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The Russian Wife scam: Single males, BEWARE

Last updated on: October 6, 2012 10:11 IST

The Russian Wife scam: Single males, BEWARE

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Debasis Nayak

The latest fraud unfolding online has scammers targetting 'single' males.

The Internet, it seems, is a Godsend to the lonely, both young and old! It offers perfect anonymity and the sting of rejection is rendered impotent by the impenetrable armour of optic fibre and copper cables which transfer introductions without the discomfort of physical proximity for the shy and reticent. However, the same anonymity can lead to beautiful traps as in the case of the Russian Wife scam!

Target selection

In these scams, the targets are chosen from popular social networking sites like Orkut or Facebook. The preferred targets are usually 'single' males. This is probably not difficult as such profiles abound on every social networking site.

Modus operandi

Initiating contact

The first contact is with e-mails, where the fraudster sends e-mail with an attractive looking photograph telling the victim that she found his profile attractive. She usually gives some information to introduce herself and asks for similar information from the victim. The unsuspecting victim, now curious, replies with information about himself.

The author is director, Asian School of Cyberlaw




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Building trust

Victim's reply marks beginning of a communication process which may last from 6 to 15 weeks during which the fraudster progressively familiarises herself and moves to a degree of intimacy with the victim. At the end of this period, the scammer and the victim behave as if they are in a proper, romantic relationship.

The communication then typically progresses to a point where the victim and the fraudster want to meet to take the relationship further. Usually, the fraudster becomes ready to travel to wherever the victim stays. In rare cases, she may ask the victim to travel to her location, in which case, these scams take a more dangerous turn as the victim, then, is in a real danger of being kidnapped in a foreign country for ransom.

In most cases, however, the fraudster showing her willingness to travel is common.

The scam

Once the travel date is finalised, all the requisite travel documents are requested by the scammer lending a degree of authenticity to the chain of events. By this time the victim is eagerly anticipating the arrival of his "girlfriend".

However, just 3 or 4 days before the departure date, the scammer lets the victim know that meeting may not be possible since she does not have the requisite funds for travel and visa, displaying helplessness but not directly asking for money. By this time, the victim is ready to send her money to help her out. On one pretext or the other, the fraudster keeps siphoning money from the victim till he realises that he is being defrauded.

Since these frauds mostly originate from Russia, the name the Russian Wife-scam.




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Cure

Because of the nature of these frauds, most victims are too embarrassed to approach law enforcement agencies. For those that do, investigation begins with retrieval of IP address from e-mail headers to track the physical location of the fraudster. Most of these IP addresses show the physical location to be in Russia. Again, for all practical purposes, investigation does not proceed further. Therefore, in such cases, prevention is better than cure!

Prevention

If you get a beautiful photograph and a friend request out of the blue and it feels too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true! Reject the request! If you feel you must accept the request, take things slowly. If you feel you are being rushed into intimacy, stop! Provided, you want to stop, that is!

In such cases, it may help to remind yourself that the person you are communicating with is perhaps a huge hulk of a man!

We, of course, proclaim our single status proudly on every social networking site we have registered on. It is time to know better!

Click NEXT to read more an interesting case study



Tags: BEWARE , Russia

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A case study...

Introductory e-mail as shown in the adjacent image

Once the victim replies to this e-mail, the mails gradually adopt a more familiar tone leading to intimacy.

Every e-mail is typically accompanied with a photograph of the fraudster slowly establishing a level of trust till the point of time the victim trusts the fraudster enough to send money to her.



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Advanced stage of communication

Given is an e-mail showing intimacy in its tone at an advanced stage of communication, again accompanied by a photograph (see the adjacent image)



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The clincher

Finally, a stage is reached where the fraudster makes it apparent that till the victim sends money, she will not be able to travel. The e-mail (check the adjacent image) clearly shows her desperation and helplessness, at the same time not directly asking the victim for money, a clear psychological ploy so that the victim is induced to fall for the scam...

For a psychologically compromised victim, he is more than ready to wire the money and that's where it all begins, or ends, as the case maybe!



Tags: BEWARE

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