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Section 3: Find Your Lady

How Marriage Agencies Work

     There are five major types of agencies that provide services for western men seeking a foreign woman for marriage. They can be classified as: Mail Order, Correspondence, Introduction, Tour and Affiliate Agencies.  Some of these agencies provide 2, 3 or 4 of these services under one roof.

Mail Order Agencies

     These agencies generate their income exclusively or predominantly through the sale of ladies’ contact information (postal address, phone number and/or email address).  They typically provide an on-line database with pictures and profile information about each lady.  A man can browse or search the agency’s on-line catalog and select their desired lady or ladies.  Using an ‘online shopping cart’, payment is made with a credit card for and their selected contact information is emailed to them immediately.  Long before the popularity of the internet for matchmaking, there were agencies that actually printed and mailed a photo catalog of single foreign women to interested men.  This was the first style of introduction service to capture media attention and is the basis for the over used phrase of ‘Mail Order Bride’.

     Originally most of the larger agencies advertised in the local papers of various cities as a way to recruit new women for their printed or on-line catalog.  Larger agencies still do this while some simply buy their ladies profile and address from other smaller agencies that are willing to sell their catalog.  Dishonest agencies simply take the ladies picture and contact information off the internet and sell it as their own.  Another ploy by dishonest agencies is to advertise that they are looking for models, not specifically for marriage minded women looking for a foreign husband.  In both cases the intent is to fill their on-line catalog with the most attractive ladies in an effort to bait western men and sell as many addresses as possible.  Obviously a dishonest agency has little desire to help your succeed in your search for a marriage partner, their sole motivation is to get as much money from lonely western men as possible.

     Today many of the larger on-line catalog agencies still recruit through ads or directly through their websites but now they also network with other smaller/local agencies as a way to fill their on-line catalog with fresh faces.  Some of these agencies will tell you this, some will not.  This is an important point because a lady listed by an on-line catalog that does not offer exclusive content could be just one of dozens of agencies selling the same lady’s profile.  You may not know this but it does increases your likelihood of competition since the same lady’s address could be sold hundreds of times from numerous sources that she is probably not even aware of.  With such a high level of exposure you should expect that the Russian and Ukrainian women that are the most attractive will receive hundreds of replies over the course of only a few weeks.

     Some larger agencies never have any direct contact with the ladies they feature in their catalogs so any knowledge of her sincerity or statements of her personality is often limited to self descriptions from the ladies themselves.  Having a direct contact with the new lady can also serve as a means to protect the agency from enrolling a scammer into their agency. Marriage agencies that personally meet and visually inspect a ladies domestic passport are less likely to have a dishonest woman in their ranks than a marriage agency that does not engage in this practice.  It is very popular for scammers to list themselves with indiscriminate mail order agencies as a way to bait lonely western men.

     The quality of the content of a lady’s on-line profile will vary by agency.  Agencies that strive to provide a quality service will endeavor to get as much information about the ladies as possible so they can present this to their paying male clients.  Smaller, local agencies are more likely to be successful in gathering and presenting comprehensive information on each lady and many use a questionnaire to collect the kind of information they want to present on-line.

     The average cost for an address is $10 but volume discounts often exist. Typically a mail an agency that is interested in maximizing their profits will feature only the most attractive ladies since they generate the best revenue.  Some of the ‘best’ ladies can generate thousands of dollars for a marriage agency so there is a financial disincentive to remove a ‘profitable’ lady from the catalog even if she is engaged, married, moved away or no longer wants to receive letters from interested men.  This assumes that the agency even knows the current status of their ladies.  Often times the larger Mail Order style agencies do not bother to update their catalogs when a lady becomes engaged, married or moves.  Why should they when they have a financial incentive to keep a beautiful lady available for sale that has become a profitable ‘cash cow.  Recent research has found some of the profiles from certain agencies have been listed for over 3 years.  It seems highly unlikely that an attractive woman would not have received enough interest from men over the years to have resulted in at least one opportunity for marriage.

     As competition in this field increases, many Mail Order style agencies are modifying their business model and offering memberships instead of individual address sales.  Memberships vary in cost and duration according to the agency.  Membership service usually entitles the member to unlimited contact with a set number or unlimited number of ladies in their catalog for a certain period of time. Memberships typically cost about $25 per month and the extent of services and ladies available varies by agency.  This can actually be very cost effective if you find several ladies in the database you wish to contact. 

     As you familiarize yourself with some of the numerous on-line Mail Order agencies you will find that they offer many other additional services such as flower and gift delivery, often times at inflated prices to increase their profits.  The more savvy on-line catalogs place a button within the lady’s profile tempting you to send her flowers right away.  They hope you are gullible to their suggestion since flower delivery is a very high profit item for them to sell.  In marketing terms this is called an ‘add-on sale’ or ‘suggestive sale’ and is the same approached used by all the fast food restaurants when they suggest some additional food item to add to your order ( ‘would you like fries with your order?). 

     One good way to make use of Mail Order style agencies is to get a broadband connection so you can browse or search the entire catalog with ease.   Save or bookmark to your browser’s ‘Favorites folder the web page with the profile number (ID#) of each lady you are interested in.  If you are browsing several agencies create sub folders with each of the agency’s name on it you will keep yourself better organized.  After a while you will have a nice collection of profiles and you can choose the 2 or 3 agencies that seem to have the most to offer to you.

Correspondence Agencies

     These agencies generate their income by providing correspondence services between their lady clients and western men.  They typically offer a first letter or two for free as a way to get you interested in one or more of their ladies and encourage you to use their service. Originally this type agency only offered translated email and phone correspondence services but recent improvements in internet availability make it possible for these agencies to offer additional services such as on-line chat and web cameras exchanges.

     These services are usually free for the ladies since payment is made by the men who open an account (usually through the transfer of funds via Western Union or with a Credit Card).  The man’s account is debited as he uses the agency’s correspondence services (translated letters, phone calls) with one or more ladies in the agency.  When the account balance reaches $0 he can either add more money to continue use of the service or discontinue all together.  Another business model offered by some agencies is a flat monthly fee for a limited or unlimited amount of correspondence services.

     Honest agencies which operate in this manner provide a very effective way to bridge the long distance between a western man and a Russian woman.  However dishonest agencies have been known to operate using this type of service.  They may operate a ‘Boiler Room type scam by employing older women and even men (basically someone different than the pretty picture on the website) to engage in fictitious romantic correspondence with unsuspecting western men.  Often times a dishonest correspondence type agency will send out unsolicited emails to single men who post a singles ad on any one of the hundreds of dating sites around the world.  Pretending to be sincerely interested Russian, they entice these lonely men with pictures and love letters of women that don’t really exist in order to deceive them into sending money to open an account with the agency to continue correspondence.  This is a very cruel deception and western men must be very cautious when first approaching or being approached by an agency that exclusively operates in this manner.

     Since a correspondence agency has a financial incentive in your ongoing membership it can be assumed that they work towards ensuring you have opportunities for an effective correspondence using their service.  Even so, you should strive to obtain the direct contact information (address, phone, email) from your preferred lady or ladies right away.  Be suspicious if the Marriage Agency or woman refuses to give it to you after you have established a meaningful exchange.  An honest agency that is striving to provide a sincere service for their male and female clients will not object or restrict the lady from providing you with her personal address or telephone number.  A dishonest agency will forbid this from occurring and will often edit your correspondence to prevent you from trying to bypass their paid services.  A dishonest lady may not want to divulge such information either.

     An honest agency will have an anti-scam policy and forbid their ladies from asking for any form of financial assistance from their male clients.  They will actively investigate a report of a lady violating this rule since they want to keep their reputation and business healthy and viable for the long term.

Introduction Agencies

     These agencies operate locally in various cities and can provide you with an introduction to a single lady when you arrive in town.  They have a collection of ladies who are looking for marriage and are willing to meet foreign men.  Rates for an introduction service may be free but typically there is a fee for an introduction which will range from $20 to $50 per meeting.  You may also need to hire the services of a local translator if the lady doesn’t speak English.

Tour Agencies

     If you are new to the international dating scene and not a savvy traveler, then an agency that provides a romance tour may be a good way to get started.  The agencies that offer tours will vary in the size of the group of men they bring together at one time (5 or 6 men to 40 to 50 men).  The smaller tours tend to offer more personal service, but the larger tours have more ladies to select from.  Tour companies vary in the breath and depth of the service they provide but they all strive to provide you with some means of social interaction with a group of single women receptive to the idea of marriage to a foreign man.  Your itinerary will also provide you with some free time that you can fill with individual dates with your favorite ladies.  You can think of this as an opportunity to take a vacation and get introduced to some nice ladies while visiting the environment they live in.

     More established tour agencies operate their own offices and staff in the destination cities that have connections with available women.  Others must hire local agents that can provide the ladies or send out invitations to the ladies prior to the tour.  In either case you can’t expect the tour agency to know each lady personally.

     There are mixed opinions as to the effectiveness of tours and the socials that are organized.  Much will depend on your personality and how many ladies you have an opportunity to interact with.  If you are at least moderately conversational and willing to be adventurous you may find a romance tour to be a great way to spend a week or two in a foreign country.  Keep your expectations reasonable and you are less likely to be disappointed.  You can increase your chances of making a meaningful connection if you have prior contact with some of the ladies before arriving in their city.

     Agencies such as A Foreign Affair are leaders in the Romance Tour industry.  Since they are based in the United States you have a much higher degree of protection and customer service if something goes wrong or you need to change your plans than you would with a Russian based agency.

Affiliate Agencies

     A new type of ‘international marriage agency’ has appeared recently in the ‘mail order bride’ industry.  These types of agencies operate mostly as a mail order type service.  They are simply a private website that is putting their label on someone else’s catalog of ladies and services and making a commission from the sales of addresses that they generate.  In marketing terms this is known as ‘co-branding’.  These so called ‘agencies’ may appear to be legitimate and look impressive by offering a big selection of thousands of ladies.  They may even offer a few other important services such as translations, fiancée visa assistance and romance tours.  However, the fact is that these agencies do little if nothing to recruit their own ladies and may not be the actual providers of these support services.  They simply exist as a marketing partner of the owner of the original catalog to reach a broader market of men and as a way for the affiliate agency owner to cash in on this growing and lucrative industry.

     All these fancy looking websites seem real enough . . . but behind the façade is simply a small business, probably a single person, who is peddling the same profiles as hundreds of others affiliate agencies.  They attempt to give you all the appearances of providing you with something special and unique but in reality they are like a McDonalds restaurant franchise selling you the same Big Mac hamburger as every other McDonalds restaurant.  This has become such a popular marketing tool for the owner of the original database of ladies that these new agencies pop up like mushrooms on a warm summer day hoping to make money online.  Many of these instant agencies are owned and ‘operated’ by recently married Russian women who have no other means of employment in their husbands country.  This is one of the reasons why there are now thousands of ‘marriage agencies’ listed on the major search engines in comparison to a few years ago.

     Your choice and challenge as a consumer is whether or not you wish to patronize these affiliate agencies.  You will successfully get what you pay for . . . an address of a foreign woman but you will have little or no idea of the quality of that address.  For all you know that profile could have been on the database for several years and been sold hundreds of times.  An affiliate website you are making a purchase through has little if any control over who is entered into the database.  

     This site will be updated with more information on how you can identify these ‘affiliate’ agencies but until then it is safer and better for you patronize our list of recommended agencies


If you are still confused from all your choices here are a few suggestions on how to proceed:

     If you are the type of man who wants to contract the lady directly without much help or involvement from someone else then you should look for a site that allow you to purchase addresses of desirable ladies so you can make your own direct contact.  However, be aware that most ladies that may be scammers and professional daters work from home and are independent of the agencies.  Become familiar with the techniques of the scammers and how to defend yourself before venturing too far down this road.

     If you are the type of man who wants to meet a Russian or Ukrainian lady, but needs some assistance with translations then choose a correspondence agency that has a strong anti-scammer policy.

     If you are serious about this process and want to travel to Russia or Ukraine in the next few weeks or months then consider using the services of a Romance Tour agency that can make the whole process a lot easier and more efficient.

Visit these chapters for more information about Finding Your Russian Woman:

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