The fictitious person seeks to create a virtual relationship through the exchange of photos and e-mails. Scammers can sign up to online dating agencies or chat rooms just like anyone else. Many online dating sites allow anyone to join for free, and they usually do not screen their members. At some point she begins to ask for money, frequently asking that it should be transferred through wire services. She commonly states that the money is needed to help resolve a family tragedy or arrange for a trip to your country. A copy of a fraudulent visa is sometimes attached to prove good intentions. Many men have lost hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars.
Is it a scam?
Sometimes the scammers even have the cheek to use pictures of models, beauty contest winners, local celebrities and pop-stars! There are quite a few groups that operate in the area. Most are language students (female or male!?) from the local university. They obtain photographs of beautiful russian brides and then solicit western men and hopefully start up an online relationship. When the time is right, they start asking for money. In many instances the e-mail's don't even come from women. Some of the most common reasons they give for why they need your help include:
- I want to meet you but I don't have enough money to travel to see you
- I have been robbed and beaten, I require urgent surgery or treatment for a serious illness or me or my family member has been a victim of a serious or fatal accident and you are the only person who can help
It is suspicious? Sure.
They play on the typical Russian stereotypes. There are no jobs. Russian men are horrible husbands. They drink too much and are full of infidelity. They need someone to save them. So:
- Your new date looks like a model - this is probably because the scammer has used a stolen or a magazine picture
- Your date talks a lot about herself or himself and does not answer your questions - probably because they are sending standard emails to hundreds of people.
How to protect myself?
- FROM THE START - ASK FOR SPECIFIC INFOMATION! A full name, address, phone number - something. OFFER THE SAME in exchange, except make it a P.O. box and a CELL PHONE rental card that will protect your identity. If you see your requests ignored, which you usually will, don't waste your time further.
- DON'T WAIT 6 MONTHS to offer to talk with the PROSPECT by phone! WHAT A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME! IF THERE IS CHEMISTRY OR APPEARS 'INTEREST' BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU - then sieze the opportunity. ARRANGE A PHONE CALL! International rates to Russia and most places are reasonably cheap. IF YOU GET THE REPLY ' I'M SO POOR I DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO A PHONE' - drop the whole thing, your only wasting your time and WILL BE SCAMMED at some point in the future.
- ASK FOR A SPECIAL PHOTO TO BE TAKEN. IF YOU SENT YOURS, HAVE THEM TAKE A PHOTO SHOWING THEM HOLDING UP YOUR PHOTO IN THE PICTURE! That is a good 'scammer filter' - even the most adept with Photoshop will easily be spotted.
- Remember: not all international women want to move to the USA.
I think I have been scammed..
We regret that you have no way of obtaining your money back. We suggest contacting the money transfer agency or your credit card company to ascertain their policies in such cases.
We invite to cooperation all marriage agencies.
Data of any woman that requested money from a man must be removed from the database immediately and reported to us.
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