REPRINTED here with the permission of the translator.
- the most popular joke on the recently held
in Yoshkar Ola comedy stage show. This year, the jokes about scammers are very popular. Students are drumming and singing about the boy who
loved money very much, and another boy marches across the scene
with a poster
"I love Western Union. "
The audience laughs hard,
everybody understands. Because for the Yoshkar Ola's students the
question "what does scammer mean" is not an issue, everyone is
familiar with it, everyone knows what it means.
"Hello, my name Elena. I read about you in your profile. You are
very interesting to me. I want to get aquatinted with you. Write
me, I shall wait". All customers of the English dating sites
periodically get such messages. And very soon any interested
American, Canadian, British or a citizen of any other country
learns that far away, in a Russian suburb lives Lena, who has dreamt about him all her life. Then our "prince on the white horse" learns that it is love, and it was sent to him by God. And maybe (why not believe in destiny?) a gullible foreigner will send to a Russian princess a couple of thousand dollars on a ticket to be with him the rest of their lives together. In the end, he will learn that the girl "Lena" is actually a "fat Boris", but chances are, he will still hate the heartless Russian women.
You will not find any modern Russian dictionary giving the
explanation of the word "scammer", except for maybe English-Russian
dictionary. In English, word "scam" means fraud, but in Russian it
has a narrower meaning: the fraud on the Internet dating websites.
A scammer, respectively, is the same "fat Boris" who pretends
to be a girl, starts an Internet romance, and then requests money.
The scamming in Russian has another, more colorful and patriotic
name: "to take the riches". Indeed, why not "take the riches",
make them share their money. This even sounds like a fair deal, the
weak takes from strong, poor from rich. This should calm down the
conscience of scammers, as we were told, they don't sleep good.
From all types of online fraud, scamming stands out because it is
the easiest one to put on the conveyor. It is the real production
process, where everything is divided into stages. To minimize the
time and effort, the whole process has been systemized long time ago. In the early stages, thinking is not necessary, you simply need to work hard. Usually, scammer receives his first money after two months, this time frame should allow acquaintance, friendship, love and the desire to meet in person, unfortunately unrealistic. After establishing another faceless mailbox like ElenochkaForYou@....ru or Natasha547@....ru and registration on the dating sites, starts the most boring part for scammers - "zakidka". This is exactly what the above-mentioned comedy show meant
On the dating sites scammers start with looking for the suitable
candidates for scam. First, they select the country (usually USA),
then the region or state, and make sure they do not interfere with
the colleague, so they don't pick the same victims. The main
parameters: male; between the ages of 27 to 50 years; race - all,
except blacks (the scammers say that blacks will most likely take
you, instead of you taking them). All letters, including the first
introductory ones, are pre-written long time ago, and you don't
have to think about anything, just do:
and the letter are sent. "After the overnight monotony
work doing you become totally dumb and tired" -
shares his story Andrei, who will soon have to do it for several
nights in a row, "this is the most boring work, the most
interesting part comes later".
But the truth is, the further it goes, more sad it gets. With
each new template and each new photo it involves you more and
more. After the fourth template half of the riches is gone: some
don't like the girl, some are not looking for anything serious, but
most are simply afraid to deal with Russia. At the end, the most
desperate and naive remain. Or maybe it is more pleasant to say
"stupid"? Stupid and rich - this way you don't feel a pity for
them. "I simply don't get it, how can they meet somebody on the
Internet and except anything?", says Andrei, although he is
scamming for more than a year, he still doesn't understand this.
Those few foreigners who really want to find their love online, in
the approximately seventh letter learn that they have found it,
although they themselves are really the ones who have been found by
scammers. Scammers proclaim their love, and do it naturally and
fast (because their conveyor cannot wait). Next, depending on the
reaction, "the girl" immediately or little bit later requests money
for a visa, tickets, or both. "Sure, I am sorry for them", says
Andrei, but refuses to talk more on the subject.
"This month I earned 15 thousand rubles, and two months ago only
four" - Kolya believes that scamming is a real work, and for the
provincial student it is a large amount of money. His office pays
to scammers 20% from received money, in many other offices they pay
only 15%. "We used to have a guy in our office, to whom one
American during three months sent more than twelve thousand
dollars". According to Kolya, how much you earn, half depends on
the diligence and half on luck. But not everyone can force the
American lover to send more and more - you need a good fantasy. You
have to invent why his sweetheart cannot fly to him: she is being
robbed in the subway, her mother is sick, she is accused of hiding
taxes and put in prison, and he has to send money for a bail. "Very popular is a story that she accidentally broke the expensive
antique vase in a museum and should pay back 3000$", laughs
Just like love, the desire to send more and more money have to be
develop. To begin with, a foreigner is asked to send only $300 for
visa. If he sends them, later it will be harder for him to reject
the idea that his princess will fly to him, but will be much easier
to send more money, because the barrier of mistrust has been broken
already. Next, the amount of $1,400 for a ticket. The development
of events is determined by a scammer's skills to brainwash. There
are many semi-legends which circulate among scammers, how someone
took one American for 40 thousand dollars in one month, that
another American robbed his own company to get the money, and a
really crazy one got heavily in debt, got fired from work,
refinanced his house and sold his kidney for the non-existent
sweetheart. Indeed some people still have faith in "the humble
Russian girl Lena", which turns into obsession, and they are ready
to go bankrupt for her: this is a big luck for scammers and they live off it.
Who is this fatal girl? The whole point is that this girl does not
exist, she is created by the joint efforts of a scammer and a victim who sets the direction. While similarities do exist: she is usually between 25 and 30 years old, beautiful and smart, looking for a serious relationship. Men from Russia don't suit her because they are rude and drink too much. She believes in God and loves the most popular movies and music, uses a dating site for the first time, and always uses the Internet cafes. "It is very important that the girl looks natural, so they believe in it. Not a supermodel, but good-looking", explains Kolya. Almost all
photos are stolen from the Internet, so the real girls are
completely unaware that they indirectly help deceive foreigners. The site womenrussia.com has a big collection of Russian women gathered from cheated men from all over the world, the so-called "black list". Sometimes there might be very unexpected picture. The real girl Elvira accidentally discovered her photographs and personal data there: "one friend of mine wanted to prove me how much scamming is developed in Russia, and entered my data, turned out that I was on all scamlists for a long time". Most photos are simply stolen by scammers from the girls' personal pages and blogs, and if you check, the "black lists" are also full with pictures of Alsu, Valeria and many other Russian celebrities.
According to the old-time scammers there are almost 300 offices in
Yoshkar Ola (other estimates give the number of 500). Each office
has five working scammers, and there are also girls who pick up
money. Of course, there is no statistics, and the situation is
estimated by eye, but if it is true, every 100th resident of
Yoshkar Ola is a scammer. And if we take into account that almost
all scammers are students, and usually guys rather than girls, the
typical scammer is easy recognizable. In Yoshkar Ola, the capital of Mari El and concurrently "the capital of Russian scammers", all
scammers recognize each other. "Yes, it is true, our city is the
capital of scammers", with some pride says Andrei, he recently got
a transfer of $1,000, and is in a good mood today, "other cities
has some scammers too, but we have more. There are so many
scammers in our city that is almost a legitimate business."
"I will rent my apartment to scammers", says the elderly lady Olga
Mihailovna, housewife, "they are nice guys and always pay good rent". "In the office where I used to work, if we earned 20,000 dollars per month, the owners would pay us bonus, but some offices may earn 30,000 dollars or more per month" says Andrei. Good office earns about 15,000 dollars per month. Accordingly, the annual income of an office is about 200,000 dollars. And if it is true that Yoshkar Ola has 300 offices the annual income of Yoshkar Ola is sixty million dollars.
Nevertheless, scamming never became the official national business of
Yoshkar Ola. The authorities recently closed several offices: they
turned off the lights in the entire house, and when scammers got
out to see what's going on (they need electricity to work!), cops
broke into the apartments, arrested everybody and sealed the
apartments. After that, the city became quiet for some time. Sure,
during this period of time many foreigners wondered why their
"love" doesn't write to them. But just two weeks later everybody
returned back to their offices. There is enough work for both: scammers scamming, and law enforcement agencies catch them
red handed from time to time.