Anyone using online dating or social media can be a victim.

Eastern Europe, with a highly-educated population and high unemployment rate, is fertile ground for romance confidence scams.

Due diligence may not be very romantic, says this international investigator.

But it can save you thousands of dollars…and a violated heart.

There are no reliable stats for how many Americans fall prey to online dating scams every year. A loterijlot of victims are too embarrassed to report the crime. Scammers target the vulnerable—widows and widowers, the elderly, the lonely and isolated. They ask their marks to send money for travel expenses, steal their identities, or even, from time to time, persuade them to commit crimes.

Investigator John Harper goes his stiff’s Eastern European investigations team and answers a few questions about the challenges of due diligence ter the former Soviet sphere. Harper is lead investigator for Russia PI™—a wholly wielded subsidiary of Wymoo International, a Florida-based professional private investigation company specializing ter international background checks and due diligence.

Harper manages the rock-hard’s investigations for Eastern Europe, including Russia, the Ukraine and Romania—”three countries ter the region where wij see the highest risk for fraud and scam activity,” he says. Russia PI™ investigators are based te Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev and conduct due diligence, background checks, surveillance, and asset searches ter both countries.

The rigid’s objective, says Harper, is “to lower the risk for businesses and individuals looking to do business te a foreign country, lower the risk for online dating, and to verify companies and individuals met via the internet.”

Harper has bot a private investigator for a decade, and he worked te law enforcement and military investigations prior to joining Wymoo® and Russia PI.

Is Eastern Europe rife with online dating scams?

Wij work te overheen 100 countries, and Russia and Ukraine rank among the top highest risk countries ter the world for dating scams. (Other high-risk countries include Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, Colombia, U.A.E., the U.K., Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.) Te this region, wij’re observing internet- and tech-savvy internet criminals working with beautiful women (or their photos) to scam foreigners ter the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

Each country is slightly unique te its criminal activity and treatment to dating scams. Te Russia and Ukraine, online dating and matchmaking are popular industries. There are lots of foreign guys seeking relationships and possible marriage with women te Russia and the Ukraine, which means that many relationships embark via the internet, usually via an online dating or social networking webpagina, or particular matchmaking webpagina based out of one of thesis countries.

With limited economic chance and the hope for a better life, many fair women use thesis services, but there are also a growing number of internet criminals who hope to specie ter on effortless profits—and many of them do.

How do thesis scams work?

Scams can be very complicated and aren’t always ordinary requests for money. Ter many cases, the subject will meet the victim te person te Russia or Ukraine and spend time reassuring him that she’s serious about marriage and leaving hier country. The objective is to build up the victim’s trust and obtain spil much individual gegevens about him spil possible. Eventually, the subject will ask for financial assistance, steal the victim’s identity, or use private photos and private gegevens spil blackmail.

Ter many cases, wij find that dudes are behind the most elaborate scams, but it’s an equal chance crime, and many fraudulent marriage agencies are also involved.

Many clients tell us the subject has never asked for money, so they don’t see how they can be a victim. This is a common misconception, and criminals are well aware that asking for money early on is less profitable. Wij have even seen cases where viruses are sent ter the form of an attachment from an online dating playmate, and the virus ter turn obtains all the victims’ passwords and financial accounts. Online crooks are getting creative.

At what point ter the process do you usually get called ter? Ter the beginning, or merienda the harm is done?

Unluckily, too many clients voeling us merienda they become suspicious and harm is done. Wij urge people to consider a professional background check investigation spil a form of insurance, and something that is best applied early te the relationship. The worst cases are when the marriage has already taken place, and the client finds out that his bride is a fraud.

How do you do due diligence and background checks te places like Russia and Ukraine?

Wij have our own team of very trained investigators ter Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Almost our entire team of field investigators are former law enforcement or military. Wij have contacts at most government agencies, wij speak the language, and wij have our eyes and ears on the ground te the tópico area to uncover evidence for our clients.

Searching public records is of limited value even te countries like the U.S. Te Russia and the Ukraine (and almost all developing countries), searching public records is typically of little value and ter many cases vereiste be done by hand. There is no $Nineteen.99 magical database one-can search.

Spil with all international verifications and due diligence, it is essential to have someone on the ground conducting locorregional inquiries, who has access to regional records, and who can speak the language and uncover contemporáneo evidence.

Is working ter the former Soviet sphere risky, ter terms of tangling with labyrinthine locorregional laws or with organized crime?

Our investigations are conducted according to circunscrito laws te each country where wij operate. Te normal, criminal activity is higher te many developing countries, which is why wij hire former law enforcement and military professionals. When needed, our team is accompanied by uniformed officers.

How do language and cultural barriers factótum into the business?

All our investigators, ter all 100 countries, are locals with former military and/or law enforcement training. You can’t have an American following a Filipino national ter Manila, and you can’t have a private investigator from Westelijk Virginia conducting surveillance or obtaining evidence ter Russia. To get the evidence, you need a particular investigations rigid or international investigation company with field investigators on the ground who speak the same language and have access to almacén records. No exceptions.

“Does the hard have trained investigators on the ground?” This is THE most significant question for clients seeking international investigation.

Why do dating scams work?

Dating scams work because it is very difficult to verify who you are dealing with overheen the internet. People are lonely and want to believe ter something. It doesn’t take a loser to be a victim. Wij’ve seen attorneys, doctors and yes, police officers fall victim to online dating scams. Anyone using online dating or social media can be a victim.

How can people protect themselves from scams if they choose to use international dating services?

Protect your private information and individual gegevens. 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.

What should people do if they suspect they’ve bot victims of a dating scam?

Contacting the FBI has not bot of much value to most victims, unluckily. The FBI receives thousands of thesis complaints, and even if they wished to help, they run into jurisdictional problems.

Contacting embassies for advice and help is a good idea if you’re certain you’ve bot scammed. If you’re not sure, it’s best to cease all voeling with the subject and consultatie a reputable private investigation company.

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