Greencard Hunter?

by Ivan
(Raleigh, NC, USA)

25 days ago I met a 19 year old Russian girl from St. Petersburg on an international cultural exchange website. She messaged me first after viewing my profile and asked me for my whatsapp. We instantly clicked, she started sending me flirty messages. Things escalated fairly quickly and about 7 days later she asked if I wanted to be her boyfriend. I agreed and sent her a relationship request over Facebook but she told me that she would rather keep it private because of what her co-workers and others might say.

- I am a 19 year old Russian-American (American-born to Russian parents) undergrad college student studying compsci and she knows this. She is also a student in a non-STEM (arts) field.

- We talk on the phone in Russian every day, and send each other text messages in English. Her phone has a Russian area code. She says she doesn't have Skype.

- She sent me a couple of emails/letters in Russian and I usually send her ones in English.

- She accepted my friend request over Facebook. Her account has been active for over 3 years and she has a reasonable number of friends. The photos on her FB match the ones from her profile on the website where we met. Afterwards, when I called her, she mentioned the friend request.

- She has shared many things with me about her ambitions including her dream of moving to Los Angeles and starting a career there.

- She has never asked me for money

- We have many of the same interests and tastes in music/literature. I do not feel like she is "out of my league" or anything like that.

- I asked her for her address a couple of days after we met but she didn't want to give it to me.

I must admit that I fell pretty hard for her and at one point told her that I love her and think about her constantly over the phone. She said that it is too early to talk about feelings for each other and that we should meet first. Despite this, we regularly send each other romantic texts.

She says that she will come to the states to visit me summer of next year when she saves up some money. Initially, she wanted to visit me over winter break but her university holiday was cut short. She has (supposedly) been to LA before and has a picture of herself with the Santa Monica Pier in the background on Facebook. We have also considered the option of me visiting her in St. Petersburg. She seems more inclined to visit me instead of me visiting her.

At this point, I am fairly certain I have been corresponding with a real 19 year old girl. I am suspicious of her intentions though. Is she going to try to get me to send her money at some point? Or maybe she is a "green card hunter" and wants to marry me for a citizenship in the U.S only to promptly divorce me? She jokingly brought up marriage once and I jokingly replied that I would at least like to see her in person before I put a ring on her.

What should I ask her or say to confirm or erase my suspicions? I appreciate any input.

Bob's Comment:

Wow, that's a tough one! It fits almost none of the elements involved in other situations where I'm asked whether or not a situation is some type of scam.

You're the same age, she's not "out of your league", you did not meet through some pay-per-letter scam dating website, you talk on the phone regularly, etc., etc., etc. Non of these are true in the most typical scam situations.

Further, nothing else in what you've written here triggers my scam alert. It's reasonable for her to decline the "relationship request" on the grounds of privacy. The "falling in love too fast" thing... maybe a little fishy, but she's 19, and 19 year olds do that sometimes. The lack of Skype... That's a little fishy because I do know that almost everyone in larger more modern Russian/Ukrainian cities has access to inexpensive high speed internet. But it's far from conclusive proof of anything.

That DOESN'T necessarily mean her intentions are pure. But it does mean that the situation is a little further from the center of my "expertise", but I'll try to offer a few helpful comments/suggestions...

First, BE VERY CAREFUL about trying to "test her". There's simply nothing to gain from it. Almost surely she'll recognize it as a test, and if she actually complies and attempts to pass the test, THAT probably is the strongest evidence that she does NOT have sincere intentions. But if she is "real", then she'll decline to take the test. If you can't gain adequate confidence about her intentions via other means, just walk away.

Second, YOU VISIT HER FIRST. That really should be a non-negotiable. That whole wanting to visit you "after she saves enough money"... That's usually a request for money. It's less obvious than some cases, but I'm sure you were supposed to offer to pay for her trip. By visiting her first you take a lot of risk out of the equation. It completely removes any chance that the day before her flight you'll get that last minute call saying that something happened such that the money she needed to pay for the balance of the airfare didn't come through, and that if you could wire her the balance she would be able to pay you back very soon, etc., etc., etc.

And even further, you visiting her first gives you a much more accurate, realistic opportunity to get to know her in her "natural habitat", not on a luxurious, exciting vacation (by her standards).

Also, just mentioning that you're going to visit her will elicit a reaction from her that will give you useful information. If she argues and argues that she wants her first meeting to be in the U.S., you should put that in the "minus" column.

Carefully read Avoiding Russian Women Scams and follow all the suggestions that apply to you (you can probably start at the sub heading "Meet in her city").

And finally evaluating her long term motives will be nearly impossible and there's really no way to definitively know in advance. All you can do is spend time with her and make good, objective observations, and draw your own conclusions.

BUT, HAVING SAID THAT, watch out for this "dream" of living in L.A. and pursuing a career there. That's the scariest thing in your report (to me). It doesn't even mean that she is a "green card hunter", but maybe just that she has young, wild, unrealistic expectations about life here.

I hope that helps! If you have any follow up questions or comments, please just add a comment to this post and I'll answer there.

Comments for Greencard Hunter?

Click here to add your own comments

I agree
by: Dale

Bob is correct. And I can add that at 19, she has no idea what she really wants.

Sounds like you should insist on visiting her, and see what the reaction is.

I also agree that it smells a little like a long term goal of you being a stepping stone for a career in LA.

Put all your assets in some other name before you marry her.

But then that applies to any female.

by: Ivan

Thank you very much for your response. I read your column and will follow the advice. I forgot to mention that in one of the emails she sent me she talked about how she would like me to visit her in St. Petersburg and show me around. She also mentioned that her parents have a nice apartment. That was a couple of weeks ago though. Tomorrow I will tell her that I am going to visit during my spring break and see if she objects.

Even if she does turn out to be a suspicious character I would take it as a chance to meet lots of other Russian girls and have a fun vacation too! Maybe it occurred to her that I might do this which is why only talks about visiting me in the States now instead of vice versa. She probably thinks that if I was so quick to fall for her I will forget about her as soon as I leave the airport and see all of the other beautiful Russian girls haha.

As for the LA thing, she only casually mentioned it once, before she knew that I lived on the other coast, so I don't think she seriously considers it her future life plan or anything like that. I know that in Russia, most of the population live in the vicinity of big, famous cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg as opposed to small suburban towns so maybe she thinks it is common here too. Plus, she hasn't been anywhere in the States except for Cali so it is one of the only cities that she has experienced.

As for her long term intentions, it occurred to me even before you replied that it is something I will have to figure out on my own. My observation of Russian women who look for American men is that they are usually either very good potential life partners or manipulative gold diggers from hell. My gut feeling is that she is not a scammer but I will be on my guard until I get to know her in person.

RE: Greencard Hunter
by: Bob

Glad I could help!

And yeah, there are some things you'll never know in advance, but you can keep your eyes open for gold digger tendencies. I realize you are a student, but I don't know how "well-to-do" your family is. But if you're not especially wealthy one of the best ways to weed out gold diggers is to be real clear up front that there's no "gold" there to dig for :) Obviously you don't word it that way, but you can present to her a very conservative presentation of what your life is like.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Russian Scams QA.