|some anti-scam advice
this is all just common sense really, but i found it interesting and re-iterates the advice often given on this forum...
Kyiv's scammers target easy prey: foreigners
5 November 2008, 21:49
Female hustlers bring natural advantages to the world of scamming.
The advent of online dating has enriched Ukrainian women to the tune of thousands - or even tens of thousands of dollars. Much of it is extracted from foreigners harmlessly, for the most part, except to the men's bank accounts.
The U.S. Consular section said the internet scams have a common theme. "The Ukrainian woman solicits money and gifts from the U.S. citizen while leading him on about her true intent in the relationship." Westerners and their money are used for travel, computers, fake requests for medicine and fictional surgeries.
"Many men victimized in these scams harbor misconceptions about women from this part of the world," the U.S. Consular section said in a statement. "The men also believe the women here are so desperate to emigrate that physical differences, i.e. beauty and age, are not factors in finding a husband ... this usually is not the case."
According to anti-scam.org, an online blacklist of women in the former Soviet Union who are identified as scammers, there are three types of scenarios.
The most common and simplest one is to request "money for correspondence." Small amounts of up to $100 are asked to pay for tabs at Internet cafes to continue exchanging e-mails.
A second and bolder approach is to ask for gift deliveries, even money to pay for the processing of travel visas, usually a student or fiance visa, and airfare to the U.S. to visit their newly found loved ones.
A third reason for money is to help pay for medicine or an urgently needed surgery. "Sometimes a woman strings along the man for so long that she actually goes through the visa process, gets the visa, travels to the U.S. for a few months, and then comes back to Ukraine. And sometimes the woman will begin the process all over again (sometimes with the same man)," the U.S. Consular section said.
Female online scammers are getting more sophisticated, according to David Skol, owner of flowerstoukraine.com, a flower delivery service. He also offers a U.S.-based scam-check service. "What we're seeing is that women are providing more information to look like they're not hiding anything, such as a scanned visa they send when corresponding. Or, a group of people start a website advertising a fictitious travel agency to look legitimate, which they shut down as soon as they successfully extract money several times," Skol said.
Skol said he started the online scam-check service when many addresses for flower deliveries turned out to be phony or non-existent. Skol said his network of agents cover more than 600 towns and cities in the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine.
As for online dating scams, Skol said the advice is simple: "Never send money."