mail order brides
Another common scenario is some terrible tragedy will happen to "the mail order brides" family member (a car accident, medical emergency, you name it ) and he is the only one she can turn to for help. As soon as all the money is received, the bride is no where to be found, or another problem (where more money is needed) arises.
The reason there are so many mail order bride scams is simple. There are so many ways scammers can get out of the men in search of a mail order bride. There is very little a man can do to get his money back once he has be scammed,. this page has some warning signs and lists some of the many tactics used to scam men out of there money with phony mail order brides.
Who are these scammers? There are two common types of scammer, either an individual (not necessarily female) pretending to be a woman looking for a husband, and when the scammer is a fake "agency".
1) When you are searching for the right mail order bride, you are taking your search seriously, and so should she. If within the first two letters, she is talking about being "in love" with you, although it may be complimentary, remember: If this "mail order bride" is really looking for a husband and willing to go to a strange country, she shouldn't be falling in love within a few letters. Marriage is a serious commitment, and in the real world love takes time. Quickly falling in "love" is a scammer who doesn't want to waste time, they want to hurry up with the scam for the money, after all, that's why they are doing it in the first place.
2) If your mail order bride wants to meet you right away, and suggests you send money to her to make reservations for your hotel/motel, be suspect. Make these arrangements yourself. Especially if she wants you to send cash.
3) If your mail order bride asks you for money to help with a family illness, like an operation, medication or anything, once again be suspect. This is one of the biggest scams and you would be surprised how often they are able to get money from men this way.
4) If your mail order bride offers to come to your country right away but requests money for a visa, airline tickets, and other expenses, please refrain from sending the money to them. It is not very easy at all in most countries for someone to simply get a tourist visa, and her family (if she has one) and as a smart woman herself, she should want YOU to come visit HER first. This is the easiest mail order bride scam, and an easy way to never see your money, or her, again.
5) If your mail order bride asks for money so she can learn English, keep in mind this is another tactic the scammers use to make easy money. If you have met the woman in person and have corresponded for a while and you are truly ready to make the next step, that is fine, but remember, it should be a reasonable sum. 100 dollars or less a month is acceptable, anything more is simply a scam. A scammer can ask for several hundred dollars a month for lessons right away, and many times a man feels it's good for her to learn English right away, so they pay the money. This is never a good idea until you have at least met the woman.
6) If your mail order bride send letters that are completely impersonal, and make no mention of questions you asked in your letters, you may have been sent a general form letter the scammers use and send out to everyone. If she uses "darling", "sweetie", and "my love" all the time instead of your name, this is very suspicious. They will only get personal after you agree to start sending some money, and after you stop, so do their letters. Write to her using a different name. See if her letters change or if she is indeed sending the same letter to everyone.
Agency Red Flags:
1) You see the same woman's picture listed with several agencies. Sometimes women have no idea that an agency is using their photo and profile, with an e-mail staff ready to write back to unsuspecting men who are interested. If you're going to use one of these services, understand that you may be writing to women who either do not exist, or have been planted on the site by the agency representing them to gain more business.
2) Extra costs can add up. Watch out for some of the mail order bride scams to get your money such as:
Mail forwarding This in itself is not a scam, and many legitimate agencies offering mail and email translation or forwarding. There is nothing wrong with that itself, but, it can make for a simple way to scam men for money. The best way to protect yourself is to ask for the woman's address and phone number right away. If this does not come to you within a short time, find another agency and drop that one.
Membership fees If you get stuck with the wrong agency, or one that goes out of business quickly, a long term membership will be of no value to you, and it's best to avoid those with large fees for their services, and ones that encourage long term memberships. After all, if their agency is so wonderful WHY would you need a long term membership? Shouldn't they be able to find you a mail order bride QUICKLY?
The Website's Red Flags If the website is on a free server, and their email address is a free service, and they have no real address on the website or phone number, it best to avoid them altogether. If the site looks very unprofessional yet has top-quality women, you need to ask yourself why, if they have such quality women do they not invest in a better website, pay to host it themselves, and have an legitimate email address, phone number and office address?
Services of the agency If the agency has numerous services, and many package deals that force you to buy them, this is another red flag. If they insist you use their translation services, mail forwarding, and "language lessons" this is definitely a red flag. If you never receive some of the things you are paying for, such as the addresses for the mail order brides, or they insist you correspond through them, for the girls protection, this is also a red flag. Often communication with the agency itself can be very poor. Many times complaints are not answers, and questions are just ignored. They may claim they lost your email or letter with the complaints or questions, but most likely the did not.
Money for Visas and tickets. The is the biggest money-making scam. They will tell you they will handle it all for you, obtain the mail order bride 's visa, make her travel arrangements for her. In most cases, they get the mans money, then say the bride changed her mind or their are numerous delays. The agency says the mail order bride is having health problems right now and cannot leave the country, and by then it is too late, the money is gone, and so is the mail order bride.
Variation No. 1 - individual scammers
* Scammer (man or woman) finds a set of pictures of an attractive girl 18-30 years old (or, if the scammer IS an attractive girl she uses her own pictures) and places a personal ad in as many international dating catalogs as possible.
* After a while the letters from single men from all over the world start arriving. The scammer replies positively to all of them and the process begins.
* Since a lot of letters need to be answered and sent, the scammer usually do not have the ability to answer all of them individually. Therefore a standard set of letters exists and the scammer typically uses these to correspond with all potential "preys".
* To speed up the process the scammer "falls in love" with each of the men writing, literally within a week or two of their first correspondence and becomes eager "to meet in person".
* By some wonderful coincidence the scammer's mother (father/brother/friend/uncle) is working in a travel agency (airport is a variation). Of course obtaining visa and tickets for the flight through them would be a natural suggestion. The same mother or father is working in a university and can put her in a student exchange group, or something. If NOBODY from her family is working in a travel agency/university, at least she would find some great tickets on sale for 50% off at the agency nearest to her home). So, the scammer tells the "fiancé" how much it will cost to get the visa, the tickets and the insurance and how to send the necessary sum to her/her uncle/her friend.
* After the money is in the scammer's hands, things may go one of two ways. She will see if anything else could be taken from this "fiancé", and sadly announce that something terrible happened with the money (the girl who was her friend has stolen the money, or her dear mommy got hit by a car and the money was needed for the hospital immediately, etc) and she will ask the "fiancée" to send the same sum again, or she may just drop the correspondence and never write to the man again.
* Since some people actually DO send money twice or even three times, the scammer will go on with her terrible accidents as long as the man does not loose his patience or wise up, and then of course she will disappear.
* After a while the same scammer will obtain a new set of pictures (or use the old ones if they have proven to be "profitable") and place a new set of ads in different international dating catalogs, and the story will repeat itself again and again.
Variation No. 2 - dishonest or mock marriage agency
* A couple of con artists will set up "an international marriage agency". To begin with they will make some shootings of professional or semi-professional models or just attractive girls of different ages, and maybe make a few videos with girls introducing themselves with whatever name they will be told to use. The girls may have a very little idea what this for and just want their three or five dollars per picture (maybe more if nude or half-nude). Also the ad will be placed in all local papers that a new marriage agency offers an opportunity to get married in Germany and US/Canada, and therefore all pretty young single girls are invited for interview. This way the agency actually gets some real girls and real addresses. Then some free or cheap web site and free or public e-mail address will be obtained and the process will begin.
* It is a very common practice for an international marriage agency to offer their clients some additional services like translation of the correspondence, mail forwarding, flowers and gifts delivery, English lessons and sometimes even obtaining the girl's visa and tickets "at discount prices". The scammers will not only provide these services, but they will often insist on using only their services, and no outside interpreters or flower deliveries are allowed.
* If a client buys an address of a real lady, they would insist on using their translation services and easily take control over the content of the letters. If a client buys a photo of a model who is long gone, the agency will correspond with him as if they were the girl and the client will never know the difference. In this case prewritten letters are usually used.
* To make sure they will get paid for their efforts, the agency will start to push the girls to ask their men for "financial help", money for the internet, money for sick family members and so on. In some extreme cases the agency would actually add this money requests to the girl's letters without the girls knowledge. Or, if it would be completely necessary to inform the girl about the money requests, the agency would just force the girl to confirm money transfers but keep the money for themselves. The girl, who dreams of getting married aboard completely dependent on the "agency", and would probably do whatever they force her to, by naivety or by strong wish to get married at any costs.
* Sometimes to get paid even more, the agency would force the girl to correspond with as many men as possible, even if she has no interest in them or has already chosen the one whom she likes the most. The agency is making a good chunk of their money on flowers, mail forwarding and translations - so they are pushing their profits from one "girl" to the limits. They promise the girl, that when she will leave to get married, they will help her apologize to her other "fiancés" and to explain that she has already "found her Mr. Right"
* After a while the usual request for visa and tickets money will come. The agency will ask you to send the money ($1500-$3000) via Western Union so they could "send the girl to you". Usually the request is very "urgent" and the opportunity to buy the tickets immediately will be emphasized. Or the request for money will come from the "girl" herself, but she would urge you to buy the tickets from the "agency".
* If you send the money, things will probably go by this scenario: the agency would "find out" while applying for the visa there were some difficulties and some more money would be needed to complete the process. Then, the process is complete but the visa didn't arrived yet, so there is a further delay. Then the tickets got more expensive and there a few more hundreds are needed to be able to buy them. After that some other problems will occur requiring more cash from you. At the end if the girl IS real and wishing to meet you, you may actually see your fiancée arriving. If the girl never being real or was writing to you only because the agency "advised" her to do so, you will just receive a short notification that she has changed her mind and does not wish to come any more. Since nowhere on their web site was there a word about refunds, you may try to contact them for a few months, but the chance to get the money back is close to zero.
To read more about other men's personal experiences with some dishonest agencies go tohttp://www.womenrussia.com/blackpage1.htm#amour1 .
How do I spot a scam?
Actually, in most cases it is not difficult at all, and if you know what things to look for, you will be almost scam-proof on your own.
Again, there are two different scam structures, so we will discuss both of them.
1 - If a scammer is an individual
* Because the letters are prewritten, they are VERY generic. Most of the time they just create the appearance of a personal letter, and as such consist mainly of long descriptions of what happened today, "girl's" favorite things to do, etc ("today I have been eating a fruit salad. I love fruit salads and eat then often").
* 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 will not appear anywhere in the letter. Instead, there will be lots of "sweet darling", "my new friend", "honey", "my love" and anything like this. Your name will be only mentioned once or twice at the beginning or the end of the letter.
* Your name appear to be in a different font than the rest of the letter.
* Sometimes the questions you have asked don't answered at all or are answered a few letters later - sometimes because there is too much correspondence going on the girl have forgotten who asked what, or sometimes because you asked the "wrong" questions.
* The girl asks you some questions you have discussed before (for example, she would ask you if you like this and that while you have told her before that you do like it).
* The girl will make some little mistakes like mentioning different dates of her birthday, or different color of her eyes or hair, than the girl in the picture has.
* The girl will start to develop some strong feelings toward you within an unusually short period of time - less than a week of correspondence or less than two weeks. 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 talk a lot about trust and understanding, telling you that she always trusts people she is dealing with. That is supposed to make you think that she herself is a very honest person.
* The girl sends you a picture with every letter.
* The pictures has numbers like 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 "love" will grow stronger with every single letter and in a week or so she will be completely crazy about you. Again, this would be very unusual for honest Russian girls who know that the real feelings need time to develop and to be tested.
* She will start sending more and more erotic 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 about sending a picture of themselves in their underwear to a person they hardly know. They probably wouldn't have such pictures ready at all.
* The girl will start describing an urgent desire to meet you in person within a month or so of correspondence.
* Your suggestion of coming to her country to meet her first is for some reason rejected. 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. Not to mention that a tourist visa is almost for a marriage-age Russian woman to obtain, and the K-1 fiancé visa requires you to have met face to face in the last two years. This means virtually every successful and "real" relationship requires the man to travel to Russia to meet the girl.
* 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 went ahead and applied 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 will probably not even know how to apply for a visa. Most probably, an honest girl will leave the problem of obtaining a visa for her to you (since she most likely will first need an invitation from you anyway). This point also shows the girl's very little knowledge about getting the visa. 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. You would hear him laughing loudly.
* The girl went ahead and paid some amount already, so the process would begin (usually $20-$50 of her own "reserve" money). This way she could be sure that you will definitely send the rest of the sum needed for visa, so her own money will not get wasted.
* She gives you a VERY detailed instructions about sending money via Western Union. ("You will need my full name - and it is such and such. Then they will give you a 10-digit number. I will need this number to receive the money"). Why is she so familiar with the process? Her "friend" has received money this way from her fiancé... Or works in a bank. Or something.. ;-) Again, very easy point to notice. Ask a few hundred common Russian girls what they know about receiving the money through Western Union, and a very few of them will have any idea of what Western Union is. But scammers do know Western Union's requirements very well.
* 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))
* If you do not really want HER to buy the tickets, she stubbornly insists on buying them herself anyway.
* 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" victims. Probably, they won't send the money anyway. But they will still keep the correspondence going just in case you change your mind.
* If you do send the sum required, the announcement of some unexpected additional expenses comes shortly. It may be an increase in the cost of the tickets, some problems with the visa process, some terrible tragedy with girl's relatives or money just got stolen. The problems are usually unexpected and not the girl's fault.
* Since you started sending money, some evil eye is on the girl and her family. The money got stolen again and again, her mother is hit by a car and needs an operation, she herself got a heart attack and is dieing in hospital without necessary medications.... the only way out is stop sending the money before her family become completely extinct! ;-)
* Other things to watch out for: the girl starts asking for Internet-cafe money very shortly after the correspondence begins; in the first few letters she describes you the exact amount of her salary ($60 dollars almost always); she is 26 years old and a virgin; her e-mail changes frequently and without particular reason; she gives her info necessary for wire transfers even if you did not ask for it; she initiates the visa talk; the letters are very poetic and passionate, but not too detailed; her mother (father/brother/uncle) is very ill and dying in front of her eyes (or "on her eyes" as it is usually said); she used the word "structure" in her first letters to you ("I liked your structure very much", "I have looked your structure" - these phrases have been found in a number of scammer letters); she loves eating fruit salad; she wants to be a professional model.
You are being scammed if:
The person you are writing to is listed on some catalogs even after she states that she likes me and wants to meet me?
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 you 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 $50 - $60 per month. Even given that an hour in the Internet cafe costs only $1 (more often more that that), how much must she love you to spend a third of her monthly income to be able to write you each month?
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.
The agency requested you to pay something to be able to continue writing to her.
Unless it is a scheduled membership renewal - yes, it is a strong scam alert. Ask the agency to give you the girl's address or phone so you could contact her on your own. If they refuse to do so, just stop using that agency (and please report that agency to us - we will place it on the Possibly Dishonest Agencies list). If your wish to continue your correspondence with the girl is still very strong, use one of our investigation services - we may be able find out if the "girl" exists at all and to locate her address and phone if possible.
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 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, we can check that agency for you easily