E-mail tracing of Russian scammers

by Paul


I have been in contact with an alleged Russian lady for about 4 weeks, e-mails almost daily apart from Sundays as no home computer, (she says, then one turned up on the 7/7/13 allegedly from an internet cafe).

I have been in contact with money and romance scammers through a UK site, (all approached me first) and I am wary of this one and have found some useful tips on your site as well as other sites about how to trace an e-mail's origin.

When she first g-mailed me I was able to trace it back to Kirov in Russia just about 40 miles from where she says that she lives, so you think ok, you are in the country that you say you are, but now all the e-mails trace back to various parts of the US, Ireland and even the UK.

I have heard that more than one server could be involved sending an e-mail from country to country, but should an e-mail be still origin traceable at all times, or do the multiple server movements hide its original start point.

She is now looking at coming to visit me but no money mentioned yet.

Bob's Answer: Thanks for the question. Unfortunately tracing email origins isn't always a straightforward task, and no, and email's origination is not always traceable.

When someone is using a local mail client, like Microsoft Outlook, such that their emails are stored on their own PC, they are usually traceable via IP address.

But email sent through web-based mail providers GMail or Yahoo Mail are different. Last time I checked Yahoo mail actually does put the IP address of the email's originating computer, but GOOGLE DOES NOT. There are lot's of IP addresses in gmail headers, but they are just the IP addresses of each mail server along the way, and they are useless in even narrowing down to a geographical region. I'm even shocked that one of them did track to within 40 miles of her home city.

So for you that's good news and bad news. The good news is that the results you've found are meaningless and she may be who and where she claims. The bad news is that there's no way to verify this using IP addresses embedded in email headers. Also bad news is the fact that scammers now know this and consequently gmail is their email provider of choice.

Do you have her phone number? If not, ASK FOR IT. If she says she doesn't have a phone, she's lying. If she says it's too expensive to use the phone, she's lying. In Russia/Ukraine all incoming cell calls are FREE and UNLIMITED, and EVERYONE has a cell phone. No exceptions. If she claims any of that you can know with 100% certainty she's a scammer.

If the excuse is that she doesn't speak English and needs a translator, YOU arrange a three-party translated call (using YOUR selected translator, someone she doesn't know). See Russian Translations: Phone and Written and click on the links to translation services.

But even better still would be Skype. Now I will acknowledge that not all Russian women have access to Skype with webcams, but it's worth asking.

I hope that helps. Feel free to post any other questions you may have.

Comments for E-mail tracing of Russian scammers

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Exact senario
by: KC

Hey Paul: I am having the exact same experience as we speak, I am currently speaking with a Russian women who I met off of Match.com, I approached her first. She seems very legit and I to have traced headers and so on and they all seem to come up with the same routes. So I was thinking okay, she must be legit. She says she lives in small village and has no internet in her room that she rents. So being Russia I believe this, because I know Russia is behind on their internet advancements. We to have been engaged in conversations about 4 weeks and their is talk now of her wanting to come here, but she has not mentioned any money yet either. So my question: When she mentions coming and ask for the money, to call her bluff, could I tell her that I will buy the ticket and have it waiting at the desk for her, intentions, she will not go for this and bluff will be called. Or what are your thoughts on validating this relationship. And is it possible to actually meet a real Russian legit women on Match.com.

RE: Exact Scenario
by: Bob (Site Owner)

Read my whole section on scams.

Most supposedly Russian women on match are going to be scammers.

And everything in your story points that way. Russia isn't THAT behind on technology. The whole reason scammers say they are in small rural villages where there is no internet is simply to preclude your request to meet on Skype.

And if she supposedly wants to visit, it's a scam. Even if she says she'll pay for the trip herself, it's a scam. There will be last minute unexpected surprises and she'll need you to wire money.

If you REALLY want to pursue a Russian/Ukrainian woman, read my site... it's free, and it tells you the whole thing.

For THIS relationship... Don't waste your time. If you REALLY believe it's real, visiting her in her city is the only realistic way of pursuing it without getting scammed.

Match is a Scammers Site...
by: Anonymous

I contacted three women on match one was located in Montana and the others said that they lived in Russia, all of them scams asking for money. I traced the IP address for the two russian women and it showed Finland as being the source. I carried on email exchanges daily with one and asked her if we could speak on the phone she replied she had no use for a phone and not to send her expensive gifts such as a cell phone. After one month she professed her love for me and needed visa money, I sent nothing but was polite, I new from the start it was most likely a scam, even hinted to the Finland IP source address but she played it off well.

[Bob's Comment:]

Question, when you write these girls do their profiles state Russia as their location, or is that declared in the text of the profile? AND, if the later, do you obtain their contact information directly in their profile in coded form ("My e mai l addre ss is olga a t yahoo")?

If it is declared only in their profile, and if you get their contact information via this method, then DUH, of course it's a scam!

That doesn't make Match a scammer's site.

And if you spend any time reading Russian Scams Q & A you'll see that I often explain that ANY Russian/Ukrainian woman who claims to not have a phone is LYING. And that's a 100% thing.

As for IP addresses, that game has changed over the years. Anything I previously said about tracking an IP address on an email is effectively nullified.

I am in Kiev, Ukraine as I write this. I have been here for almost three months now. And here's the thing... Sometimes when I browse to a site I am blocked because of my location. Or, ecommerce sites want to make my default currency UAH (Ukrainian currency). In order to get what I need I use a FREE "VPN" service that enables me to specify where in the world I want to appear to be from. If I pick "U.S.", I get an IP address in the U.S.

SO, ignore IP geolocation. It's meaningless.

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