad beyond
redemption: they drink, they beat their women, they are thinking only
about sex. The scammer emphasizes
that she suffered greatly from those behaviors
the scammer does not have a computer; she writes from an
Internet cafe or from her work place (or her friend's house)
the scammer does not have a phone, but can call you from a
the scammer usually pretends to be a very traditional and
family-oriented girl looking for a traditional, family-oriented guy
the scammer tell the victim a lot about her mundane daily
activities, her pets, and her friends, and includes pictures of her
supposed friends, family members, pets, apartment, and from her supposed
the scammer talks about unconditional trust that the two
people must have in each other for the real love to happen
the scammer often talks about going to church or praying for
the relationship to work out
the scammer talks about her girlfriend 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
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
the scammer tell the victim that she is experiencing sexual dreams about
her pictures may become very seductive (see example of
"set up" letters with pictures: example#1,
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 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
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
At first, many scammers start with a small amount -
$350-$500 for the visa or, possibly, passport. Some scammers also ask for
"hotel" money for
"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 initially offer to pay for the tickets
themselves. But then they discover that the tickets supposedly cost more than
the scammer can
afford, and so they ask the victim to "split" the costs of the
tickets. Many scammers at this point claim that they went ahead and entered
into a contract with a travel agency. This travel agency will supposedly
handle all legal paperwork and the tickets, and now the scammer HAS to come up
with the necessary amount for the tickets by a certain date - other wise the travel agency
will "put her in prison" (this is called "a guilt
Some common themes that we see
during this stage of the correspondence
most scammers claim that they will be applying for a tourist
visa, but other scammers specialize on pretending to be eligible for a
student visa or a work visa
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 anyway
most of the time, the only contact provided for the
"travel agency" is their email address
the scammer usually claims that the travel agency cannot
accept a credit card payment. They request cash only as their payment method,
forcing the victim to use Western Union or MoneyGram transfers
some scammers write that they already have a work visa
to the victim's country, but lack the money for tickets
some scammer can provide the victim with a phone number of
some person located in the victim's own country who could confirm the girl's
identity or visa eligibility
At this point, some victims receive an email from the girl's "travel agent". The email will detail the
the payment instructions. Usually the indication is that the visa is guaranteed.
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
Most scammers pretend that they do not know much about Western
Union or MoneyGram transfers. They write that they "just found out"
about those wonderful service providers and they give very detailed
instructions on how to make a transfer to them
Very often, the "Western Union instructions" letter
will be the first time the scammer will actually provide the victim with the
girl's last name
If the victim is doubtful or expresses concerns about
possibility of a scam, a female with a Russian accent will call the victim on a phone to express
her love and insist on getting the money as soon as possible
Very often the money request letters are supplemented with
seductive pictures (see example of such letters with pictures: example#1,
detailed descriptions of erotic dreams, or questions about the guy's sexual
preferences or experiences.
The scammer may send the victim some documents
to prove that they are "real." For example, they can send a copy of
their "passport." Those documents are
not real documents - they are digital images altered in PhotoShop.
How can you find out if the
passport your lady sent to you is a fake?
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 probably will not be able to obtain a US tourist visa under usual
circumstances, because she is too much of a risk category for violating
conditions of her visa and staying in the USA after her visa has expired. UK and
Australian tourist visas are not easy to obtain either for the same reasons. 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
"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!!!
If the victim is still hesitant to send money, the scammers
will utilize every possible emotional button that they can press. They will
appeal to his guilt, his emotions, his pride, his supposed gender role, etc.
After investing much time and effort into the correspondence, the scammers do
not like to see their efforts fail. Even after being told "so"
several times, they can linger for many weeks, writing brief letters full of
"love" and hope.""
If the victim takes the bait and sends the requested amount,
the scammer will most likely send them a travel itinerary with flight dates
and numbers. If the victim attempts to call an airline to confirm the
reservations, he will probably find out that the reservations have indeed been
made. The trick is in the refundable nature of the tickets. The scammers order
refundable air tickets, allow the victim to confirm the flight information, and
then cancel the tickets at the last moment and receive a full refund.
scammers will also send a scanned picture of their "visa" or
"tickets". Those documents, just like the scammer's supposed
passport, are just computer-altered images.
At this phase of the scam, a lot of victims receive numerous phone calls
from the scammers. Usually the scammer makes the calls. The victim either
does not have a phone number to call, or the phone number is constantly turned
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
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 supposed love, her obsession with their first meeting and her plans to marry
But after a few days of joy and excitement the scammer will
some "bad news". She will find out that she would need a pocket
money (so-called "financial solvency requirements") 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 changes to one of desperation and
sadness. The scammer turns, once again, to the guy for financial help,
promising him that the "pocket money" 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 help with
the solvency money as well.
"tickets" and the "solvency money" are sent by the victim,
the scammer will most likely to try to continue
"milking" the victim for additional amounts. For example, she can
present the following claims to her financial knight on the white horse:
she was prevented from traveling to her foreign Prince because
it turns out that she has an unpaid bank loan
(usually mortgage) and that some new Russian law apparently require her to pay
off all debts before she can leave
the scammers usually convince the victim that once the
bank loan on the apartment is paid off, she will be able to sell the
apartment for a very big profit due to real estate boom in her area. The
scammers use the idea of the profit from the sale of the apartment to keep
the victim hoping that the girl will be able to repay the him the money he
sent for the mortgage once she arrives in his country
she needs to pay taxes on the sale of her apartment
she needs to pay a commission to the real
estate agent who is helping her to finalize the paperwork for the sale of
she needs to pay taxes on the money transfers that
she already received
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 or to
the money got
stolen from her purse at work, in some public transportation, or on her
way out from Western Union office
she got hit by a car (probably on the way to the airport)
she got robbed (probably on the way to the airport)
she got robbed and severely beaten by some unknown assailants
(on the way to the airport)
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 his forgiveness and more 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, the girl's " relative," "friend," or even her
"doctor" will write to the victim
explaining "the tragedy" that happened, the extent of the girl's
injuries, and the costs of the treatment. The victim may even send some money
for hospital bills.
her dear mommy had a heart attack or needs
a kidney transplant, so the money was used for the hospital immediately,
her mommy passed away and she had to use the money
for a funeral
her visa or tickets expired (due to previously
described problems and delays), so she needs to purchase them all over
she needs money for a bribe to give to some
she needs to pay a pre-employment tax
she needs money for a prolonged stay in Moscow
while waiting for her travel documents to be ready
she accidentally wrecked someone's expensive car
and has to pay for repairs
the trusted friend or the travel agent to whom the money
was sent turned out to be a thief and disappeared with the money
Once the scammers realize that they sank their hook into some
"rich idiot" who is able and willing to provide a stable supply of
cash, they will go into great links to keep him from doubting their stories.
They will provide him with any kind of "documents" that he requests:
scanned copies of travel agency agreements, tax receipts, bank loan statements,
hospital bills, statement of Customs declarations, pictures from hospitals and
funerals, certificates of sale for the apartment, etc. Since the victim does not
know how a real Russian documents look like, he is not likely to be able to
detect the flaws in those "documents."
effective tools that the scammers often utilize to keep the victim from
questioning the girl's story are the "personalized photos." In those
photos, the "bait" can be seen holding something that is personal and
specific to a particular victim. Such an item can be a sign with his name on it,
his picture, or his email.
|Fake travel agency agreement
||Fake "I Owe You" document
||Fake bank account statement
|Fake birth certificate
||Fake medical exam document
||Fake Sheremetievo airport customs document
Phase 5: The disappearing act
The money requests can go on for many months, sometimes even
2-3 years. Some scammers seem to be bend on getting every possible cent
from the victim's savings account, while others just quietly disappear after getting their
Since some people actually DO send money for all the travel
misfortunes that the scammers describe to them, the scammer will go on with her terrible accidents
for as long as the victim does not loose his patience or empties his bank
account (whichever comes first), and then of course she will disappear.
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, or their illness, or
caring for a sick relative is keeping them too busy
to write). Others disappear very abruptly. The scammers usually get away with
anywhere from $500 to $30,000 in pure profit from the scam.
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HOW CAN YOU DETECT A SCAM?
most accurate way to detect a scam is to verify the facts your penpal is
But in case you do not want to spend any money, here are a few
common red flags to watch.
She contacts you first. Especially if the membership on
the dating site is not free.
Her profile says that she is from a location near you, but later she
tells you that she is actually from Russia, and that the initial location was a
mistake, or that she couldn't select "Russia" from list of
She says that it is her first attempt to find romance
online, and that she picked your profile just because she liked it
She repeatedly insists that she is a very truthful person
who hates lies and deceit, especially about personal feelings
She sends you a picture or two with almost every letter
Some of her pictures are pretty enticing. For example,
of her laying on her bed (and giving you "come and take me" look), in her bra,
nude or 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. Watch out, such photos 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
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 girlfriend who met a guy from a foreign country, she got
her visa and now she lives in that foreign country with her beloved.
The girl's ability to write in English and her writing
styles seem to change often
The letters are very long but mostly vague. She talks
about her day, her work duties, her ideas about family, or her philosophy of
love - bit does not comment on the information that YOU provided in your
The girl writes poetry in English
The girls says that she does not have a phone and
insists that she calls you from some 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 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.
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
to watch movies 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,
different number of siblings, etc.
The girl will sign her letter with a different female name.
If asked about that slip up, she will explain it
away somehow, like it is her Christian name which is different from her real
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 less than a week of correspondence
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
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
agree to make such pictures to begin with.
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.
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
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 fiancée visa) will be for some reason rejected.
For example, the girl will tell you that a US fiancée 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
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 "fiancée's" decision.
He will tell you.
The girl went ahead and made a downpayment with a tourist
agency quickly, so the process would begin
$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.
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
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.
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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.
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
tells me she can come on a fiancée visa and that she can obtain that visa
She cannot file for a fiancée visa if the two of you have never met before.
One of the requirements for the fiancée 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
She tells me she
can come on a business or work visa
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 fiancée visa later. You will still be asked to pay for travel expenses
She still has ads
running on many dating sites even after she states that she likes me and wants to
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.
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,
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.
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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Asked Questions about Russian scams:
Information on How the Scammers Operate (posted on Datin'n'More)
Google to Become Your Own Detective!
I believe I
found a scammer! How can we stop her?
lost money. What do I do now?
a criminal complaint
do I find a real Russian lady? Can you recommend a good agency?
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