Pen Pal Scams

Schemes, Scams, Frauds.

Home Up

www.crimes-of-persuasion.comSite Directory

Prison Pen Pal Frauds and Personal Ad Internet Marriage Scams

Singles in search of romance are increasingly turning to personal ads. But so are criminals while looking for an easy mark. Prisoners’ personal ads have proliferated in recent years, and while some prisoners may be looking for genuine contact with life outside their prison walls, many such ads are part of a sophisticated mail fraud scheme that misuses postal money orders to bilk consumers of their hard-earned savings.

If you begin to write letters to a prisoner who is attempting to cultivate you for his mail fraud scheme, he will slowly attempt to gain your trust and confidence. If you are a single woman, he may even send you love letters and handsome photos, and promise to marry you upon his release. Male prisoners posing as women try to lure men into the scheme as well.

While confessing his love for you, he will also admit that he is serving a prison term for a tax violation or other non-violent offense, unrelated to his own. Then he will say his prison term is almost up, and he’s looking forward to starting a new life together with you when he is freed.

Eventually, he will get around to asking you to cash one or more postal or money orders for him, claiming that he needs the money to pay attorney fees or court fines. Where does he get each high-value money order?  He will obtain them from an accomplice outside the prison who buys them in small denominations (often only $1) and then smuggle them inside the prison, where they are altered to reflect higher values.

When you assist your pen pal by cashing any such money order—and sometimes there are many of them totaling thousands of dollars—you are told to send the money to a "friend" of the prisoner, whom you’re told is helping with his legal defense. Of course, this friend is the outside accomplice. You will be told first to deposit the money orders in your personal bank account, for temporary "safe-keeping", and then to pay out the funds to the outside accomplice.

Shortly after sending the money, you will receive a cruel "Dear Jane or John" letter asking you to understand that your pen pal only did what he or she "had to do" to survive, and now that he’s out, the relationship is over. But he’s not out. He’s still in prison. And what’s even worse, he now has your money.

Since the U.S. Postal Service routinely compares all of its cashed money orders with the original receipts, all altered postal money orders will ultimately be discovered.

Under current law, the person who cashes, or deposits and then withdraws, an altered money order is responsible for its total value—in this case, the altered value. Therefore, shortly after you pay out the temporarily held funds from your bank account, your bank will notify you that you must pay the difference between the issued amount and the raised amount. For example, if you cash a $1 money order that has been altered to read $700, you will end up being charged $699 in addition to possible fraud charges.

Online Russian Marriage Fraud

04/21/04 - ( ) By cheating gullible foreigners hoping to marry Russian females, a man from Chelyabinsk became rich (his earnings were estimated up to $800,000).

The inventive 30-year old man from Chelyabinsk found the way to get some dollars from foreigners. No violence, people will be glad to give their money, and minimum risk: the victims live far from Russia, and they are unlikely to call the law enforcers in the Russian province.

"I live in Chelyabinsk - the city with a cold climate and bandits wandering around the streets. Russia is such a frightening country that I would be eager to come to you as a virgin and give birth to babies from you", wrote the mysterious "girl" from Chelyabinsk to dozens of e-mail addresses picked up in the Internet. There were different signatures of real women (the swindler"s friends or relatives). However, he did not post their real photos, but selected the pictures of the most beautiful Russian women from the Internet.

The swindler was smart, but too greedy, and his greediness let him down. He was writing too much - to 3,000 foreign men simultaneously.

The swindler"s message hit the target: men abroad responded to the desperate e-mail of the chaste Russian beauty. Long sentimental exchange of letters followed. Foreigners sent gifts to the girls" mail addresses, and the price of gifts grew as the long-awaited meeting was approaching. To meet the men, the girl asked them for money: first to repair the computer, then to purchase air tickets and pay for visa. Soon $500-1000 was received in Russia via Western Union. This was the end of the love story of the foreigner and the Russian girl. New e-mail messages were breaking hearts of new single men abroad.

This option of making money was working for 2 years. The swindler explained to the girls whose addresses he was using, that he was working on a new Internet software and received money and gifts as his salary. The girls trusted him, and in addition the man gave them 1,500-2,000 rubles per month for their receiving money orders and parcels for him. The swindler became rich, he purchased 3 vehicles and built a luxury house.

All of a sudden, in June 2001 a cheated Australian fiancé sent online message to the website of President Putin. The Australian asked the authorities to check if the girl paid taxes from her income, he did not know that there was big-scale fraud under the letters of "the woman from Chelyabinsk who mislead me about marriage during our correspondence". The President Administration passed the e-mail message to the police.

The swindler was not scared of the policemen coming to his place. He claimed his actions had not been a crime.

The policemen confiscated computer, hard currency, jewelry, perfume, toys, collection coins, video- and audiocassettes from the man. His computer database contained information on simultaneous correspondence with 3,000 men! The swindler did not write everybody, those who showed themselves either greedy or smart were not honored with his letters any more.

All the rest donated money to him. He had sponsors from Canada, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Australia, New Zealand and other countries all over the world. There were no men from the former USSR - the swindler was concerned that they could have reached him easily.

When the police was investigating the complaint of the Australian, a British timidly posted on the website of Chelyabinsk governor that he had been deprived of more than 1000 pound sterling in the same way.

Russian police had to write many letters abroad, and 9 foreign men agreed to testify against the swindler. According to Russian Criminal Code, he can be imprisoned from 5 to 10 years and have his property confiscated.

The swindler did not say he was sorry, and refused to return the money to foreign men. He probably considered himself a financial genius because he had started playing at international stock exchange online. His Swiss bank account allowed this, and also to become a fiancé himself and find a daughter of a millionaire as his bride.

Lonely-hearts scam on Internet results in couple's guilty pleas

Nonexistent Russian women were the bait


04/08/04 - (CA) A San Bernardino County man pleaded guilty yesterday to using the Internet to dupe more than 250 men into shelling out money for Russian wives and girlfriends who didn't exist.

Robert McCoy, 40, admitted in U.S. District Court in San Diego that he and his wife used the Internet for at least two years to pose as Russian women seeking companionship. The couple would strike up online romances with unsuspecting men and then ask for money to travel to the United States to meet them, according to his plea agreement filed in federal court.

In a separate guilty plea, his wife, Anna Grountovaia, admitted she persuaded four San Diego men to wire $1,850 each. The victims sent the money to a fictitious Russian dating agency, believing it would pay for the women's visas and travel expenses.

McCoy also solicited money from the victims by claiming the women needed $1,500 in cash to meet the requirements of a new U.S. Customs Service policy.

Authorities believe the scheme netted at least $1 million and may have involved other people in Russia or Ukraine.

McCoy faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his June 22 sentencing. Prosecutors, however, have agreed as part of Grountovaia's plea agreement to ask a federal judge to sentence her to only a year in prison.

Grountovaia is originally from Russia and could be deported as a result of her guilty plea. The couple, who have a 2-year-old child, remain married despite their legal troubles, their attorneys said.

U.S. officials began investigating the couple after a Baltimore man tipped off a London newspaper about the scheme.

Russian Bride Scams

Russian women Black List - photos and names of reported scammers and scam agencies.

Russian Bride Study

Oriental Thai Bride Scams Victims in the UK - article

Russian Dating Scams:

[ Home ] [Up]

Order a book

Crimes of Persuasionon

Home Page / Model Scams Index / © 2000-2017 /Disclaimer / Privacy Statement