What do I and Russia’s new first lady have in common? We are both dating scammers.
Well, not us, but Russian women with the same names. At some point, I googled my name to see how my blog was doing in the rankings, and one of the links that came up in the top 20 was “dating scammer Anna Ershova.” Upon clicking on the link and seeing a picture that differed very much from my visage, I realized my reputation was not in any danger. Even though we share one name, she is 30 and comes from Rostov-on-Don. According to John, who submitted her profile,
She is very skillful woman with using copy and paste contents in mail.
She requested much and many.
Very quick temper.
And her photo on the site may be photos when she was very young age or much decorated. Pay attention.
I found this fascinating, but not worth investigating, and went back to studying for finals. Now that I am done with my freshman year, I have a bit more time to investigate this interesting phenomenon. It’s even more exciting, because there is a dating scammer whose name is the same as President Medvedev’s wife — Svetlana Medvedeva. She is listed under a Russian Marriage Scams category on a website that appears to be originally dedicated to computer programming. (I wonder if its founder got scammed by a Russian bride wannabe?) Her semi-provocative photographs are accompanied by an e-mail Ms. Medvedeva’s potential victim received. Here is an excerpt:
You know for these some letters I have fallen in love with you very strongly. I for a long time did not test anything to men, and you seem have demented me… I very much want to arrive to you but unfortunately I have no such opportunity… I must have registration of visa and passport, so I must pay about 250-290 $ US for those things. This amount includes: payment for visa and passport registration, payment for promptness because sometimes registration borrow 4-6 months. Also this price include Interview in embassy and medicalsurvey… I will have work visa so my firm will pay for tickets so you must not worry about tickets or money for tickets because my working firm will pay for this. But I must ask money help from you … because I do not have any money right now. So please try to find way to help me this money sooner, so I might pay for it because as you may understand it will borrow sometime. So if you would send money help that amount today or tomorrow I will be able to pick up your money help faster and pay for it, so it would take less time…
Both of these two websites have other profiles of Russian or post-Soviet dating scammers. One of them even offers “The Complete, No-Nonsense Anti-Scam Guide For Men Seeking a Russian Wife.” Why a Russian wife? There are slightly under 200 countries in the world, so why not look for matrimonial happiness elsewhere? The RussianWife website claims:
We are owned and operated by an American who is very happily married to a fantastic Russian woman. I have been to Russia several times, and one thing I was struck by was how many fantastic women over there who are alone.
This is indeed true. Russian men live significantly less than Russian women; alcoholism and domestic violence are a huge issue, and, unfortunately, many Russian women struggle to find a partner. But do all marriage agencies and their clients have such altruistic motivations?
Russian marriage agency offering single Russian women, young Russian girls and mail order brides for dating and marriage.
This is what the agency Your Bride offers. Sounds a bit like a marketplace: you have your pick of a Russian bride, all combinations of eye color/hair color/age/weight/height possible. Not satisfied? We’ll ship you another one.
Here is one question I would like to ask any man who ever used any of these services: What kind of women do you think would gladly provide their information to be in a website like this? I would imagine that an overwhelming majority of single Russian women would prefer submitting their profiles to a website that would present them as humans, not as bride meat.
There are a plethora of scammers who try to get money from the naive foreigners. While in some cases it may be difficult, if not impossible, to recognize them, sometimes it is fairly obvious. CNN features a story about two young Russian men who collected $56K from Westerners. No women were involved in this scheme; this means the eager Western men parted with their money without even speaking to their “loved one” on the phone (not to mention videochatting). Were they so infatuated by the photographs and sweet e-mails? Did they think there were no telephones in Russia? (the “woman” wrote her e-mails in English, which means the two criminals couldn’t use “her” lack of language skills as an excuse) Why didn’t they spent the money on a ticket to Russia for themselves? The actions of the Russian men were doubtless illegal, but a little bit of common sense on the part of the Western men would have helped prevent the crimes.
By the way, the Russian-speaking internet is full of stories about Western men who would engage in an online relationship with a Russian lady, then invite her over, where she would learn her knight in a shining armor is in fact homeless/a father of six children he had never mentioned/has a different job from what he claimed to have/disabled. It looks like Russian brides and their potential Western husbands are even.