Just an inkling of doubt
I met this Ukrainian woman on Fdating free dating site. I initiated the first contact. She wrote back and wanted to go to Skype very quickly to communicate. At first we had a difficult time because she said that she doesn't have her computer any more and she would have to use her sister's, who lives in a flat next to hers. The woman I am communicating with lives with her mom and 10 year old son.
We did start communicating on Skype every few days when her sister would allow her to use the computer. We exchanged personal email address also and were writing too. The Skype was the main form of communication and we had fun and easy time talking.
I decided to offer to buy her a computer so we could use Skype more. I was going to buy one online and have it sent to her. She suggested sending her the money and she would buy one because it would be easier.
I was uncomfortable with this, but I researched it online and her story about being easier seemed to pan out. She told me how much she needed and it was more than I was expecting. I researched it online again and it seemed to pan out again. When I decided to send her the money via WU I asked her full name and it was different than what was given on the website and her email. She explained it that her father called the first name and her document (real) name was the second she gave me. She said she likes the first name better.
I sent her the money and she said that she bought the computer. Since then we have been on Skype every day and are communicating very well having a good time. I am writing her emails daily, but she only writes back every so often because she says that she has a hard time writing at work.
She works as an operator for a taxi service and has to work 12 hour days 6 days a week. I am ok with the infrequent emails because we still talk on Skype every day, usually for about an hour at a time. Once she was typing on her computer and it looked like she was typing on a separate keyboard, but I though she had bought a laptop. I might have been mistaken.
Today I asked for her address because I wanted to send her a gift for Valentine's Day. She said that she would rather have me send her the money I would spend on the gift in stead of the gift because her mother and her are not financially well off. I told her that it was hard for me because we had not met in person yet. She actually started crying because she was trying to explain to me that they are poor and have a very hard time making it. They were real tears. Her mother works part time cleaning hotels, so I can see that they probably do not have much money.
I actually can see her point. If I was going to spend the money anyway, why not just send it to her. She has never outright asked for money, it is always after I offer to buy her something. She seems very genuine and I have seen her meager surroundings on Skype. She has shown me her flat. We have been communicating for about 5 weeks and she does like to send me hugs and kisses. I have talked with her about coming to see her and she is all for it. I told her when I can and she said that she should be able to arrange at work to have the time off. My gut tells me that she is genuine. She hid her profile in the site now also. I have looked for her on other sites and have found nothing.
Ok what do you think?
Everyone may be shocked, but I do not think this is a scam. Every one of her answers seems plausible to me, and almost none of the telltale signs of a scam seem present. Yes, she does suggest sending money, but even there her justification is believable.
I would be a lot more concerned about this being a scam if after you sent her the money for the computer she disappeared and no longer communicated with you, or started talking about wanting to come see you in the U.S., has a visa, but only needs $1800 for airfare, etc. But none of that is there. And the fact that you have so much face to face time on Skype and don't have more suspicions counts for something. That's half the point of insisting on Skype video chats.
I'm glad you "researched" some of those things and found them to be plausible... For example, it would definitely be easier for everyone if she just had the money to buy the computer. First, no online vendor will ship a computer to Ukraine, so you would need to have it shipped to you then you would need to ship it. And the chances that it would make it in one piece (if at all) are slim, and if it did make it in one piece, she would need to pay taxes on it before she could collect it. And yes, things like that cost more there... probably at least 1.5 times more for the same unit that you can get here.
I also believe her work story... I know people there who work like that... 10-12 hour days, 6 days/week, all for ridiculously pathetic pay. Not everyone has it that badly, but I definitely know it's realistic.
So right... She may earn $300-$400/month for those hours and you want to send $125 flowers for Valentine's Day! Just sending her the money is a much nicer gift.
If you've read any other questions/answers here, you see that I very rarely answer "Is this a scam?" questions negatively, but this story sounds plausible to me... at least worthy of hanging in longer to see where it goes.
But there are a few suggestions I'd offer...
1) Be careful about insinuating that you don't trust her. If she's "real" (sincere intentions/motives), this could destroy a potentially great relationship and future.
2) Despite #1, be careful. If she does become more proactive about seeking money (i.e. she initiates), or the "needs" become more pricey, you may need to reconsider our evaluation here. Maybe she's a scammer, but much smarter than average (I don't think she's a scammer based on what you've said so far, but new evidence could warrant reconsideration :)
3) Assuming no new reasons for skepticism, and assuming that you in fact grow to trust more, MAKE A TRIP. And possibly be prepared to offer to help her offset lost pay for taking time off. To me it seems like the decent thing to do.
Anyway, I hope that helps. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to finally say "No, I don't think it's a scam" :)