Russian Dating Scams
To those outside Russia/Ukraine it might appear that Russian dating scams are EVERYWHERE! And it is true that if you enter this pursuit by web searching and selecting random search results you will almost surely encounter scams.
But the funny thing is that the ubiquity/omnipresence of Russian dating scams is MUCH SMALLER than it appears from outside Russia/Ukraine. It's just that those perpetrating the scams are highly visible and do a LOT of volume.
But dating scams are EASILY AVOIDABLE with just a little common sense combined with a little guidance. In the relatively short history of my site it is clear that Russian dating scams is the subject of greatest interest to my readers. That's a little frustrating to me because scams are so easy to avoid. Far too many men become obsessed with determining if the woman with whom they are currently corresponding is "real" that their quest to find a partner never reaches the step of making a trip to meet REAL Russian/Ukrainian women.
Before you write to me asking about possible Russian dating scams, or post your question here on my site, here's the short answer:
If you met this lady through a site that offers pay-per-letter services, she's probably not "real". Her name, location, age, description, and pictures may be real, but she's writing you because the agency shares the pay-per-letter revenue with her. Either that, or she's not writing you at all, but rather the agency is writing you on her behalf. So the girl may be "real", but either her intentions are not authentic or her messages aren't even written by her at all.
If this lady wrote you first to your direct email address but you don't remember ever writing her, she is not real.
If you saw this lady on Match.com, POF.com, or any other site where her email address was "encoded" into her profile ("write me at olga123 at yahoo") and contacted her, she is one of the million Russian dating scams you'll need to dodge. If this lady later says she can get a visa to visit you in your country and you want to know if it is a scam, IT'S A SCAM.
If you are 57 years old, 5-8 (173 cm), 240 lbs (109 kg, not muscle), earn $25K/year, and you're not especially good-looking, and the girl is 24, 5-10 (178 cm), 120 lbs. (54 kg), and drop-dead gorgeous, but she sounds like she's in love with you and desperately wants to come visit you in person, she's not real.
YOU GET THE IDEA! COMMON SENSE IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE! (Hey, I didn't even intend to make a rhyme there :-)
Below I'll discuss the categories of Russian dating scams and how they work is a good start to avoiding them, but you can actually avoid them without knowing very much about them by following a few simple guidelines. I'll summarize here: (1) Shop only on the reputable sites, and (2) "follow the money". All true Russian dating scams are about tricking you out of your money, so as long as YOU control how and where your money is spent, you won't be scammed.
Avoiding Russian Women Scams
is my best one-page guide on how to avoid being scammed. If you found my site by Googling something like "Russian dating scams", this is the one page you must read, learn, and live!!! It will save you thousands of dollars! It also constitutes 90% of the advice I'm going to give if you seek my advice about a specific scam situation.
I don't have any official statistics, but I'd estimate that at least 90% of all Russian dating scams fall into one of two categories. Direct scams usually perpetrated through email is the first category.
If you sign up for "direct-connection sites" (sites where members communicate directly with one another without any human intermediaries - like Match.com) and correspond via email with women you meet online, you will definitely encounter "Email Scams". With this kind of scam, the "girl" with whom you think you are corresponding doesn't even exist. "She" may not even be a woman, could be using stolen pictures, posting them on an online profile, and entering into a fake email dialog, and eventually will try to con her victims into wiring her cash for some urgent need, or for her travel expenses to come see you.
Sometimes this can occur when you actually write a girl on a site, sometimes the girl contacts you on a site, or sometimes the girl directly emails you even though you've never seen her before or written to her. She'll just say "Hi, I saw your profile at the agency and you seem like the perfect man for me..." (but failing to identify the agency).
Of all the varieties of Russian dating scams, this is the easiest to recognize and avoid. Click HERE to read about how to avoid email scams.
Marriage Agency Scams
If you use the services of "marriage agencies" or a marriage agency network to pursue Russian women, then you run a pretty good risk of encountering another family of Russian dating scams known as "Marriage Agency Scams". At the start you may not even know that you are dealing with an agency or agency network. You may think it's just a big dating website, but in reality it is a network of local agencies. The most obvious indicator that you're dealing with an agency or agency network is that you pay for each message to any girl to whom you write, and usually you must pay for her reply (if she replies).
Russian dating scams involving marriage agencies (i.e. marriage agency scams) usually start with "letter forwarding services" and "gift services". In a nutshell what is usually happening with these "letter services" (pay-per-letter services) is that the agency is writing letters on behalf of the women, often without their knowledge. Alternatively, the girl may actually be writing the letters, but the agency shares the revenue with her (so she's "real", her name and photos are accurate, she's actually writing, but she's PAID to do it, and the longer she keeps you writing, the more she earns).
These scams are lucrative mostly because they prey upon distance and anonymity. Since a large percentage of men who visit these sites never actually end up making a trip, the agencies can really rake it in without getting caught.
And if you do engage in the pay-per-letter process, the girl may push for you to visit her through the services of her agency who will provide ground transport, apartment, interpreters, etc. for your visit. The agency makes profit on all these items and shares a portion with the girl.
Of course if a car arrives to meet you at the airport, and if you have an apartment to sleep in, if a translator is actually present on your dates, and your date actually shows up, then you might wonder where is the scam? Well, the scam is in the fact that the girl is only PRETENDING to be interested in you and serious about a relationship with you so that you will use these services so that she will profit financially.
Click HERE to read more about Marriage Agency Scams
In addition to addressing Russian dating scams, let me also mention "non-scams"... those behaviors that sometimes leave some men feeling scammed, but that don't really qualify as scams.
In some cases men throw around the term "Scam" a bit loosely and label as a scammer any woman who does not fully cooperate. For instance, a guy may invite a Russian woman with whom he has been corresponding to join him for a tropical vacation at his expense. She agrees, but during the trip she refuses him sex, or later loses interest. So he feels scammed.
Or, similarly, a man offers a woman gifts. She accepts, but then does not later acquiesce to his physical demands, or maybe she just eventually loses interest. He demands the gifts be returned and labels her a scammer.
OR, a man pursues a woman, maybe even sponsors her for a fiancee visa, or even marries her, then after she is here in the U.S. and a full citizen she wants a divorce. Well, there may be a small chance that all she wanted was citizenship (according to common American beliefs, that's all any of them want - see my discussion of Russian Women Myths
for more about that), but that's very rare. Or she may have come over with sincere motives but grew very unhappy in the marriage, and maybe that was at least partly the man's fault (and everyone ASSUMES all along she planned to use the man to get to the U.S. then divorce him).
But when the divorce rate in America is over 50% anyway why is it that only foreign women who get divorces are labeled as engaging in "marriage scams"? It's patently ridiculous.
None of these are Russian dating scams by any fair definition. A "scam", at least by my definition, involves INTENTIONAL DECEPTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCIAL PROFIT.
Yet another "Non-Scam" (that is sometimes labeled a scam) is the "Gold Digger". They DO have those (in Russia, Ukraine, AND America)! MANY foreigners have the impression that American streets are paved with gold and that all Americans are rich and can buy them whatever they want. Combine that with the fact that some Russian/Ukrainian women are fairly materialistic and have expensive tastes and high expectations and you have a real recipe for disaster. If big spending isn't your style (or within your ability) then you should just avoid these girls. But it's not really a "scam", and if you can't detect these tendencies in your girl in the 6+ months that it takes to secure a fiancee visa, you're just not paying attention!
There is an important thing to note about "Gold Diggers" that could prevent misunderstanding. There are substantial cultural/political differences between the ways Americans and Russians view money that could make some Russian women sound more like "Gold Diggers" than they really are. Many Russian women either own their own apartment or live with their family. Very few of them pay any kind of income tax, property tax, or health/life insurance premiums. Very few of them have their own cars, so they don't have to pay for car repairs, car notes, car insurance, or gas.
What this all means is that typically a far larger portion of a Russian's earnings are "disposable income". Therefore they think the same is true for an American, and may think you are just really stingy if you earn $60000 USD/year and won't fly to visit them every month bringing nice gifts each time. After all, you earn $60K per year and a flight is just $800. You get the idea!
Russian Dating Scams Q & A
Since this site has been online Russian dating scams has been one of the topics about which readers post the most questions. To improve the site organization I have moved all the previous questions and answers to Russian Scams Q & A
. To read previous questions and answers about scams, or to post your own new question about scams, visit Russian Scams Q & A
Russian Scam Consultation Service
If you have a question about Russian dating scams, or if you suspect you are the intended victim of a Russian scam and you cannot find the answer to your issue in any of the above locations, I offer a paid consultation service in whereby I will provide an individualized, customized answer to your specific questions or situation. See Russian Scam Consultation Service
for more information on using that service.