International Dating scams that men need to be aware of
So, you're contemplating sticking your big toe or even throwing your whole body into the world of International Dating. Congratulations! International Dating is a great option, it worked well for me 16 years ago, and it has worked for countless others. However, just like anything else, there are some things that you want to be careful of so you do not fall prey to any scams, minor or major. This article is not intended to cover every possible scam out there, but we have been operating one of the largest international dating services for the last 18 years and we have seen just about everything there is to see in the way of scams. A word to the wise, do not become overly cautious or paranoid. I believe the vast majority of women have the same goal as you do, meeting someone with whom they can build a happy life, simple as that. Unfortunately, as with anything involving humans, there will always be a small percentage who do have a different agenda, those are the ones that you have to be careful about.
1. Money! Money! Money!: Most, if not all, scams have to do with money in one way or another. Here is a very simple rule to live by, never give money to anyone. Let me repeat that, never give money to anyone. Now, many of you will choose to ignore this advice, so when you do decide to give money understand that you will probably never see the money again, and that the woman may use the money in ways that differ from what she told you she would use it for. You can't buy love. These women survived just fine prior to meeting you so there is no reason that once they meet you that they all of the sudden need you to save them and support them, just doesn't make sense. You are looking for a healthy and happy relationship with both sides giving, not just you being the bank.
2. Visas: This normally occurs with a woman (or someone pretending to be a woman) E-mailing you and developing a relationship. They will spend a few weeks or even months developing this relationship and you will be madly in love (although you shouldn't be because you haven't even met her yet!). Then she will tell you that she can get a visa to come see you and that she is going to pawn some precious heirloom or sell a body part to come up with half the money and she just needs another $500.00 from you. So you, being madly in love, send the $500.00 and after that they really have you because - in for a penny in for a pound. So then she will tell you that she has the visa but to travel she has to show that she has $1,500.00 in her account, so she needs you to send that. Then she will tell you that she needs another $1,000.00 for the airline ticket etc. etc. etc. It is amazing how far some of these have gone, I have seen one where, after the woman (or someone) had gotten about $3,000.00 from the man she ran out of reasons so she told him that she was kidnapped in Moscow! The bottom line guys is that nothing is that easy. This takes work and in my 18 years of experience I have only seen something like that actually work like once, not good odds at all.
3. Interpreters: This one is a little complicated so do not be overall cautious but look out for it. Interpreters, just like anyone else, have every right to make money for the services they provide. The problem comes in when the woman and the interpreter and or agency are working together just so they can collect money on the interpreter services. This can happen and there are easy ways to spot it and to stop it. If the woman asks to use her friend or her "agencies" interpreter ask if it would be ok if you use an independent third party interpreter so that you can get to know her and not have to worry about impressing the friend. If it is the first date and she really insists on using someone that she knows because she is comfortable then go ahead and go. But after the second or third date you should insist in using an independent interpreter and if she still refuses there may very well be an issue. In an effort to avoid this conflict our company does not make a commission on interpreters (except a possible nominal $5.00 fee in some offices for arranging the interpreter, but never a per hour fee) but many agencies who supply interpreters do make a per hour fee, kind of like an employment agency, so you do have to be careful that the woman is not working with her friend just so she, and her friend can make money. Also, you can and should negotiate the rate. At the time of this writing the fee is normally about $15.00 per hour, even $20.00 an hour in some areas. However, if you are going to be out for 3 or 4 hours or longer you can easily get that down to 10.00 an hour or so.
4. English Lessons: So your girl doesn't speak English but she wants to learn and you are happy to help with the cost of the lessons. I do not see this very often but every once in a while a situation will come up where the woman will insist that she wants to arrange for the classes herself and you give her the money directly. Again, there is that money thing we talked about above. So after 6 months or so the best she can do is say hello, goodbye thank you, etc,. At this point it is obvious that she is either a very slow learner or that money was diverted to other purposes, my guess would be the latter. The best way to avoid this problem is to hire an independent company to provide the lessons. If she tells you that she would rally rather use x company, tell her that you have a credit with this other company that you want to use so it would be much better to use them. If she still insists then move forward with caution because there may be a problem.
5. Travel/apartments/taxis: You have been talking with a woman on line and haven't met yet and she really wants you to come over and see her, great right? Maybe. First of all I do not recommend going halfway around the world just to meet one woman, way too many things can go wrong and the odds of success are very low, even if you have been talking to her for 5 years, which is another no no. But let's say that you really want to go and meet this woman. So being the nice person that she is she arranges everything for you, the apartment, the travel, even the interpreter if needed. Seems great, but the problem is that you will always wonder in the back of your mind if she is doing all this because she really likes me and wants to help me, or is she really just a travel agent in disguise and only cares about the commissions she may be earning on the services that she is booking. The best way to prevent this problem is to have a third party do all of the travel arrangements, apartments, taxi, even the interpreter if possible.
6. Expensive dinners: We all like to go out to eat and we like to impress, so there is nothing wrong with taking a woman that you like out to a nice restaurant and having a great meal. Every once in a while you may meet someone in a foreign country who may try and take advantage of your good nature and your lack of knowledge of the area, language, and customs. She may take you to a very expensive restaurant, I mean where you can drop $500.00 to $1,000.00 on dinner and drinks. I have never been able to verify this but I have heard rumors that some women might even get some kind of credit or kickback if they bring someone in and spend that much. Again, I have never seen it happen myself in 18 years but I suppose it is possible. There is an easy way to protect yourself from this problem. Educate yourself as to what restaurants are available in your price range, talk to local people to get an idea of where you will be comfortable and then take her to that restaurant. If she is really interested in you she will be impressed and normally happy that you took the imitative to find a place to go and took charge. If she insists on only going to this one certain (expensive) restaurant that she picked, then tell her maybe next time, of if you do decide to go be very careful as to what is being ordered as one bottle of wine could be $500.00. There is nothing wrong with taking charge. We always advise our clients of the restaurants and prices and always encourage them to choose the place so something like that will never happen. If her only interest was to try and take advantage of you it will become obvious very soon and she will not waster her time, or yours!
7. Shopping Dates: We have always, always advised against shopping dates. Again, you can't buy love, and actually I think that women lose respect for you if you try to buy their affection right away, or at any time for that matter. If a woman happens to pop in to a shoe store or a dress shop and starts looking around your best bet is to be very non-committal and if she actually asks you to purchase something you can always say something like, once I get to know you better that may be a good surprise. There is nothing wrong with giving gifts, but if the woman is leading you and asking you for them that can be problematic.
8. Chat: I believe you have to be careful with chat. Chat is supposed to be real time and the woman is supposed to be there chatting with you. The reason we do not offer chat on A Foreign Affair is that we found that it was very difficult to have these women come in and chat to men they do not even know or have ever met, especially with the time difference involved. These women are busy they have lives and they have jobs, unless their job is to sit there and chat, it is difficult for them. I have heard stories from men who said they were chatting on a site with a woman while they were in her country and then she showed up for a date at the same time while she was supposedly still chatting, not good! I believe it is possible that there are some agencies that may have one person chat and pretend to be other women and chat with multiple men at once. This is the main reason we have decided not to offer chat on our site.
9. Writing letters: No matter whose site you use to write letters if you are using a third party translator you always want to verify that the woman is getting all of the letters and understanding them properly and that they are being fully and properly translated. A good way to do this is to do a quick call and talk to her and maybe discuss some important points that were in the letter. 10. Business investments/Real Estate: Again, I do not see this very often but I have seen men get tangled up in business investments with women or family members of the women that they meet. Whether this is a scam or not is debatable, but you have to be very careful with any investment and I think even more so in a case like this. You may not understand all the complexities of the investment or the Real Estate transaction, especially since it is taking place ina foreign county. The best way to protect yourself from this is to either not get involved at all and keep int on a dating basis, or if you really want to get involved have a unbiased third party like an attorney that you find independently and with references get involved to protect your interests.
I hope this article has helped you and has not scared you away from this great opportunity of International Dating. I think if you keep your eyes open and when in doubt ask questions to us or someone with experience you will be fine. Over the years I have seen so many positive things that have happened and very few of the negative, but just like with domestic dating there will always be some negative issues to deal with, but if we take responsibility for our actions and do our homework we should be just fine!
President of A Foreign Affair