Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dating Schemes, Marriage Fraud in Ukraine

United States citizens should be alert to attempts at fraud by persons claiming to live in Ukraine who offer goods for sale or profess friendship, romantic interest, and /or marriage intentions over the Internet. Neither the Embassy nor the Department of State is in a position to help recover lost money or property in such cases.

Purchasing goods via the Internet: U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution when conducting on-line transactions with parties in Ukraine. The Embassy receives frequent reports from Americans who have transferred funds to Ukraine for the purchase via on-line auctions of goods that never arrive. Likewise, the Embassy also receives reports of non-payment for items shipped to addresses in Ukraine. When considering such transactions, exercise due diligence.

Dating Schemes and Marriage Fraud: The most frequent reports of scams the Embassy and the Department of State receive relate to on-line dating and marriage services. Correspondents who quickly move to professions of romantic interest or discussion of intimate matters could very well be scammers. The anonymity of the Internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. In many cases, the correspondent turns out to be a fictitious persona created only to lure the U.S. citizen into sending money.

Typically, once a connection is made, the correspondent asks the U.S. citizen to send money or credit card information for living expenses, travel expenses, or "visa costs." Sometimes, the correspondent notifies the American citizen that a close family member is ill and begins to request monetary assistance. In other instances, the scammer cites the need to pay for travel expenses and “necessary travel documents” or expresses the need for funds to settle a property or other legal dispute in order to leave Ukraine.

A request for funds almost always marks a fraudulent correspondent. American citizens who fall prey to these scams have reported suffering emotional damage as well as losing thousands of dollars. U.S. citizens are cautioned against sending any money to persons they have not actually met. If they do choose to send money, they can take several precautions.

No comments: