Russian Scams

The two main categories of Russian scams are those that a person may be a victim of when they visit Russia, and the Russian bride scams.

The online Russian scams involve a woman [or man] who contacts lonely foreign men through the internet on the basis of seeking true love or a soul mate.

The scammer quickly falls in love with the man and tells him what he wants to hear, usually by sending pre-written letters that are sent to thousands of unsuspecting men.

Once the men are awash with emotion and their logic affected, the scammer invents a reason that requires money.

This can be anything from visa and plane tickets to be with him, a sick parent or an injury themselves that requires medical care, to buy a mobile phone or pay internet expenses, or to fix up the house or an apartment for him to stay in.

Whatever the reason is, they need money, and lots of it!

See our other pages for more detailed information on these types of online dating Russian scams

The main types of Russian scams that operate when you are in Russia include:

  • Pick-pocket and lost wallet scams
  • Drugs in drinks scam
  • Police scams
  • Customs scams

Pick-Pocket and Lost wallet Scams

These are the most common Russian scams. The pick-picketers looks for a foreigner in a crowded place such as busy streets, train and bus stations, crowded buses and metro/subway areas.

If they are working alone they will get close and bump/jostle you while at the same time trying to remove any items such as wallets, passports etc. If they work in pairs, one will distract you by bumping into you while the other works to steal your valuables.

The lost wallet scam is one of the popular Russian scams and starts with a person in a hurry running past you who drops a wallet or roll of money in front of you as they go past. Before you can pick it up, somebody else picks it up [a co-conspirator] and offers to share half of it with you. You will however need to follow the man to a quiet place to divide up the money [several hundred dollars] such as behind a building etc. When you get there, the person who dropped the wallet or money finds you both and demands the money back.

The other man denies having it and so you are accused of having it and the accuser demands to see your wallet and empty your pockets. While you are showing the money in your wallet to the accuser, the other man puts the large amount of money in your back pocket. The accuser insists the money in your wallet is his and demands it back or he will call the Police and have you arrested. Because you have the large amount of money in your back pocket, it is easier to give the accuser your cash to get rid of him.

When the 2 men have gone, you take out the money from your back pocket thinking you have profited from the deal, only to find it is fake!

Drugs in Drinks Scams

Russian scams

Although this scam is well known, men fall for it regularly. The  con women working this scam frequent bars and nightclubs looking for foreigners. Once they have singled one out, they introduce themselves and socialize with them.

When the man is not looking, or goes to the bathroom, the woman puts drugs in his drink designed to make him drowsy/unconscious and also erase his memory when he come round. The woman and man then go back to her or his place where they chat while she waits for him to go unconscious.

She then robs him of his valuables [and anything else if she is at his place] and about 48 hours later when he comes round, he can't remember what happened but soon finds out he has been robbed.

Police Scams

This Russian scam involves the Police stopping foreigners and asking to see their documents. They often advise there is a problem with the documents, but say they will do nothing if they are given money. They target especially Asian tourists because they are less questioning of authority and prefer to pay rather than have conflict, and are more likely have a reasonable amount of money for the bribe.

The reasons are usually fake as they assume foreigners will be familiar with all the laws.

Customs Scams

These Russian scams operate in a similar fashion to the Police scams above - the customs officer finds a problem with your documents - which of course can be fixed for a fee!

They also particularly target Asian tourists for the reasons stated above.

What to Do to Avoid the Russian Scams

  • Don't put your wallet, passport etc in your back pocket or jacket pockets. Put them in a 'passport protector belt' worn under your shirt
  • If someone bumps into you, immediately put your hand over your valuables!
  • Carry a cheap throw-away decoy wallet on you with a couple of dollars in it. Fill it up with fake credit cards, used phone cards etc to make the wallet look big. If you are held up, or pick-pocketed, it will be a small loss for you
  • If the dropped wallet or money occurs in front of you, head in the opposite direction. Don't be bullied into accepting half the proceeds - threaten to call the Police
  • To avoid the Police bribes, try not to dress like a tourist, keep small amounts of cash on you [hide the rest in a passport protector belt if you wish to carry a lot of money around]. If you are stopped and questioned, common advice is not to talk Russian [assuming you can], write their Police number etc down and ask to speak to your lawyer ["jurist" in Russian]. If that fails, ask to be taken to the Police station and your legal right is to have a translator brought in for you. Some of the above may cause the bribe to be dropped as it is not wise for the Police Chief to be made aware an officer has tried to bride you.
  • To avoid the customs scams, follow the advice above for Police scam

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