Warning in Kiev – and this time it´s not about president Vladimir Putin
KIEV, UKRAINE: Bob from New York came to Kiev with a group of men to meet the new girlfriend he initially met at a dating site after spending lot of money on letters and live chats. At the same event an insider speaks out about the online dating industry. The reality may not be very romantic.
“She is beautiful, young and wants to get married. It’s almost too good to be true”.
No wonder why Bob from New York was excited as he stood in a hotel lobby in central part of Kiev. Talking about love and dating online, and his new girlfriend, 25 years old Olga from the Ukrainian capital.
Beauties for rent
Bob paid 4,495 dollars for the Tour Package, sold by the online dating company Anastasia Date. The package includes return tickets from New York, hotel with breakfast, unlimited introductions to women, three free and exclusive meetings with selected women in two cities and some translation service.
But Bob doesn’t realise that many of the women who meet up at the hotel are hired to meet men from Europe and the U.S. Beautiful and long-legged models carry on as part of their job. Every year such tours to Ukraine and Russia are organized for western men who intend to meet women they’ve met through online dating. Men looking for the big love and new happiness. Most likely Bob will return to New York with a broken heart.
Online dating business
The combination of online dating and Tour Package to Russia and Ukraine is a rather dubious offer in the tourism industry. Next trip by Anastasia Date to Odessa and Kherson, mainly for Americans.
“The tour provides an average of 7-10 women for every man in attendance. Work the room at a Social and find the special sweetheart with whom you click. Take a walk by the sea in Odessa and surprise your newfound lady with a bouquet of fresh flowers. It won’t be long before you’re experiencing all the excitement of a holiday romance” Anastasia Date writes in the invitation.
An insider speaks out
At the hotel bar I met Elena, interpreting for Anastasia for some years. “Some girls really want to find their soul mate”, she said. “And they are searching for more young guys, but not many of them are here. Here women pretending to be interested. They can get free meals, drinks, small gifts and may be a trip to America or Western Europe. There are scammers as well. They try to avoid the scammers, but they understand without the scammers, this business wouldn’t exist”.
This is one of the most widely used. A potential victim gets contact on a dating site. The young girl, or a man, involves the victim into online-relationship, and then ask him for financial assistance with arranging a personal meeting. The scammers make money by asking for visas, passport, tickets or travel agency fees. The travel scammers use falsified documents to create legitimate travel arrangements.
This one is pretty specific to Ukraine alone. It’s based on the same idea – a young lady is looking for a soul mate abroad. This time the lady supposedly does not speak English and no access to Internet at all. She is using services of some “Translation Agency” to help her with her correspondence. The scammer milk all men interested with this lady for money for translation services for as long as possible. It is not uncommon for Scammers to use Travel Scam tricks as well.
Online dating Scams
Investigator John Harper heads his Florida based company Wymoo International, specializing in international background checks and due diligence.
“Russia and Ukraine are among the top highest risk countries in the world for dating scams. In this region we are seeing internet criminals working with beautiful women, or their photos, to scam foreigners. In Russia and Ukraine online dating and matchmaking are popular industries. Many relationships start via the internet, usually via an online dating or social networking site. Many fraudulent agencies are also involved. With the hope for a better life, many honest women use these services, but there are also a growing number of internet criminals who hope to cash in on easy profits – and many of them do”, John Harper says.
After testing the services from Anastasia Date and few other dating services we have some good advice. Protect your private information and personal data. Share less about yourself online. Never send money to anyone you’ve never met. If you think the relationship has potential, consider a background check or consult a reputable investigation company.
Eastern Europe with high unemployment rate is a fertile ground for romance – and due diligence may not be very romantic. But it can save you thousands of dollars and euro – and a broken heart. Just ask Bob from New York. At the next day event he was dating another Olga from Kiev.
More about Kiev: Women Look to the West
Read about dating scams Here