To any newcomers who find this thread, via Google or whatever, PLEASE READ THIS!
SOME GENERAL INFO ABOUT RUSSIAN GIRLS AND RUSSIAN DATING SCAMMERS:
The vast majority of Russian dating scammers are men, mostly working in small gangs in or around Yoshkar Ola, in Mari El republic. It's virtually guaranteed that the girls in these scam pics aren't involved because the scammers steal them from the internet or pay unsuspecting friends for them, or buy and exchange them on scammer websites. (Once a scammer even admitted to stealing them to me). Most scammers are VERY lazy and looking for quick cash. They use email extractor programs to get your mail addresses, and form mails and spam programs on automatic reply, very often the BAT!, which can personalize small parts of each letter. They won't read your letters until after the money letter because they don't have time, ie because they're scamming, or trying to scam, as many guys as they can (economies of scale).....and also because they're semi-literate losers who can't speak much English anyway. IN OTHER WORDS, you can write any crap in your replies and they won't react, they're only interested when they're curious to know if you've taken the bait. The majority of Russian scammers nowadays also use proxy servers or forged IPs to hide their locations. A girl is only involved either occasionally to phone a guy up, especially when he's suspicious, or to pick up the loot at Western Union, with a false ID of course!
So....if several or more of the following criteria apply to your Boris (the beautiful Russian 'girl' that is supposedly writing to you), resist the temptation to help 'the poor girl' by sending her money. You're really writing to a sleazy guy sitting in a smoky room in Yoshkar Ola, with a bunch of other sleazy guys spamming indiscriminately on laptops .
# 'girl' writes to you first on a dating site...especially a free one (or an email appears out of nowhere in your mailbox). Real Russian girls are rarely so bold as to write to you first. (unless you're obviously very attractive or rich :))) They will often reply to your mails, but rarely take the initiative. It's the man who does the chasing in Russia. Plus if they're looking for a partner, they generally prefer him to be Russian speaking and live in Russia. Much more convenient!
# girl's much too young for you (or too good to be true/looks like a model/porno star)....although I have noticed a recent tendency for some scammers to use photos of slightly 'less attractive' girls as well.
# girl has some far-fetched excuses for you not visiting her in Russia (criminal city, not the Russian custom, terrorism, it's her dream to come to your country, etc). ALL BULLSHIT!! Actually, the normal way to meet a Russian girl is to visit her in her city first!
# scammers rarely have children, but most of the real Russian women I've ever met on the internet did (except for Moscow career girls). It's often the reason that they're looking for a partner.
# photos are too revealing (can't be a respectable girl). Respectability is very important to most Russian women (especially Moscow career girls). They're hardly likely to send a half-naked photo to a virtual stranger on the internet. Think with your brain!
# most of the pics are old and a little bit faded with a curiously grainy quality that soon becomes quite easy to recognise (overuse?). Again a scammer admitted to me that low-quality photos are a key factor in his scamming. I found this strange because a serious girl who's looking for a partner usually saves up and goes to a professional to have a studio set done (often corny ones posing with a chair etc), and/or borrows a digicam at least (dates should also be on the photos you receive). My fiancée did it. Russian girls aren't all that poor anymore, and if they seriously want to leave Russia, they know that posting cheap pics will only attract cheap guys.
# girl claims not to have a mobile phone. Very unlikely!!! fer f***'s sake.....do you know a single girl without a mobile phone? Even poor Russian girls can't do without one, they're much cheaper than in Europe and a megafon telephone card doesn't cost that much either. You should be able to call her whenever you want. On the other hand, not having a landline or a desktop/laptop is very common.
# very long rambling/ecstatic form letters with a strange format, punctation and layout written in scamlish. (world's worst Babelfish copy)
# writes long letters everyday in English. How does she have time to write those long letters if she's working? And if she doesn't have a job, how can she afford a computer + internet? Even Internet cafés are relatively expensive in Russia. Anyway, most Russians outside Moscow can hardly speak a word of English. What's the point of finding a girl you can't communicate with, at least on a basic level? + if she can't speak English, why does she have a non-cyrillic email account like gmail or yahoo? Most real Russians use mail.ru, yandex.ru or inbox.ru....though hotmail and yahoo are acceptable if she'll chat with you on messenger (preferably with a webcam).
# doesn't answer direct questions (sometimes factual mistakes in the letter). Her replies should be exactly that...replies...however short they are.
# falls in 'love' very quickly. Don't let your ego or loneliness pull the wool over your eyes. She doesn't know you. You could be an axe murderer for all she knows. Russian TV is full of documentaries about Russian girls who have emigrated and got murdered, abandoned, etcetc.
# uses a proxy server to hide his/her location, ie a SOCKS server / GPRS Internet. if you can't trace 'her' IP, it's 100% scam. THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO IS TRACE HER IP ADDRESS. In fact, that's the only thing you need to do really..
MOST IMPORTANT...if you get this far:
# she asks for money for a tourist 'visa' and/or maybe tickets, ignoring the fact that IT'S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR A SINGLE RUSSIAN GIRL TO GET A TOURIST VISA TO A WESTERN COUNTRY!
She can get a SPONSORED visa with your help, but then she needs a personal letter of invitation from you, a copy of your passport, a proof of your residence in your home country, a completed sponsor's application form (also from you)....not including the documents that she has to fill in herself. All of these she has to drop off at your national embassy in Moscow WITH PREPAID TICKETS and wait 10 working days. These are the rules for the Schengen countries...the USA and Canada are almost as complicated. Anyway, a normal tourist visa + travel costs + hotel rooms would set her back 2000+ US dollars for a trip to the US. She should be asking you for a lot of money! Why should it be so easy for a gorgeous sexy girl just to jump on a plane and fall into bed with you? Be realistic. In any case, no respectable Russian girl would ask directly for money, but might accept if you insisted.
NB...you should check your national embassy website in Moscow for visa prices and procedures.
There are a few scammers that are more patient and professional, who will take months before they scam you for money (though if you follow my tips, you should be able to spot them anyway). There are even a few real girls scamming, and professional gold-diggers (mostly in the Ukraine). One or two of them are very bold, are not even afraid to use their true identities. These scammers are harder to spot, and there is no easy way to identify them, all you can do is use your instincts and common sense.
But a ground rule is: if you are actually looking for a Russian wife/partner, you must be prepared to travel to Russia to meet her. You also need to behave generously towards her, after all you need to prove that you can support here (and her kids) if she migrates to your country. But if she turns out to be a professional gold-digger, which has never happened to me personally or anyone I know (but I know it does happen), you should try to be philosophical and treat it as an exotic trip to a foreign country, have fun anyway, and try not to waste too much money on her.
There are hundreds of perfectly nice Russian girls in Russia but you have to be prepared to go and get them. Chercher la femme. It worked for me.