Not sure if its a set up

by Vincent
(Philadelphia, PA)

I met a lady from Ukraine on a dating site. We exchanged personal emails right away. We have been emailing each other for over 3 months. She states that she does not have a computer at home and can only email from her work.

She has never asked for money but has asked if I could come visit her. She has sent me many photos, She has Skyped from work only 2x in 3 months. No voice,just video. She states she has no mic at work(or cannot use it)

We only communicate 1-2 x per week by email. I checked many Russian /Ukraine dating sites and only found her on one. She did have a video on that site that I viewed. I Google searched her photos and they do not come up as a scam. She just told me last week that she has 3 weeks vacation starting this week and she wants me to come visit.

I asked her about details when would be a good time for me to visit and she just responded she will be available until June 30th. She said to just make my plans and she will meet me at Donetsk Airport and she will arrange an inexpensive apt for me in her home city Mariupol. I am concerned about making plans due to our lack of direct communication. What do you think?

Bob's Answer:

This one is a little more difficult than most "is this a scam?" scenarios I'm presented with.

It's true that some women don't have computers at home, though that number is decreasing fast. And if at her workplace she sits where others can hear her it would make sense that she would be OK turning on video but not use speakers or mic.

But it could be a deal where she's going to try to get you to send money in advance of your trip to set up apartment, or claim she requires the help of a translator for your dates, etc. Don't go for either of those.

But even if these kinds of scams are not the case at all here, the thing you mention as your main concern would be my concern: The lack of direct communication.

This doesn't mean it's a scam. Many women just know that men will write forever, and that can only advance a relationship so far before a face-to-face meeting is required. So they will "pay their dues" by writing for a while, but then they want to know when you are going to visit.

But if you haven't had enough communication to really feel like you know her, trust her, and have a connection with her, then what you're doing here is going on a $3000-$4000 blind date. Unless you have that kind of cash and vacation time to just throw into the wind like that, I'd want to be more sure.

But I do have a few questions that will help detect possible scams...

1) Does she "interact" in the letters? In other words, when you ask questions or make comments, does she address them, or does she just seem to say generic things? And especially does she answer questions you put IN THE MIDDLE of your messages? Scammers don't read messages except maybe the opening sentence or two.

2) Does she SPEAK English? If so, ask for her phone number. If she says she does not have a cell phone, she's LYING. Guaranteed! And if she says it's too expensive, she's lying, guaranteed. In Ukraine ALL incoming cell calls are FREE. If she expresses concern about her English and being able to communicate by phone, set up a translated phone conversation using English-Russian Translations. This is a U.S. company in Florida founded by a Russian woman who used to be an agency translator in Russia.

Basically if she gives any excuse for not being able to talk by phone, BE AFRAID :-)

3) On what site did you meet? You don't have to tell me if you don't want, but if it was at Elena's Models the chances that she's a scammer of any kind are pretty slim. If it's Russian Cupid/Ukraine Date, did you follow the advice at that review (click the link)?


In answer to the additional information provided in the comment:

1) The fact that she answers your questions and has no generic, pre-written material, and that you are actually interacting is good evidence that she is real and less likely a scam.

2) Just because SHE never mentioned talking on the phone doesn't mean you can't :-) ASK FOR HER CELL PHONE NUMBER, and ask when is a good time to call. Just say "Hey, we've only ever written and I'd love to hear your voice. Do you have a cell number? When would be a good time for me to call?" Seriously, your biggest concern you mentioned above is your lack of direct contact, so initiate some!

Read what I said above... If she gives any excuses, your warning lights should be flashing.

3) I have never heard of Cherry Blossoms, but I Googled and read a little and didn't find any major issues, but gosh, the fact that she is on Anastasia Date SHOULD concern you very much! If you read my review of AnastasiaWeb (same company as Anastasia Date) you know what I think of them.

I know a girl from Ukraine who worked for a local Anastasia affiliate agency. She told me many of the kinds of scams they routinely pulled. She was a translator and the agency encouraged the women, some who were really just partners with the agency, to lure men to visit.

They were in a medium sized city 4 hours from Kiev by car, and one thing they often did was agree to arrange to meet the victim at the Kiev airport with a hired car. They made arrangements with the driver to quadruple the price and give them the extra.

Then, the girl claimed she didn't speak English and needed a translator that SHE could arrange (my friend). That was an additional $10/hour or so for every hour they were together.

AND, for dates they often took the man to restaurants where they had arranged for a kickback. For in-town taxis, same deal: Kickback. You pay "full price", later they meet the taxi driver to collect their cut.

Disreputable local agencies push their female clients to draw visitors. This is a very widespread practice.

Scared yet? I would be.

Fortunately there are preventions even for these kinds of scams... I was in touch with a girl from Nikolaev Ukraine once... same deal, 2 emails/week for a few months, and she wanted to know when I would visit. I started speculating about travel plans. But I mentioned in passing that I actually had a friend in Ukraine who worked as a translator (same girl who worked for the AWEB affiliate). The girl said "When you come I hope you are OK if I use my own interpreter. I'm more comfortable with her." Ya, and I was born yesterday :-) I told her I preferred my own translator and really would not be willing to use any other. I never heard from her again.

So there's YOUR work-around. If you want to be REALLY sure EVERYTHING is on the up-and-up, read, re-read, and re-read again, study, and memorize every word on Avoiding Russian Women Scams. There will be a practical exam, and if you fail, the fine is $4000 (collected on-site in Ukraine).

In your case, if you want to be completely sure of her motives, suggest meeting in Kiev. It's the easiest city in Ukraine to get to from the U.S. And, it's the easiest city in Ukraine to visit... there are countless guides and services. Just tell her "I've heard that Kiev is a beautiful city with many sites to see, and besides, I can fly there with only one stop... I really prefer meeting you there... Would that work for you?...."

By following the advice at Avoiding Russian Women Scams of "Follow the Money", you remove the scam. You make all your own arrangements, you get local advice as to where to go on a date, etc. There are local guide in Kiev that can help you with all this. Look up Daisy Bride. They are an awesome, honest local agency there. They can hook you up with an apartment, a translator if needed, a ride to/from airport. They can make suggestions on where to go on dates.

And if they can't offer these services, let me know and I'll find someone who can.

When YOU pick where to go, where to spend your money, make all your own arrangements (or get someone else's help who has no connection with your girl), then it may still be an expensive trip (you will have to pay the agency for their help, but you hire them directly to work for YOU - THAT is not a scam), but at least you know your girl isn't profiting from luring you to Ukraine.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions...


Comments for Not sure if its a set up

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Not sure-follow up
by: Vincent

Hi Bob,

She does answer all questions that I ask. There is nothing generic about her emails. She also asks about my life, likes, and dislikes and she has never mentioned anything about being in love with me. None of our emails have been sexual in nature. Just friendly get to know you type. In over 3 months she has never asked for money, just asked when I can come to visit her so we can get to know each other.

Since we have never spoken I asked about her English. She says it is fair but good enough that we will be able to communicate. She has never mentioned talking on the phone. I actually met her on Cherry Blossoms.

Odd because it's basically a Filipino site. I checked all the Ukraine/Russian sites and the only one she is on is Anastasia Date.(this concerns me) She does have a video on there and I did view it with free credits. What do you think?

Thanks Bob!

[Bob's Answer:]

See my answer in your main post. I will update my answer there taking into account this new information.

Not Sure-follow up
by: Vincent

Hey Bob,

About her being in cahoots with Anastasia Date. I didn't meet her thru Anastasia. She is on AD but I met her on Cherry Blossoms. I have never communicated with her on AD and she doesn't know I'm on there. All of our communication has been thru personal email. Can she lure me over as a free agent and still try to get a cut from hotel, restaurants and car service? I'm just trying to figure this out. Should I confront about her relationship with AD and if she disappears I'll have my answer. You have opened my eyes and been a huge help. Thanks Bob!!


[Bob's Answer:]

In order to make this more readable and get around the software's size limitation on comments, I'm going to create a whole new post for this question... Watch for that in the same place where you posted your original post.

I will delete this comment/question after a few days since it will also be viewable as a full post.

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