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Travel for Marriage And Tips On Avoiding Scams 

Finding your true love online is becoming more and more popular in our busy modern world, where people have no time for old-fashioned courtship. The advantages of online dating are numerous: it's cheaper than going out to fancy restaurants or clubs, there are never "bad hair" or "nothing to wear"  days on your first date, and if the date goes sour it is much easier to withdraw from an embarrassing situation by just clicking an "off" button. Online dating also offers you a much bigger geographic pool of candidates for your heart, erasing borders and cultural differences. 

Go To Russia Travel is not a match-making agency but we enjoy giving a helping hand in international love connections by providing reliable and affordable travel services to our clients. Women from Russia, Ukraine and other regions of the former Soviet Union have long been a popular choice for many eligible bachelors in the USA and Western Europe. We help couples with all the travel arrangements: visas to Russia and other countries, airline tickets (international and domestic), train tickets, accommodations in hotels and serviced apartments, transfer, guides, etc. In most cases we deal with happy couples longing to see each other, however, we do get occasional phone calls from frustrated grooms whose "dream girl" turned out to be a scammer.

Signs that you might be scammed:

From our experience we should warn you that anyone can become a victim of a scam. When it comes to matters of the heart even the most brilliant man can be tricked if he is not informed on tactics used by  scammers. We have compiled a list of possible scam-scenarios we hear most often from our clients looking for a life-partner abroad. We hope this information will help you not fall into a fraud trap. 

She tells you she can come on a student vis She does not want you to see her in her home country and insists on visiting you instead, and she asks for money to buy an airline ticket.

Although your lady friend might have some legitimate reasons not to invite you to her home-country (and we hope the reason is not already having a husband at home or not even being a woman you think you are corresponding with) it should still raise a red flag for you. Do not send her any money, offer to buy her a ticket instead. Make sure you get a refundable ticket. Even if she writes to you that an airline ticket would cost two or  three times less in Russia (which is questionable) , do not send her the money! Buy the ticket yourself!

She tells you she can come on a student vis You are inviting a lady friend to visit you in your home country, and she tells you that she needs money to get an exit visa to leave Russia.

This is one of classic scams used on men who don't have much international travel experience. Russians do not need any exit visas to leave Russia. 

She tells you she can come on a tourist visa to see you and asks for money for a visa

Most likely you are being set up for a "visa and tickets scam" when a bride asks you for money to pay for her tickets and visa and then disappears once she gets it. We suggest you check with your country's Embassy to see how easy it would be for her to get a tourist visa to your country.

She tells you she can come on a student visa.

Unlikely but possible. Do not send her money just yet. Ask her to provide more details on the University that she is going to come to study at, and then contact that University. If they have some kind of a student exchange program in place, they will be happy to tell you about it. Also, you can contact the Embassy that issued that visa to confirm its validity.

She tells you she can come on a fiancée visa and that she can obtain that visa.

She cannot file for a fiancée visa if the two of you have never met before. One of the requirements for the fiancée visa is a personal meeting within the last two years. And YOU will have to file lots of paperwork before she can even fill out her application.

She tells you she can come on a business or work visa.

Unlikely but possible.  In any case, do not send any money without verification of the validity of her visa. Ask her to send you a scanned picture of her visa and then contact the Embassy that issued the visa to confirm its validity.
Some ladies offer to come on a work visa and then to get a fiancée visa later. And they will ask you to pay for travel expenses. If you believe her intentions are pure, buy her the tickets instead of giving her the money.

She still has ads running on many dating sites even after she tells you that she likes you and wants to marry you.

Well, if she placed a half of dozen of those ads in different catalogs before, she may not remember to remove them later. Also, the agencies may keep selling her address for their own profits. You may try to "reply" to her existing listings under different names/e-mail address, and see what happens.

She tells you that her Internet costs a lot, and she cannot afford to pay for it.

This may be the truth - Internet-cafes DO cost a lot, and with the average salary in Russia is $150 - $300 per month, using the Internet cafe could be a big expense for her.
But if this is one of the FIRST things she mentions in her very first letters, then it is a scam-alert. 

She never uses your name, but gives you a lot of sweet nick-names but never calls you by name.

We would say it is a usual scam indication. But if the letters are very personal and have all your questions answered in detail and do not have any other scam-symptoms, then it might just be that person's manner of speaking.
If there ARE other scam-symptoms in the letters, then you may wish to be careful with that person. 

She says she is madly in love with you just after a few letters.

Unless you recently won Mr. Universe contest and already have dozens of admirers  chasing you - it IS probably a scam. Check all black lists widely available on the Internet.

She claims her feelings for you are very strong. You are much older than her and so far have not been popular with the women of her age?  

50/50 scammer possibility. Many girls in Russia do prefer dating older men,  and 10-20 years difference is very common. But be aware that many scammers commonly prey on older western men, since they are considered to be a pretty easy target. 

You can check whether you are dealing with a scammer by doing the following: 1) Check all black lists to see if the girl's pictures are already there. 2) If your search brings up nothing,  try to write to her under a different name and use a different age, mention that you are making a good living, and ready to support your new Russian friend. See what she will do. 

She has not asked for any money but she is telling you about her poor financial situation in every letter.

She may be a scammer or may be a girl in a very poor financial situation, who desperately tries to get your help.
To see what kind of person you are dealing with, you may just mention that you are in a bad financial situation yourself and would love to help her with money but cannot do that at the moment. If she is genuinely attracted to you, as she says, then she will understand. If she is there just for the money, her letters will become less loving and less frequent, or she will even stop writing to you completely.

In many of her letters she tells you the same things over and over again, in exactly the same words.

Yes, this looks like a typical "copy and paste" scammer. They use pre-written letters and use parts of them as they need. Check all black lists very carefully, and consider writing the girl using a different name. See if the content of her letters change.

She says she doesn't have a phone and you cannot call her.

Maybe a complete truth. There are still areas in Russia where it is quite common not to have a phone in the house.

Useful Links and Trusted marriage agencies:

Russia: Internet Dating Schemes US Department of State

Located in Moscow and in business for many years, the agency adheres to a strict selection policy and requires personal interviews with all clients to eliminate chances of scams.

Encounters International
The agency is based in Washington, DC and has offices in Moscow, Yaroslavl, Russia, and Kiev, Ukraine, years in business with an impressive track record.

General precautions of online dating:

1.    Be careful with sites/agencies that allow you to post your profile on-line, receive E-mails from apparently interested women, and then require payments for opening them. To avoid this we recommend to check the agency BEFORE you post your profile on their site. Call the agency directly and ask what safeguards, if any, they have in place to assure that all correspondence you get is legitimate. You should also get a woman's personal contact information, i.e. home address and/or telephone number after the first e-mail you exchange with her.

2.    Beware of any unsolicited e-mails you receive, even if you have posted your profile information on-line with one or more of the dating sites. Keep in mind that the vast majority of foreign women in Russia and other countries of former Soviet Union don't have means to surf the Internet with a laptop and a DSL connection in their home! In fact, most women do not have any access or have very limited access to the Internet. 

3.    Beware of women who will not disclose their personal information to you, i.e. address, e-mail, or phone number. 

4.    Beware of women who declare their love for you after just a few letters and generally come off as very strong in displaying their feelings, insisting on visiting you (on your expense), etc. Although international dating tends to progress faster than domestic dating, an "I Love You" within the first letter or two may spell trouble.

5.    Beware of women who ask for money for any reason whatsoever. You should immediately report these women to the agency. The amount may seem very small, however, she may be requesting that same amount from 20 to 100 people.

6.    Beware of women who want you to travel, and pay for them to travel, to a neutral place right away to meet them.

7.    Beware of women who tell you that they can obtain a tourist visa. They may say they can obtain the visa for a certain amount of money and ask you to send the money.

8.    Beware of women to whom you are writing that seem unavailable to meet you face to face when you are ready to travel. The excuse given might be something to do with some personal matter, a sudden illness of a family member, or numerous emergency scenarios.

9.    When dealing with agencies, check their BBB report, ask for references, and ask how much media attention the company has had. These are all good ways to determine if the agency is legitimate.

10.Trust your instincts. One of the main reasons that a small fraction of women and agencies are able to operate unethically is that many men ignore the warning signs. It's not that they are stupid or particularly naive; it is because they truly want to believe in what the woman is saying. Whenever there are emotions involved there is a greater risk of fraud. Unfortunately, there are and always will be predators who are willing to capitalize on people who are experiencing one or more of those emotions.