Russian Bride Scams
Most of the Russian bride scams actually involve men pretending to be Russian
women, and a lot of them are not run from Russia!
In the USA in 2004 a San Bernardino County man was sentenced to 5 years
prison for cheating at least 352 men out of more than $1 million through
Russian bride scams
They are very lucrative and a group in Russia scammed 1,500 men and
extorted more than $1.5 million US dollars from them in 2 years! Most of the
money was gained using the infamous 'visa and airfare' scheme.
It preys on men who have dreams, hopes and expectations of finding love,
understanding and appreciation in foreign women.
A lot of men feel they have
found their true love even though the romance may have only been going a few
The woman is wonderful, however she is poor, and desperately needs
money. When she asks for help for such things as arranging a trip to meet
the love of her life, or to solve a family tragedy, the wallet is opened,
and the Russian bride scams have snared another victim.
How Do the Russian Bride Scams Work?
It occurs when a lonely foreign man gets acquainted over the internet with
an attractive female from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc who then tries to get
as much money out of the unsuspecting foreigner as possible.
The money is usually for travelling expenses but the man may also be asked to cash checks, open an Ebay account for the woman,
or provide credit card details so that the woman can deposit money to cover
travel expenses etc for her to meet the man.
A dating scammer starts by creating a false personal profile with stolen
photos from the internet and then joins an online dating agency or chat
room. Many online dating sites allow anyone to join for free and often don't
screen their members.
The scammer will usually make the first contact and say they are looking for
love or a soul mate.
The Russian bride scams usually involve dozens of pre-written letters that the
scammers use on the
hundreds of replies they receive.
As the scammer is often dealing with so many replies they tend to ignore the
questions asked of them and instead write about what they have been doing,
the weather, their family members etc and if they do answer any questions,
it is usually at the
beginning or end of the letter.
Some scammers however realize that the pre-written letters aren't as
effective any more and may focus on lesser volume of letters but make them more
The letter quickly becomes very romantic, flattering and seductive, and
within 2-6 weeks the scammer falls in love with the victim! Most of the
scammers say it is the first time they have used the Internet to find a man
and that they 'feel something special' about this relationship.
The letters will become filled with phrases like 'my darling', 'my
sweetheart, 'my future husband' and have lots of kisses and hugs, and
mentions things like 'I dream of you all day' or that the strong love
is overwhelming her, or she is having sexual dreams about him.
Then after the scammer has convinced the victim she is in love with him, she
becomes desperate to meet him and commences investigating a visa and travel
arrangements. Then she reaffirms her undying love and explains that she has
found a way to get a visa and what is involved in the travel.
Some scammers in the Russian bride scams at this point ask for money. The reasons for the money
may be for:
Passport, visa, air tickets and travel insurance
Emergency medical expenses for her or her family due
to illness or accidents
Internet cafe expenses, cell phone, marriage agency
Monthly agency fees
Interpreter's fees because her English is not good
enough to truly express her feelings
Ransom money/debt to the mafia
It usually starts with small amounts for the visa and then builds up to
accommodation to travel to the Embassy for the visa, and then airfares. Some scammers will say they have sold their
grandmothers jewellery to pay for the trip but are short of the total amount
and need some extra money. If the victim offers to buy the tickets using his
credit card, the scammer will say that the tickets may get lost in the mail,
or she can get a discounted ticket because a family member works in a travel
In the Russian bride scams, it is not uncommon to find that the letters asking for money are accompanied
with very seductive or revealing photos.
Sometimes if the victim has some reservations about sending money the
scammer will send scanned copies of fraudulent visas or air tickets.
If the victim is still hesitant, the scammer may suggest sending some checks
or money orders [that her brother has earned from an overseas business and
given to his sister to help her out] to the victim to cash and then getting
the victim to wire the money back to the scammer to fund the travel expenses
[the checks or money orders will bounce!].
Another spin with Russian bride scams is to ask the victim for their credit card
information so the scammer can deposit funds into the card to assist the
victim paying for the airfares [the goal being to steal the credit card
Once the scammer has received money for the visa and
airfare, they will be bubbly and excited and then a few days later comes
the bad news!
Now there is a need for more money - perhaps $2,000 in
cash in order to enter the country to show evidence of adequate funds to
support them during their stay, or travel insurance of $1,500. Whatever the
reason, it will cause disappointment in the victim, and is usually another
opportunity for the scammer to profit.
Some scammers involved in the Russian Bride scams decide to quit at this point and the victim
will never hear from them again. Others decide there may be more money to
bleed from the victim and continue with yet further 'bad news' about the
Was beaten and robbed by a taxi driver on the way to
the airport and needs more money for new documents and tickets
Was involved in a car accident on the way to the
airport and needs money for hospital expenses or surgery
Was stopped at the airport and arrested for trying to
leave with a painting or artifact that was a gift for her sweetheart -
and now she needs money to get out of jail or for bribes
Sooner or later the victim realizes they are a victim of
the Russian bride scams and
stops sending money.
How to Spot the Russian Bride
The list below includes many of the signs of Russian bride
She contacts you first and says it is her first
attempt to find romance online and she picked your profile because
she liked it
Her profile says she is from the US or UK or Canada
etc and then she admits she is from Russia and made a mistake, or says
that the dating service doesn't allow registrations from Russia
Often the profiles or first letter will mention that
'all Russian men drink too much' and may be included in a sentence like
"I have very bad marriage experience. My
husband drinked too much. We divorce. Now I want to find partner not
from Russia, because I dont like russia mens of they most drinking
Most of the Russian bride scams originate in Mari El [Yoshkar
Ola is the capital and is getting a reputation as a second Nigeria]
although they rarely put that in their profiles. Their favourite 3
cities they say they are from are Kazan, Kirov and Cheboksary. You can
check if the email originated in Mari El by checking the I.P address in
the full email headers. You can put the I.P. address in here
and enter it in the box that says "IPWHOIS Lookup. If you are using
Yahoo webmail, there is a link about "full headers" in the right top
corner. If you are using Outlook Express, right-click the message, then
click "Properties", then "Details". If you are using other email
clients, read the help files
Most of the letters will be accompanied with photos
that are revealing and are meant to seduce the man
The photos have numbers to match the letter [3.2], or
have a different name to hers, or names such as 'I love you'
The letters are usually pre-written so are very
generic and consist mainly of information such as what she did today,
the weather, what she ate today [most seem to love fruit salad!], what
her favorite things are etc. Any questions asked of her tend to be
answered at the beginning, end or in a P.S. at the end
Your name doesn't appear in the letter, and instead
she refers to you as 'darling', 'honey', 'sweetheart', 'my prince' or
'my love'. If it does appear, it may be in a different font!
Within a couple of weeks she is falling in love with
you, and signing the letters such as 'your love Natalia' or 'your future
wife Natalia' and including lots of kisses
A move to another country is a big move yet she
doesn't ask a lot of questions about you, your work, your family, your
hobbies and interests, your ideas, your views etc
She talks a lot about trust and how she trusts people
she deals with. She will talk of how her friends see her daydreaming a
lot and suspect she is in love. The letters become progressively sexual
and the photos more seductive
If there are telephone calls, they usually hire women
who can speak English for the calls [called 'prozvon']. Usually the good
English of the woman on the phone does not match the bad English of the
letters written [the letters are mostly templates written in Russian and
interpreted using software like Prompt that has spaces for names,
cities, small phrases etc. The spaces are usually not filled in manually
and they use a program called The Bat for this]
She is the first to bring up the topic of visas and
has an urgent need to meet you in person. If you suggest going to her
country to meet it will be rejected for some reason
She says she will get a tourist visa [just about
impossible for her to get one for the US, UK or Canada unless she is
earning $5,000 a month]. You should check with your own Embassy
She goes ahead and applies for the visa without
discussing it with you. No genuine woman would do this and probably
wouldn't even know how to do it!
She pays for the visa and asks for reimbursement. She
also books the air tickets without agreeing a date of arrival with you
first. A deposit is paid on the tickets using the proceeds from the sale
of family jewellery or borrowed from family of friend etc [the guilt
She provides very detailed instructions for sending
the money through Western Union [she will provide you her full name and
a 10 digit number so she can receive the money etc]. This should ring
alarm bells because the average Russian woman wouldn't know anything
about Western Union - only scammers do
The name she provides for the Western Union money
won't match exactly the name she has been using in her letters. She of
course will provide a rational explanation such as her passport is at
the Embassy so she is getting a relative or friend to receive it for
If you offer to buy the air tickets she will find a
reason why that is unacceptable such as she can get them cheaper through
a friend, or knows a travel agent, or the travel agency she is using
doesn't accept credit cards, or the mail is not reliable
If you do send her money, then there are always
unforeseen problems that require further money such as travel insurance,
tickets stolen, health problems, accidents that require medical
If You Think Your Girl is Involved with Russian
Google her name using a combination of her first and
last name. Scammers often change the photos, age, city of residence etc
so be prepared for a match of name but different particulars. Check to
see if they are on a Russian Bride scams blacklist. They may have a
common name like Elena Nikolaeva so it would pay to check she isn't
connected to a known scammer
Google the sentence from her profile description in
quotes. If it returns a lot of results with different names, locations
etc, it is a scam
Google parts of her letters to you by using phrases
or combinations of words that are pretty unique such as 'My liked films
it Gladiator and Angel city'. If you find other letters on the internet
the same as yours you are probably dealing with the same scammer as they
tend to use pre-written letters
If you find her name or letters on the internet,
DON'T send her money, DON'T tell her you found her details on the
internet or on a Russian Bride scammer's blacklist site as they will
change their details and be harder to catch
If you are still not sure, ask her to have a photo
taken of her holding up one of the photos you sent her of you. You could
also ask her to have a photo taken that you specify such as in her
backyard next to the red flowers she talks about. If she says she lives
in Moscow, ask for a photo of her next to the Kremlin
Ask her for a scanned copy of her passport if she is
asking for money
Remember that no honest, respectable woman will ever
ask for your money under the circumstances listed above. A true woman
does not want your pity or money - she wants a relationship and your
love. She would never accept money from you until you have actually met
Advise the woman that you are coming to visit her
[even if you aren't going to] and see the response as a scammer will
find a reason why she should visit you otherwise she gets no money!
If your relationship with her is serious, check to
see if her profile is still on the dating site and therefore she is
still looking for men!
If the profile is still there, send a reply using
different details about yourself from a different email address and see
what reply you get [it may be the same letter you first received!]
If the profile is still there, send a reply to her
using different details and email address and ask her if she has found
someone yet [a scammer will always answer no]
What to do for Russian Bride
Once the scammer has asked for money, stop further
communications with them
Report them to the dating site
No matter how trustworthy they may seem, DO NOT SEND
If you have sent them money, your chances of getting
it back are really zero, but you should report it to the Police, Western
Union [if it was used] or Moneygram [if it was used]
If you are from the
US, you can also visit the Internet Fraud Complaint Center hosted by the
FBI at http://www.ic3.gov
in order to file a complaint. For information on contacting law
enforcement officials in Russia, you may try contacting the Russian
Embassy in the United States at:
Advice for Russian Bride
Enjoy the relationship, but
DON'T SEND THEM MONEY OR CREDIT CARD OR BANK DETAILS!!! and then all you will
lose is your heart!
If you are a US
citizen, the Fraud Prevention Unit can verify the authenticity of any
U.S. visa via e-mail at FPMM@state.gov.
In addition, complete and authoritative information on applying for a
U.S. visa is available on the Department of State’s webpage on
Visa Information for Temporary Visitors.
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Russian bride scams
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Russian Bride Scams