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Russian Dating Scams (RDSs)

There is more than one type of RDSs. You can read the full list here.

We loosely classify RDSs into two groups: 1) Travel scams and 2) “all others.”

Travel scams (sometimes you will see then being referred to as “Visa and Tickets” scams) are the most widely used. The main theme of the scam is that someone (be it a young women or a young men) contacts a potential victim on a dating site, quickly involves the potential victim into romantic online-relationship, and then asks the potential victim for financial assistance with arranging a person meeting.

The scammers make money by asking for:

  • Visas, passports, tickets, travel agency fees
  • Cash to prove their financial independence (“travel money,” “pocket money”) to the Embassy officials or to the customs officials at the airport
  • Money to repay outstanding loans that prevent them from leaving the country
  • Money to cover various legal fees, taxes, and fines
  • Money for unexpected medical emergencies
  • Money lost during due to a robbery or theft

Very often, the Travel scammers use falsified visas, passports, tickets, and other documents to create an appearance of legitimate travel arrangements

Thousands of foreigners already became a victim of this scam.

A good thing about Travel scammers is that they are very easy to detect if any due diligence checks are performed.

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Ukrainian Dating Scams (UDSs)

We loosely separate Ukrainian dating scams into four categories:  1) Translation Scams; 2) Travel Scams; 3) Accommodation scams; 4) All others.

The Ukrainian Travel Scams are very much the same as Russian Travel Scams. We would recommend the same due diligence checks to detect them.

The Translation Scams, on the other hand, are pretty specific to Ukraine alone. This type of scam is based on the same idea - a young lady is looking for a soul mate abroad. Only this time, this lady supposedly does not speak English and does not have access to Internet at all, so she is using services of some “Translation Agency” or “Internet Agency” to help her with her correspondence. The scammers (who play both the lady and the translation agency) milk all men interested in correspondence with this lady for money for translation services for as long as possible.

If the victim is cooperative, other money requests can be made as well: to pay for the lady’s “English lessons,” to help out with rent or home repairs, to help with small medical emergencies, and so on.

It is not uncommon for the Translation Scammers to use Travel Scam tricks as well, inviting the victim to help the lady financially with the arrangements for the personal meeting.

This type of scam is designed to last many months, since the scammers try to trick the victim into paying the “translation services” for as long as possible. The scammers employ English-speaking interpreters to impersonate both the lady and the translation company.

The good thing about the Translation Scams is that they are also very easy to detect with due diligence checks.

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How can I find out if he/she has been reported as a scammer?

You will need to do some research on the Internet. 

Step 1: you open any search engine page (Google, Yahoo, etc) and in the search field type in her name, click Search and see what happen. If any matches are provided, you can read through them carefully to see if it is a true match or just a coincidence.

Step 2: perform the same search using her email address, then her home address.

Step 3: if nothing helps, manually go to 5 or 6 major black lists and look through reports and photos posted there. Maybe you will find her picture posted online somewhere under a different name.

If you are not very confident in your computer skills, or if you do not have alot of time to spend on the research,you can ask someone else to do this research for you, or you can hire our company to do this research:

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I looked at the black lists and I checked her name, and I did not find anything. She must be a real person, then?

Of course not. No all scammers are reported. In fact, I would estimate that over 70% of scammers ARE NOT reported online, because people who got scammed often do not know that black lists exist, or how to use them. Some victims have such a limited computer knowledge, that a thought of navigating a forum or anti-scam site seems intimidating to them. Other scam victims continue to hold out hope that the loss of money is reversible, and the scammer will return the money one day, so they do not post anything on the Internet in order to avoid angering the scammer. Other victims tell about their intentions to post information online to the scammer, and the scammer uses psychological pressure (threats, appeals for mercy, sob stories) to talk the victim out of taking any action.

So, the fact that you do not see a person on a black list in no way means that this person is "real" or honest. Nothing short of verification of identity can confirm that someone is real. And even if the person is confirmed to be real, you are anything but safe from a scam. Many real people use their real information to scam people online. Law in Russia are so lax about Internet scams, that there is really very little legal problem that the victims can create for the scammer, and the scammers know it very well.




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His/her name has been reported as a scam. Can this be a mistake?

(we will refer to this person as "your lady" in our answer, for simplicity sake)

If you found your lady’s name being posted on a black list, do not automatically assume that she is a scammer. There are several things that you need to take into consideration:

1)      It is possible, that there are more than one person with certain first and last name in a given city, country, etc. It is very possible that there could be 16 different Natalias Petrovas living in one town! She may have nothing to do with a scammer who just happened to have the same first and last name. Check whether the pictures and other biographical information match as well. If they match, then most likely your lady is really involved. 

2)      Read the scam report first. Is there any objective evidence of a scam being presented? Or does it sound more like some disgruntled ex-penpal wenting off because she didn’t appreciate his attention enough?

If the report presents some objective evidence of a scam, then you probably need to take it seriously and start verifying your lady’s information as soon as possible.

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I found his/her pictures online, but under s different name. Maybe someone stole his/her pictures? Can this happen?

(we will refer to this person as "your lady" in our answer, for simplicity sake)

Yes, it is possible that someone stole her pictures, but from our practice we can observe that if the lady’s pictures are posted in a scam report, then further verification of her information tends to confirm that she is a scammer.

However, you should not presume her guilt right away. First, read information about the scammer who used those pictures. Maybe you will need other details (like occupation, life story, or best friend’s name) that match as well. If some other details match as well, there is larger chance that your lady is involved somehow after all. Start verifying your lady’s information and biographical info, if possible. Start paying attention to what your lady is saying. Is she asking for money? Is she hinting that she may need money soon? Did she fall in love with you too fast? Is there anything else in her behavior that you feel uneasy about?

If nothing else matches your lady’s information, if you checked her identity and she really exists, and there are no other troubling signs in your lady’s behavior, then I would recommend continuing your correspondence, but being very observant about her behavior, in case it will start becoming more troubling in the future.

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His/her name, address, and all other information are posted on a black list. He/she says that an  ex-friend used her name and her pictures to conduct a scam. Can it be true?

(we will refer to this person as "your lady" in our answer, for simplicity sake)

We find it hard to believe. A friend might been able to obtain some of her pictures, but it would be hard for her friend to receive money in your lady’s name without your lady’s permission. The scammers probably asked people to send money by Western Union or some other system like that. Western Union and MoneyGram require for the receiver to produce a valid passport before the money are released. We do not know how her friend would be able to make a good enough fake passport to fool the bank tellers who are trained to detect forgeries.

Most likely, your lady was really involved in the scam. But if you still have your doubts, carefully verify everything that she is telling you about herself.

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Is it possible that she was involved in scams in the past, but now she has really fallen in love with me and really wants to meet me?

(we will refer to this person as "your lady" in our answer, for simplicity sake)

Well, although it is possible, we have never seen it to happen in real life. If this person fooled other people's hearts in the past, then he/she is probably good at it. We would not advise to send money, unless you are are are morally prepared to take a financial and emotional hit if you, too, will find yourself to be a new victim in the list.

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There are too many black lists. I cannot possibly look through them all. Is there any place where I can go to see all reported scammers?

No, unfortunately, we do not know of any web site that would have such a compilation.

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Can I track where the emails are coming from?

You can try to do that, but if you are not a computer wiz, you would have to learn a few new things. 

Read this articles to get started on this subject:

How to track the original location via IP address - by Online Tech Tips

Since many scammers know that their location can be tracked via IP, they do what they can to go around this problem by using proxy servers and spoofed IP addresses. And, most of the time, it works. So, your ability to research the origins of the emails will depend largely on whether or not the scammers used proxy server. 

Please visit the links below for more info:

What headers can tell you about the origin of spam - by About.Com


Tools for detecting spoofed email headers - by Information Security Resources


Faked or Spoofed Email Detection - by Fraud Guides

We can tell you that if your penpal claims to be from Russia or Ukraine, but her headers suggest that she is in the USA, UK, Europe, Asia, or Africa, then you have a 95% chance that your little friend is a scammer.





How can I confirm that the photos I have been receiving actually belong to the person I am corresponding with?

Most people think that it is very easy to verify how someone looks like, or to obtain a photo of a person. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is no single source where you, or I, or the investigators in Russia / Ukraine can simply go to obtain a person’s real authentic photo. The only place where the photos could be guaranteed to be accurate are government archives, such as passport applications or driving license applications. No other source has a reliable source of pictures for citizens.

So, usually you have only four options that you can really count on:
1)  Internet research. We can try to check whether your lady has a profile on one of Russian social network sites. Network sites are very popular in Russia and Ukraine, and many people include their photos in their profiles there (but many don't!). This, however, is not a very reliable method of verification. First of all, your penpal may not even have a profile on any social network sites at all. Second of all, she may not post true authentic photos on her social network profile. Photos there could be purposefully misleading.

Despite these drawbacks, the Interner research is the fastest and most hassle-free option. If your lady has a social network profile, we could obtain all the photos she posted there. We recommend starting with this option and then looking at other possibilities.

2) A personal visit to the person’s apartment by one of the local investigators. Usually it is done under some pretence that is used to call the needed person to the door for a brief conversation. 

Please note that this method is best for comparing the photos visually or for obtaining a verbal description of a person, but it is not a good method of obtaining a photo. This method also has a big potential to fail (for example, if the needed person is not there at the time of the visit, or if the residents of the apartment refuse to open the door for a conversation, or some other similar circumstance), or arouse the person’s suspicions if he or she does not believe the pretence that the investigators used.

3)  A surveillance operation.  It allows the investigators to obtain photos of a person, but it is a very expensive option, plus the quality of the photo may disappoint you. Unlike what you see in movies, the quality of surveillance photos is USUALLY very poor, due to distance, camera resolution and the speed at which the camera can focus on a moving subject, not to mention the lighting and weather conditions. Good quality photos are relatively hard to obtain. 

3) A flower delivery. A florist with a bouquet of flowers could visit the apartment, present the flowers to the recipient, and ask the recipient to allow him to make a picture of the delivery process. If the recipient agrees, a couple of photos of the recipient with the flowers are made. If the recipient declines the request, then, unfortunately, the florist would have to honor that refusal. 

We used to offer flower delivery services on, but in the period of 7 years we only had 5 or 6 successful deliveries. The rest of the time the addressee did not show up for the meeting. Eventually, we cancelled this option to avoid enless back-and-forth with florists and refunds.


How can I found out who the person is in the pictures that I have been receiving?

If you have a picture of a supposedly Russian or Ukrainian citizen and you would like to find out whom it belongs to, then there are two possibilities that we could check:

1) the pictures could match the real person. If so, we could establish that using the picture verification methods listed above

2) the pictures do not match that person. In that case, the only option that we know about is to use the Online Photo Search to see if the pictures source can be found online.

Unfortunately, there is no database of photos of citizens of Russia and Ukraine, so most of the time it is impossible for the investigators to find a person by using his or her picture.

If the pictures match the real person, then she is not a scammer? She is genuine?

No. There are several types of dating scam that never use false pictures (see section below).Even in the travel scams, some scammers specialize in using real pictures. So, it is never safe to assume that a person is genuine, even if you met this person face-to-face. Unless you can read this person's mind, you do not know who is genuine and who is a pretendor.

Do the scammers use their own pictures?

It depends on the scam. Professional daters, “bigger, better deal” scammers, gold diggers, “accommodation” scammers, etc have no other choice but to provide their real photos to the people they plan to use for material gain. In anonymous types of scam ("visa and tickets," "translation," "fake dating agency"), when the scammer does not plan to actually meet the victims face to face, the scammers have an opportunity to buy or steal pictures of attractive females (actresses, singers, aspiring models, athletes) and use those pictures as “bait” to attract potential victims.

Scammers usually have 3 options as far as acquiring pictures:
1)      Hire a real person to pose for the pictures, or use their own pictures
2)      Buy the pictures from a third party (there are people who make money in Russia and Ukraine by finding and photographing attractive people and selling those photos to others)
3)      Find photos on the Internet (MySpace,, YahooPhotos, etc, as well as modeling sites, porn sites, escort services sites, sites of famous people, etc).

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How can I find out if a passport is a fake?


You should be able to check it's validity - our site currently offers only verification of validity for Russian and Ukrainian passports

By the way, we have a large database of fake passports that have been used in scams in the past. We can check our database to see whether we have any matching passports for you for an additional fee.


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Your report states that the passport I received is a fake. What should I do? 

A fake "passport" is a VERY serious indication that you are dealing with Internet criminals. In over 10 years of checking passports for our clients, we have never seen a case when an Internet acquaintance who sent out a fake passport ended up being an honest individual. Therefore, first thing that we recommend doing is to put a stop on any plans for meetings, trips, or any financial support. You should never make financial transactions with someone whose ID cannot be verified.

Next, we reecommend using the ScamPrint Analysis - a tool that allows you to see whether your penpal (or his/her possible aliases) has been emailing other men. If this person provided you with an address or some other information that you could check, we would recommend trying to verify important parts of that person's story before deciding how to proceed.

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Your research found duplicate passports matching the one my girlfriend provided. Should I show those passports to my girlfriend?

We do not recommend discussion your research with your girlfriend at all.

If you are talking to a scammer (and at this point it is very likely that you are talking to a scammer), you will never receive a truthful answer. Your friend can always claim that some unknown evil people made a copy of his/her passport somehow and that those evil people are to blame for all other passports that you found. 

Also, if indeed you are corresponding with is indeed an Internet criminal who is using fake passports to create different identities, you could supply him with intelligence that the passports with that serial number have been exposed, and that new passports need to be made for his false identities.

So, do not help scammers to avoid detection by providing them with information. Scammers are very quick learners, and they will use whatever information that you provide them to improve their act.


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How can scammers get away using fake passports? Wouldn’t the bank tellers notice that the passports are fake?

We address this question in this article

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Miscellaneous Questions

How much does it cost to open a bank account in Russia?

We receive this question alot because the scammers generally do not like providing their banking details to the victims and, when pressed to provide banking information, they tend to claim that they cannot afford to open a bank account because it costs a bazillion of rubles. 

According to our research, the cost of opening an account at SBERBANK (The Savings Banks of Russian Federation, which is the primary state bank) costs 10 rubles (this sum is matched to the the price of one gram of silver, apparently), which is a fraction of a dollar. Please advise your Russian penpals to use SberBank accounts. 




How can I scam the scammers?

We get this question alot. 

Although it is rare that someone can trick the scammers into sending him some cash, here is what you CAN: make the scammers spend some time and money on you, and then make them walk away frustrated and empty-handed. 

How can you do that? Very simply. Keep the scammer hoping that you will send some money, but keep finding reasons to postpone doing so, or make the scammers jump through hoops to demonstrate to you that they are "real," or that they "really love you." Keep whining about being afraid to trust your heart, etc. 

It is not free for the scammers to correspond with you! They pay for the Internet access, for electricity, and for the use of paid proxy servers (if they use proxy servers). If the scammers work as a group, they pay for the employees of the group to sit and type in messages for you, and they pay rent on their rented scam-apartment. You can estimate that a month of your correspondence probably costs the scammer around $30-$100. Most importantly of all, the time and money they spend on you cannot be used to make money someplace else. So, they take the financial hit twice.

Here is what you to do if you want to implement this tactic:

1) ask for a copy of the passport, then for a birth certificate, then for a high school diploma, etc, etc. Say that security online is your primary objective! It takes time and patience to falsify those, and that is the time that will scammer won't be able to spend luring other potential victims. (By the way, please forward all the documents you received from the scammer to us - they will be a nice addition to our growing collection of fake documents).

2) keep requesting different highly-specialized photos of your penpal, for example next to a street lamp, then or in an elevator, then next to her apartment door, then by the window. Do not take the "I don't have a camera" excuse for an answer. Tell her that you will find her money for her if she can find a camera to do what you asked. The scammers will scramble to keep you on the hook, very possibly spending some cash to arrange the needed photos.

3) Periodically announce that you are ready to send money, but every time come up with a different reason why you postponed doing so. 

Once the scammer can no longer take it, announce to them that your heart is broken but make sure that you make everything "her" fault. This type of open-ended finale will drive the scammers on the wall with frustration.

Once your little game is over, publish everything you obtained from them on a black list, so other potential victims could find that information and avoid losing money. 


Here is what not to do:

1) do not tell the scammer that you are on to them - they will just move on to a less problematic victim, and your "scam the scammer" game will be over

2) do not provide them with any financial information about yourself. or even your full address, if possible. Many scammers are also involved in check scams or credit card scams. 



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Can the scammer retaliate against me or my family?

We have never seen any scammers being able to employ any kind of physical retaliation against anyone so far. So, no, we would not expect Russian Mafia to break into your home any time soon.

Here is a good example. Elena Garrett, the owner of this site, has been one of the most relentless and open crusaders against scammers for the past 12 years, costing the scammers thousands of dollars in weekly revenues, teaching Internet users how to avoid the scams and how to scam the scammers, and assisting victims with contacting Russian authorities. The scammers are very much aware of the damage that Russian Detective is doing to their financial bottom line, and several cyber-attacks have been made against this web site, but so far no physical retaliation incidents have taken place. She travels freely and openly to Russia and back every year. 

However, do not become too relaxed. If the the scammers become really angry at you, they can try to send you some nasty virus or a Trojan to try to cause you to lose your data or have to buy a new computer altogether. Also, keep in mind that many dating scammers also practice credit card theft, so watch out - they can attempt to to steal your passwords and sensitive financial data.

When dealing with scammers (even if for a short while), it is always a good idea to keep your antivirus program up to date (we personally recommend Kaspersky Internet Security Suit), to set your email account security level at high, and not to click on any animations or strange attachments that the scammers may insert into their email. 

To learn more about ways to secure your email (to the greatest extend possible), go to any search engine, type in "email security," and read some of the more novice-friendly articles. 

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I heard that one guy wrote a letter to President Putin, and Putin got the scammers arrested and sent to jail. I wonder if I could do the same.

Yes, the story is true. In 2001, an Australian guy who lost money due to the scam wrote a letter to then-President Putin and Mr. Putin (or his staff) forwarded the case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for investigation. You can read the whole story here.

Since that story got published, we have received alot of requests from our viewers and clients to look up Mr. Putin's address. Since we continue to receive these requests, we are publishing for you the mailing address of the current President of Russian Federation (as of 2009, that would be Mr. Dimirty Medvedev):

President of Russian Federation

23 Ilinka St.

Moscow 103132 

Russian Federation

(address information updates can be obtained from


To save on postage, you can contact the current President by email, provided that you stay within 10 thousand word limit and can read/write Russian to answer the questions in the contact form that you will be filling out.


Mr. Putin, currently being the Prime Minister of the RF, has his own site, and the link ASK PRIME MINISTER should take you to an electronic form that you fill out to contact him.

Now, having provided that information, let us add that although contacting Mr. Medvev and Mr. Putin sounds like the most exciting thing you can do, we would suggest that you contact Mr. Medvedev or Mr. Putin only after you have filed a complaint with Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and have not heard from them back within 6 months or more. 

Here is why.

1) The Ministry of Internal Affairs is the actual agency that is authorized to investigate and  prosecute crimes in Russia. Sending a complaint to them directly will result in much more prompt action on the side of the law enforcement. Sending your complaint to Mr. President will likely result in a large delay, since your complaint will have to travel from the the President's office to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and then the Ministry will have to contact you back asking you to file your complaint properly. 

2) Quite a few people have been reporting to us over the years that they have sent requests for assistance to Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev. If Mr. Putin or Mr. Medvedev ever took interest in any of those cases, we do not know, but so far we have not seen any particular difference that it would make in their cases. 

So, we would urge you to contact the MVD (Russian abbreviation for the Ministry of Internal Affairs) before you contact Mr. President, since there have been alot more prosecution cases coming from the Ministry of Internal Affairs than from the President's office. Just make sure that you submit your complaint properly. Not just any piece of info received about the scammers can make its way into a criminal case. There are legal standards that both you and police will be following. For example, there is more involved in filing a formal complaint than just writing a page or two venting your feelings about the situation. Besides properly writing the complaint itself, you will need to support your complaint with sufficient evidence and notarize it to make it an official document.

To find out how to submit a complaint properly, visit our Prosecution page

Note: you can file a complaint if you are a victim of the scam. If you have not suffered any financial loss, you are not technically a victim. 

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I am worried that I might be corresponding with a scammer. What should I do?

There are two main things that you will need to do:

1) educate yourself about scams to the point where you can name 2 or 3 major scams and describe how they operate;

2) verify at least some of the information that you were provided by your penpal.

Listen to your head (it it is trying to tell you something). Do not feel guilty for having doubts. If you are corresponding with an honest person, the research will confirm that, so you will be able to rest at ease. If you are corresponding with a dishonest person, the research might save you alot of heartache and financial trouble. 

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How can I find out if the person I am corresponding with is a real person?

If your main goal is to confirm that such and such person really exists, then your main source of information will be public records of in-person verification of some sort. 

You have 4 options to consider:

1)      You can hire our company or another private investigative company

2)      You can hire a flower delivery company to deliver flowers to your lady’s address and ask them to take a picture of the recipient

3)      You can find someone (like a friend) who lives in the same city as your lady, and ask him to visit her and check

4)      You can travel to her city yourself and visit her address to see if she really lives there.

But before you can decide how to proceed, you will need to put together a set of questions that you consider vital to the verification of this person's identity. Only then you would be able to decide who could do the best job answering those questions.

For example, lets say that you are corresponding with a lady who said that her name is Natalia Petrova, 25 years old, working a nurse, and living at 555 Main Street, Kirov city.

First, you need to decide what must be confirmed for you to conclude that this person is “real.”

·         Does her age need to be confirmed for her to be “real”? What if other data matches, but the age does not?

·         Does her employment need to be confirmed for her to be “real”? What if other data matches, but the employment does not?

·         Does her address need to be confirmed for her to be “real”? What if other data matches, but the address does not?

·         Do her photos need to match for her to be “real”? What if other data matches, but the photos do not?

Note: if you do not know the lady’s last name, verification process will be extremely difficult. We advise you to know the lady’s first name, last name, and her exact date of birth before you contact the investigative company. It would be even more useful to ask your lady to provide you with a copy of her passport.

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Can I use a phone book to check whether a particular person lives in a particular city?

Probably not. For your check to be successful, several things would all have to be in your favor

1) this person would have a landline phone

2) this person's phone number would be listed in the phone book

3) this person's phone number would be listed in his name, and not in the name of a family member or a landloard, for example

Phone books usually do not provide full name of the owner of the phone number. Usually, they provide just the last name and the initials. For example, a listing for Natalia Nikolaevna Petrova would appear like this: "Petrova N. N. Main St. 555 -  456 7890 " 

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Choosing a private investigative company

There are many Russian and Ukrainian private investigative companies that place their advertisements online. How do you know which one to choose?

1)      Location. If the investigative company is located in Moscow, Russia, and your lady lives in Kiev, Ukraine, then all other things being equal, it may make more sense to contact a Ukrainian investigative company.

2)      Trustworthiness of the site. There are many two-months-frauds on the Internet who open a web site for about 2-3 months, collect money from clients, and then disappear in the thin air. If you do not want to get scammed that way, spend a couple of hours finding a trustworthy company. Check for the following information:

a.       Does this site has it’s own domain name? The domain name should look like this: “” or “” Dot-com or dot-net after the site’s name indicate that they own the domain. The sites’ domain name should NOT look like this: “” ending, in this example, means that the site is really owned by Yandex .ru who provides free anonymous space for the site.

b.      Does the company provide sufficient contact information? A legitimate private investigative company will display their mailing address and their phone or fax number. Russia-based investigative companies also will likely provide their PI license information. If this information is missing for the company’s web site, we would not recommend trusting them with your money and information.

c.       Have there been any complaints about this company in the past? Use Google or Yahoo search engines to check that. Type in the company’s name or phone number or any other information about them into a search engine and click “Search.” Look through links that will be displayed. Maybe you will find some interesting information there. If there is no information at all about this company on the Internet, then we would advise you to be careful about this company. It is better to use a company with at least some history.

d.      Prices. If the prices are too good to resist, you can expect some kind of a catch. Good quality private investigative services in Russia and Ukraine are expensive, because the laws in these countries make it very difficult for the investigators to collect information legally.  Very low prices means that either the quality of the info will be questionable, or the site is just a “two-months-fraud” and the owners plan to disappear with your money.

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If I give you my lady’s information, can you tell me whether she is a scammer?  

We cannot tell whether someone is a scammer just by looking at their pictures, or their name, or address. Sometimes we can kind of estimate what your chances are by learning about what this lady has said and done up to this point. But it would be our opinion, nothing more.

What we can do, however, is to do some due diligence checks, or to verify whether or not the facts that she is providing to you about herself are true. Based on the results of our research, you should be able to decide for yourself whether this person is a scammer or not.

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How will a private investigator confirm my lady’s identity?

The type of research that he will do will depend on the type of questions that you will ask his to research. 

Things like full name, age, and registered address can be confirmed using public records or special databases that are compiled based on public records. 

Photos would probably need to be verified by arranging a visit to the lady's address. 

Employment and marital status would have to be arranged through public records.

Before you even contact the investigator, you will need to decide for yourself what you would consider a sufficient confirmation that your lady is a real person.  

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How reliable are your services?

We would say that our services are reliable 85-95% of the time, depending on which service you are having in mind. Of course, both we and our clients would like to see all services that we provide to be100% reliable, but please keep in mind that Russian laws and government structure make it very difficult for private investigators to perform their function in general, and that we work long-distance with Russian and Ukrainian investigators and ex-law enforcement agents (both are people who not exactly known for their their service-oriented attitudes anyway), whose decision, actions and schedules we cannot physically control.

There are 3 kinds of problems that potentially can occur during an investigation: a human error (as when either we or the investigators screw up), a non-human error (as when a database provides the investigators with erroneous information, for example), and unexpected circumstances (as when an investigator gets sick and cannot complete the assignment on time, for example).

Some services are inheritably more prone to human mistakes than other. The more human involvement takes place during a particular research, the higher are the chances that someone will screw something up at some point.

However, in approximately 8 cases out of 10, everything goes relatively smoothly. 

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Will she find out if she is being investigated?

Usually, the investigators do everything they can to keep their activities in secret (that is in their best interest!). In 99%  of our cases, the research that the investigators conducted was never detected by the subject of the investigation. However, there are cases when the detection of their activities can potentially occur.

1)      Sloppy work. Some investigators occasionally take steps that were not discussed ahead of time, and ran into situations where their activities caught the subject’s attention. Or, perhaps, they just did not prepare well enough for their assignment, or did not complete all the steps they were supposed to follow. Things like that happen from time to time, unfortunately, and when they do happen, we do everything we can to compensate the client for human slip-ups. 

2)      Unfortunate circumstances – those are things that the investigators could have not foreseen. For example, if the investigators requests police records, and the police officer who was in charge of issuing those records just happened to be the girl’s neighbor, or close friend. Of if a different investigative company was researching the same lady at the same time, and the double-inquiries raised suspicions in the girl’s mind.

3)      Calculated risk that did not pay off. Some services that the clients request carry with them inherited risk of detection. A good example is surveillance services. Even the most skilled investigators occasionally get detected in their work because the environment in which they work is so unpredictable and full of potential lose-lose situations. Malfunctions of equipment (like cell phones) and miscommunications between the members of the surveillance team create situations when they expose themselves. Also, the style of their personality will play a role. Some investigators are risk-takers by nature, while others are safe-players… When you are ordering a surveillance service, you have very little control as to who precisely will be on the surveillance team.

If you would like to have some idea about the risk of your lady figuring out that she is being investigated, take a look at the "risk rating" of our services in the table below:

Service Risk level (from 0 to 5)
Internet Scam Check


Instant Passport Verification 0
Phone Number Registration Research 0
List of Registered Residents at a Given Address 0
Real Estate and Vehicle Ownership Records Research 0
3-Point Check 0
Criminal Records Check 0
Tracking Ownership Records for ID Documents 1
Employment Research (Through Official Records) 1
Marriage History, Children (Through Official Records) 2
Employment Research (Through Actual Observation) 3
Medical Records Research 3
Actual Address Research / Verification 4
Dating Situation Research (not through surveillance) 4
Surveillance 5

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Your report says that the investigators could not find the records that matched my penpal's data. Could the report be wrong?

The results of the RAL Check could be misleading under the following conditions:

  • the spelling of your penpal's name in Cyrillic does not match the English spelling (it happens occasionally)

  • your penpal's registered residence is in some other region (other than the one we checked). If (s)he is renting an apartment or staying with some relatives, we might not be able to confirm her identity until we find out what region (s)he is actually registered in

  • your penpal changed his/her region of residence within the year or two. The databases we are using might not have that updated information yet

Generally, all of these doubts can be resolved if your penpal provides you with a copy of his/her internal passport, because the internal passports are issued by the local, not federal agencies. Whatever the city the passport was issued in, that is the city where your penpal's is officially registered. So, if you could ask your penpal to provide you with a copy of his/her internal passport, it would help to clarify the situation.

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The RAL check confirmed the information I was provided by my friend. Does it mean that (s)he is not a scammer?

You can be about 94-95% sure that (s)he is not a visa-and-tickets or translation agency scammer (to increase the percentage of certainty, we would recommend an letter analysis

However, visa-and-tickets and the translation agency scam are not the only online schemes that you need to worry about. Please read the Classification of Dating Scammers to learn about other types.


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The ScamPrint Analysis was not able to find any matches to my penpal's letters online. Does it mean that (s)he is not a scammer?

The fact that the ScamPrint Analysis was not able to find any matches is very encouraging. You can be about 80% sure that (s)he is not a visa-and-tickets or translation agency scammer (to increase the percentage of certainty, we would recommend performing a REL check). 

What would be the reasons that the ScamPrint Analysis was not able to detect a scammer? 

  • the scammer might be not a typical "serial" scammer, the type that we see most often. Some visa-and-tickets or translation agency scammer chose to go with quality instead of quantity, and correspond only with a handful of intended victims, which makes them much more difficult to detect by ordinary detection methods. 

  • the scammer's letters might have been received by other intended victims, but none of those other men have posted anything online about the letters that they are receiving

  • if other people posted the scammer's letters on little-known web sites, the online search engines may take several weeks or even months to find the posted information. 

Also, please remember that visa-and-tickets and the translation agency scam are not the only online schemes that you need to worry about. Please read the Classification of Dating Scammers to learn about other types.

Also, please know the indicators of the visa-and-tickets scam by heart. If your penpal exhibits several indicators described on this web site, it means that you need to be thinking of other ways to verify your penpal's stories. 

Which letters are most useful for the ScamPrint Analysis?

Here are the letters that are usually most useful to us:
1) the very first email you received from your Russian friend
2) the initial emails in which your Russian friend tells you about her city, her
family, her job
3) the email in which she first plans to come and visit you
4) the first email in which she mentions money
5) the emails in which she tell you about the costs of her trip to
you, or her visit to a travel agency
6) any emails you might have received from a travel agency
7) the email where she provides you with her full name
8) the email where she provides you with instructions for sending money

Which letters are the least useful? The letters that you received after your lady already started to discuss the money and her travel arrangements, or the letters that you received after you already sent the money.



How can I be 100% sure that I am not corresponding with a scammer?

No one can ever be, neither on the Internet nor in real life. As long as humans cannot read each others' minds, they will not be able to know for sure who will turn out to be a trustworthy person and who will turn out to be liar.

Although visa-and-tickets scammers, translation agency scammers, and fake dating agency scammers are relatively easy to weed out using the Scam Detector method, other types of scammers are much harder to detect, and, unfortunately, they are also more dangerous. So, educate yourself about the different types of scams, and watch for them even if you had a successful meeting in person.



Your free evaluation report says that there is a high probability that I am corresponding with a scammer. What should I do?

First of all, do not send any money (or any more money) to the person in question.

Second of all, you have three options. 

  1. You can decide to disregard our warning 

  2.  You can continue enjoying your conversation with the person in question. As long as you do not send any money, for any reason (especially any assistance for travel expenses), you are relatively safe. Do not share any financial information about yourself, however.

  3.  You can attempt to verify information that your penpal provided you with. Here are your options:

    1. You can order a Registered Address Locator to verify your penpal's basic biographical data. You will need to know your friend's last name and birthday to utilize this service.

    2. You can ask your penpal to provide you with a copy of his / her passport and then verify the validity of the passport

    3. You can order an Letter Analysis, which is a pretty effective tool for detecting certain types of scammers even if you do not know your penpal's full name yet.




Your report suggests that I might be corresponding with a scammer. What should I do?

First of all, if the person in question is awaiting any monetary transfers from you, do not send any money until your penpal's personal information and story are at least somewhat confirmed. 

If you are not sure whether to trust the results of the research, you can hire another company to double-check our results.

If you trust the results but you still cannot form your own opinion on whether or not your penpal is trustworthy, ordering additional verification services might be helpful. You can contact us for suggestions. 

If the results of the research confirm your worst suspicions and you feel that no additional verifications are necessary, we would suggest the following:

- You can confront your penpal with the results of your research if you wish, but do not expect any fearful reactions, tearful confessions, or any other  responses that would give you emotional closure. All experienced scammers are well-accustomed to being questioned, doubted, and confronted.  Most of their victims confront them or question them at one time or another. Handling such situations is such a big part of their work, and they usually have well-rehearsed responses that would let them regain their emotional control over you. 

- Instead of letting the scammer know that you are aware of their game, we usually recommend either leaving the correspondence abruptly or playing with the scammer to make him or her waste time . Accusations, threats, or demands for truthful answer will most likely be a waste of your time.

 - If you are feel reasonably sure that you are corresponding with a scammer, we would advise you to try and alert other Internet users about the scam. Most scammers correspond with several potential victims at the same time, so it is very likely that there are other men who might be corresponding with the same scammer right now. Sharing information online is one of the ways to impede the scammers' business. Therefore we suggest that, once your suspicions are confirmed, you post information about the scammer on varioud Internet black lists and forums. We have our own black list of scammers (click here to enter it), but our list is not the only one (click here to view more listings).

- If you already sent any money to the scammer, the only way you can take any meaningful legal action against the scammer is by contacting Russian/Ukrainian police. But even if law enforcement gets involved, return of your money is highly unlikely. As a rule, once you sent money to the scammers, that money are gone.

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What is the best way to contact you?

The best way to contact us in general is through email. The second best is by phone. Please visit Contact page.

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How can I make a payment?

To find out what payment options are available to you in general, visit our Payments page.

If the service you are trying to order has a Add to Cart button, use the shopping cart functionality to check out online. If the service requires you to obtain a quote first, contact us for a quote. 

If you do not wish to pay online, contact us via email or phone to discuss payment options.

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Do you want me to send you information about the scammer I am corresponding with?

For legal reasons, we prefer that you post the report yourself . Please visit our forum to create an account and open a discussion thread.

If you do not know how to use forum environment, or if you cannot create a profile in the forum, contact us via email and we will help with posting the info.


Do you want me to send you pictures of the scammer I am corresponding with?

Normally, we do not. If you have pictures to share, post them on our forum


How can I send you some pictures?

Please contact us first and describe what pictures you plan to send and why, and we will let you know where to forward the pictures.


I received an email from you with a note "WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO ANSWER YOUR EMAIL." What does this mean?

It means that in your email we did not have enough information for us to to decide what to do with you letter.

Most of the time it is due to the fact that people send us a short 1 or 2-line message (for example, "Hey, check these pics for me. J." ,  or "Elena, can you check someone out? (unsigned)" or "Did you receive my email? Jack M.") without providing a more detailed explanation of who they are, when they contacted us last, what we have discussed with them before, whether or not we have an open case with them, and what specifically they want us to do.

To avoid having your emails returned, please make sure to include the following information in your email:

1) Provide an informative subject line. 

  •     subject lines like "Hi!," "Hello," "please help," "answer asap," "info for you," "information," "from Jack," "Re:" are not considered to be informative. 

2) Make sure that your letter states clearly what information you want us to provide to you. Requests like "Hey, check these pics for me." or "Is this lady a scammer?" are not specific enough for us to assess your case. 


Why haven't you replied to my email?

If you sent us an email, please allow 24-48 hours for us to get back to you. We have a very large amount of correspondence to handle every day, and both people working in the agency are full-time college students. 

If your request is very urgent, you may want to try calling us, but be aware that most of the time the phone goes to an answering machine. . 

If after 2 days you have not heard from us, there could be several reasons for that:

1) our email to you might have been mistakenly placed in your SPAM folder - please check it before doing anything else.

2) your email may have never arrived, or, if it arrived, our spam filter may have moved it into a spam folder

If you did not receive a reply from us within 48 hours, go ahead and re-send your email again, or give us a call to check on the status of your request in person. 



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If I give you my lady’s information, can you check whether she is a scammer?

How can I check if a travel agency is real?

Do Russians/Ukrainians really have to pay a certain amount of money to be able to leave the country?

Can Russian police arrest the scammer when she comes to pick up the money at Western Union?

Do you want me to send you information about the scammer I am corresponding with?

How can I confirm that the photos I have been receiving actually belong to the person I am corresponding with?




What does a real Russian passport look like?