How to Protect Yourself
The following are some ways in which you can protect yourself and verify if you are corresponding with a scammer.
Don’t Send Her any Money!
This is by far the best line of defense you have against a scammer. You can’t be a victim if you don’t send money. If for some reason you are unwilling to follow this prudent advice then reduce your potential losses and only send a small amount after waiting several days or weeks. Any statements of disappointment or indignation should confirm your suspicions. If you are tempted to send money for travel expenses then don’t but instead insist on making the arrangements yourself. Use a travel agent and pay for it using a credit card with refundable terms if possible. If you are going to pay for any correspondence expenses do so a little at time even if you are offered a discount if you pay for more all at once. Keep in mind that tourist Visas are nearly impossible to obtain for single women from Russia and Ukraine so don’t believe her if she says she can get one if you send her a certain amount of money.
Check the Scammer Databases
There are several online Anti-Scammer databases you can check to see if she is listed by name. If she is a scammer she may have used several different names and email addresses with different men over the past few years. Because of the growing nature of these databases it may take a while for you to comb through them if you have to do so by picture but it may be the fastest way to know if you have crossed paths with a known or suspected scammer. You can also check to see if her Agency is listed as a dishonest agency as they may eventually be trying to lure you into their web of lies. Unfortunately dishonest Agencies can reopen under a new name very quickly and easily.
Verify Her Postal Address
This should be done as soon as you start your correspondence since a letter or package may take a few weeks to arrive. Send her a postal letter with information or questions you can reference to in your email correspondence. The goal is to verify that she actually gives you a valid postal address but this will not guarantee that she is not a scammer if she does successfully receive it.
Verify Her Pictures
One of the quickest ways to verify her address and ensure the person in the photos you have been receiving is the person at the address is to send her flowers. Certain companies can deliver your gift of flowers to a designated person and take a picture of the happy recipient. This picture will be sent to you and should be of the same person that has sent you pictures previously. If not then you may be corresponding with a dishonest man or woman masquerading as the lady sending you love letters. You can make a special request for a picture to be taken showing her with her beloved family or pet or at a recent event she mentions in a letter. You can also send her a gift that she can wear in a photo. Asking her to send you a picture of her taken in her home while wearing your gift will also verify that the address and the person are real. If she is a scammer she will produce excuses as to why she cannot fulfill your request.
If she has given you her phone number make an unexpected call to her to say hello. If she speaks a little English this will be an easy experience. You may want to study a few simple Russian phrases to make a good impression as well. Even if you do not speak the same language it will be pleasant for each of you to hear the others voice for the first time. Later you can arrange for an independent Translator like WWC Translations to help you have a more meaningful dialog over the phone. After your phone call you can ask your Translator for a frank evaluation if your lady sounded sincere to them and seems genuinely interested in you.
Do a Background Check
Although a Police Report will be required as part of a U.S. Fiancée Visa application it will be to your advantage if you do some investigation on your own if you have seen some warning signs but are not yet certain of your suspicion. There are individuals and businesses that specialize on doing such research on Russian and Ukrainian citizens. Their fee may be a prudent investment if you have not spent much time with your lady or met her family in person. One of the best services available for background checks is offered at AllRussian and run by Michael Muinov, a Russian lawyer who specialize in background checks on Russian virtual lovers.
Take Your Time
Given the circumstances of how you met it would be expected by any sincere woman that you will want to take your time getting to know her before rushing into making travel arrangements or providing financial assistance. A scammer will show their impatience but a sincere lady will understand that such an important aspect of life takes time to develop.
Offer to Meet Her
One of the best ways to verify or dispel any suspicion is to meet her. Obviously this may be easier said than done but it is the only way to verify if the relationship has any chance of real success (unless you only want a virtual relationship). Short of getting on an airplane you can make a suggestion of traveling soon to meet her. Without making specific commitments just the mere suggestion that you can and will come in person may be enough to spook a scammer or at least preempt their ability to coerce money out of you for their own travel expenses. Keep your guard up if she is insistent on making all the arrangements for you that end up requiring payment in cash before you arrive.
Use a Pseudonym
Simply open a new account using a free email service and send her a new introduction letter sent under this new identify of ‘another man’ You can test her sincerity by evaluating the replies you receive. If her letters are identical or inconsistent with what you have already been told by her then you can confirm your suspicions of a scam.
Trust Your Instincts
Reflect on the old saying ‘If it is too good to be true then it probably is’. Unfortunately when emotions are involved it is had to overcome wishful thinking when an attractive lady is lavishing you with attention and affection. Scammers know this so this is how and why they can operate so effectively. If you also remember other old sayings such as ‘talk is cheep’ and ‘actions speak louder than word’ then you may be able to keep things in perspective and not fall prey to their tactics.
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