Am I dealing with a professional Russian scammer?

by Alejandro

Hi Bob , first of all thank you for this space and your advice. I met a woman online trough a free dating site with no intermediaries. I first made the contact, she replied positively. It was about two months ago, and after about 5 or 6 letters she asked for my personal mail. I gave it to her and we moved from the website to our personal mails. By now I'm almost totally convinced she is real.

I mean she really exists. I know this for sure because we videochat on Skype several times a week. What worries me that she might be a professional scammer is that she proposed to come to my country in a very short time. She does not talk about love. She says that she wants to come for vacations to see if things works well for us, then go back to Russia and make the final decision.

The funny thing is that when I say that I would like to go meet her first she does not appear to like the idea. She says that I can go and she will receive me but she won't feel comfortable since her apartment is really small and poor..... so she is not refusing me to go first but she encourages a lot the idea of her coming to me first...... here are some facts:

1. I am 29, from Mexico, Airplane Pilot and Air Traffic Controller, she knows this but I have made myself clear about I am so distant to be a millionaire man. I got to say I'm a good looking man, and I have no problem getting local girls, so I don't see an obvious attempt of scam in this.

2. She is 28 from a mid-size city in Russia. She is divorced no kids.

3. We exchange letters every single day, and the letters are long and descriptive both ways, detail and effort are put into every letter.

4. We videochat on Skype and discuss things we have written in letters, so at least I know she read them very carefully. She has no problem answering a Skype call anytime.

5. We exchange text messages to our personal cellphones.

6. She has no problem answering a phone call to her cell phone anytime.

7. Her IP address matches the city she says she is from.

8. I did research on all websites I could found about scams, on her email, name, IP address etc, I couldn't find anything. She seems to be clean.

9. I did research on the internet on her name and email and found a profile on a social networking site. I compared the information she told me with the profile I found and everything was ok. She is not lying on anything so far. (her profile was submitted in 2007)

10. I Google all her photos. They are clean and authentic. I see her when I video chat on skype so I know its her.

11. She has no problem with getting in touch with me. As I told, she can pick up calls anytime, she has internet at work and at home.

12. Don't ask me how, but I was able to find the company she works at, and confirmed she works there, it is a serious company, it's actually a bank.

13. I found her resume on a website and matches correctly all the information.

14. Don't ask me how again, but I found her school records of a Russian university, even her results of some school tests... she is not lying about it also.

15. I told her I'm willing to pay her expenses to come to Mexico, but I will not send overseas a single dollar. She agreed. I told her I will buy the tickets myself on the Internet. She is OK with this.

16. Russians have no problems at all for entering Mexico, so she can not ask for any weird fee or something. I told her I got a friend that works for customs and immigration in Cancun international airport, so she will not have any problem... she is ok with this too.

I could go on and on with facts that point to a real thing. The only thing that worries me is how quick she wants to come.... only after 8 or 10 days of exchanging letters, skype, and cellphone calls.....

Bob I'm totally convinced she is real, but I worry because I have read stories where the girl was real, but then turned out to be a professional scammer.

She agrees that I would not send any money, and agrees that I buy the tickets myself. She agrees to pay her expenses in Russia (her flight from her city to Moscow and back) and that I will only pay her ticket from Moscow to Cancun and back, and of course her expenses for two weeks in Mexico. I'm afraid to receive the economical disaster phone call a day before her arrival, and in which case I will not send her any money of course, but in which case I would lose the cost of the airplane tickets.

Bob, please tell me what do you think about all this situation, thank you so much in advance. Best regards.

Bob's Answer:

Wow, you're THOROUGH and well-reasoned! It definitely sounds like you've ruled out the easily detectable Russian dating scams where nothing is "real", but you still sense that something isn't right based how quickly she wants to come to your country.

I agree with your concern, mostly because of where you live (tropical climate, probably planning to spend time in Cancun/Cozumel). To a Russian woman, these things make you like a millionaire! She may be real, and she may like you, but she may be much more excited about escaping to your lush, tropical paradise for a few weeks away from her icy, frozen tundra :-) Although this certainly isn't what you really want, technically it's not a scam. She WOULD show up, she would spend time with you, etc. Her motives just may be a little off.

But I see a few other things in this story that also support this theory.

One is the fact that you've actually told her you'll never send money, yet she's still in communication with you. That would offend most sincere women who were truly interested in YOU (as opposed to some material benefit associated with you). In other words, you've implicitly told her that you don't really trust her that much, but she's OK with that!

Another concern is her excuse for not wanting your first meeting to be in her city: Her apartment is small and poor? So? Who says you have to stay in her apartment? Most (though not all) sincere Russian women would actually not want you to stay with them in their apartment on your first visit.

Personally, I think the simple solution to all of this is to just take the meeting in Mexico off the table. It's too much of a prize, especially if that meeting is near Cancun/Cozumel.

My first preference would be to meet in her city and stay in a hotel or rented apartment. Don't stay with her, and DON'T send money for her to arrange your accommodations. If she offers, just say "Thanks for your offer to help, but I don't want to trouble you... I'll just stay at the ___ hotel". That takes all ulterior motives off the table, and it's how most sincere Russian women would prefer it anyway.

If you offer such a plan and she resists, listen carefully to the reasons.

BUT, if her resistance is over the concern that there's not much to do or see in her city, then there is an acceptable alternative.... Meet in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, or some other larger Russian city. That way the trip has value to you in the event that she stands you up or things fail very quickly. You'll be in a large city with lots to do, and maybe even many other women to meet. BUT, if she's sincere, she'll probably be thrilled to be your guide.

NOTE: Pay careful attention to the rules in Russia. You will need a visa, AND you need to "register" in any city you visit for longer than three days.

I hope that helps!

Comments for Am I dealing with a professional Russian scammer?

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Alejandro in Mexico
by: Mike from Tampa Bay

I take it that you are a native from Mexico. Though in reading your story, where you from doesn't matter. What I picked up was that you and this lady have only been communicating for 8 to 10 days, and now she is wanting to meet face to face. This seems to be a little premature. Rushing a relationship can only lead to problems. Though your motives maybe upright or pure, she maybe forcing something you are not ready for. She has been married before and may have rushed into that relationship. What or why does she want to be in this relationship: just to be married, or is she in love with love, or is she insecure and in need of a man, or etc.? The friendship (through communication) is the most important thing a couple needs to develop, not the physical. I would think you and this young lady need to 6 to 12 more months before talking about a face to face visit. Speaking from experience: when working in Mexico and Central America, I asked advice and was told to take things slow, which I agreed on, but she was aggressive, rushed things, and had ulterior motives to get out of her country and into America (hind-sight) and not in love with me and she didn't understand a whole family as I had had growing up. Alejandro, if this is meant to be, put the brakes on and ask the young lady to wait for a few more months or a year. It will happen in time when the time is right. You are smart not to let money be exchanged.

Alejandro in Mexico
by: Mike from Tampa Bay

One more thing that I eluded to concerning backgrounds. Make sure you thoroughly understand each others culture, not just an acknowledgement (head knowledge), but through experience. Talk & discuss all cultural issues & differences. Opposites attract, but it is similarities that keep a relationship together. Make sure you all are on the same page. ASSUME NOTHING!!! Example questions: Do you come from a two parent home? Are your parents committed to each other and the family? Make sure your backgrounds are very much the same. Does she or you have the same expectations? Will she work if you get together? Or will she stay at home? Is the front door to your home a castle door with a draw bridge or a revolving door where people are coming in & out all the time? Is this okay with you or okay with her? Some people like privacy when coming home and some like people in & out of their home with no privacy or invitation. Who will handle the money? What about religion? Are you a liberal, moderate, or conservative theologically and politically? What about her? Who takes out the garbage? Who cooks, who does the dishes? Do you prefer a straight & clean house or messy & cluttered? Do you want children? What are your views on correction or punishment of children? Who will do it her or you? DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING !!! How does she/you handle her/your emotions? Angry - throwing things? Beat(physically or verbally) on another person? Are you or her emotional mature? Able to discuss differences calmly & with respect? Alejandro, I think you understand what I'm trying to say. Be Careful. I think you have been so far. Keep your emotions in check and make sure her emotions are in check as well. Be ready & able to stop the relationship, if things are not in agreement with your background or lifestyle.

by: Bob

I added my comment and concerns to Alejandro's post, but for what Mike says, remember that when an attractive Russian/Ukrainian woman puts a profile on a dating site, she will often get TONS of interest from men who will NEVER meet them face to face. Many men who write them are just lonely or bored, and the distant communication with these women relieves these feelings enough such that they never actually follow through on taking it any further. These women want more than that, hence their interest in real meetings. It really isn't a sign of desperation or anything like that.

And the reason many Russian/Ukrainian women seek to be in a relationship IS TO BE MARRIED, and that's because it's what their culture (and maybe hard-wired human instinct?) tells them to do. For the most part, a single Russian/Ukrainian woman wants to be married because it is the natural course.

And I'd disagree with the counsel to spend 6-12 months talking before a face-to-face visit. No serious/sincere Russian/Ukrainian woman seeking marriage would ever endure this, only a scammer would!

And many of those Are-we-on-the-same-page questions are great to ask... EVENTUALLY, but not before a first meeting! These are the kinds of questions a counselor often brings up during premarital counseling.


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