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Old 05-21-2019, 06:16 AM
603 posts, read 204,254 times
Reputation: 1827


I agree with others that this sounds very much like a scam. The suggestions to do a little online sleuthing are great, but I doubt you have enough information from your one conversation to get real information.

The "my husband is worried" approach seems juvenile. I would go in saying that I hope, for his sake, that this is all on the up-and-up but that there are a number of signs that make you worry about its legitimacy.

And then, I'm just throwing this out there because I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it in person. I had a coworker who absolutely got a "mail order Russian bride." He was physically disabled and went through a service to go overseas and find a lovely woman half his age. She came to the US, married an IT guy with serious cash, and got a low-stress job at a flower shop, and he got a hot wife. While it wasn't true love, it was absolutely a marriage of mutual convenience (i.e., both were clearly using each other, and they were cool with that). Last I heard, they had been married for over 12 years. So...?
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:06 AM
Location: Phoenix-Valley of the Sun
2,697 posts, read 1,498,833 times
Reputation: 3330
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
Yep. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. If you tell him it looks like a scam and he doesn't believe you, you've done what you can, and from there you'll have to let him figure it out on his own.


Do the right thing and express your concern. If John doesn't believe you, then at least you did your "job."
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:09 AM
Location: Chicagoland
5,655 posts, read 8,664,295 times
Reputation: 6768
Originally Posted by Zoisite View Post
Sorry OP, but John's entire story as told by you here sounds made up to me rather than a scam. I think there are far too many holes in it even for it to be a real person doing a real scam. Or else you haven't told us everything that he told you. Did he show you any pictures of places and sights to see from his trip to Kiev? Are you sure he actually went to Kiev, or is it possible the trip was just something else he made up?

As it is, everything is hearsay about hearsay with far too many excuses and evasions, and I don't believe the woman he told you about exists, I think she's a figment of his imagination. You haven't offered any proof that you know for a fact that he actually went to Kiev. The picture of her that he showed you could be a picture of anybody, even a picture that he took from internet. He sounds confused about visas.

It sounds like the kind of obscure, disconnected story that so many doddering old men who are becoming senile will make up when they're becoming delusional and confused about the difference between reality and non-reality with the onset of geriatric senility. That may also explain his late in life divorce from his wife of 40 years, the guy may have gone off the deep end on her and become too much for her to deal with and she kicked him out. They might not even really be divorced, that might be another lie.

I could be wrong of course, and obviously your intentions are that you have his best interests at heart but you need to be careful and on your guard if you're going to be a do-gooder and try to do an intervention on somebody that you apparently don't really know very well and haven't seen anything of in the past several years.

If it turns out that he's going senile and this is just a fantasy that he made up and convinced himself that it's real and then feels like he's getting backed into a corner by you and have the lies and confusions revealed because you are trying to be "helpful" he could go off the deep end on you too. And that could be dangerous if he suddenly accuses you of meddling in his affairs and becomes violently paranoid and offensive towards you for making him feel even more confused and exposing his vulnerability and frailty of mind.

I think before you convince your own self and then try to convince him too that he is being scammed that it's important for you to first determine if he really is in his own right mind or not. You need more answers to many more questions and you need to be particularly gentle and subtle about connecting all the dots without sounding as though you are being judgemental or making accusations and making him feel like a fool and a liar.

It could be that what he really needs is psychiatric intervention, not scammer intervention. If he needs psychiatric intervention instead, then trying to intercede because of a 'suspected' scam could cause him to become even more confused and could cause a worse mental break down. Please be careful that you don't do or say something to tip the scales for him and cause more harm than good, and worse mental health problems than what he already has.

Wow... thank you for the response. This is an interesting angle. I hadn’t thought of this. He only showed the one model picture of the woman and had no pictures of Kiev or Ukraine. Just some vague mention of a beautiful village on the Black Sea and speaking Ukrainian, but no real specifics and the story was pretty disconnected.

I thought it was because we were in a loud, crowded restaurant and didn’t have time for the whole story, but I’m reevaluating things now... I do think there is a possibility this is a fantasy. He didn’t sound/look delusional, but I don’t know. I did not express any doubt in his story, so maybe I’ll keep it that way but try to get more details when we meet. I appreciate you bringing this possibility to my attention. I will approach it differently because of the possibility it is not real...

Last edited by GoCUBS1; 05-21-2019 at 07:22 AM..
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:25 AM
Location: NJ
10,688 posts, read 21,356,094 times
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Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
I’m not sure if this is the correct forum for this, but I could use some advice...

Last night, my family/friends and I attended a dinner/concert with an acquaintance (let’s call him John). John is a retired musician (in his early-mid 70’s I think). I had met John through my kids’ music program about ten years ago, but had not seen him in a few years. I ran into John at an event a few weeks ago and asked him to the concert.

At dinner, John proceeded to tell us that “a lot has changed in his life.” He divorced his wife of 40 years and is estranged from her and his adult stepchildren. He joined a dating site for professionals (don’t know which one) and met a 30 y.o. Ukrainian professional ballet dancer.

John then took out his phone to show us what looked like a professional model picture of his young, hot, and beautiful Ukrainian girlfriend who he said was the love of his life. He said Ukrainian women “see men differently and look at the character and heart of a man.”

Needless to say, red flags went up. I think John is losing it.

John explained that “Olga” worked long hours as a professional ballerina to raise her daughter and that she was coming to America in August to marry him. He said she was working very hard on her English lessons and also on the travel Visa process, which “was very complicated.” I so wanted to ask him how much $ he had sent her, but I did not want to embarrass him at the table.

John also traveled to Kiev to meet Olga but he was very vague on his activities with her and states she “works a lot,” which makes me suspect he never even met her in Kiev. Also, he states that technology is “so bad in Ukraine it often takes 30 minutes for her to get/respond to his messages.” I suspect that time delay is due to the scammers cut/paste process...

Frankly, everyone at the table was embarrassed and didn’t really know what to say to John. I talked to my friends/family afterwards and some thought it was comical and did not see the risk, others thought it was a real woman trying to immigrate to the U.S....

However, I believe it is not a Ukrainian woman at all, but some guy behind a keyboard trying to gain access to John’s credit/bank account... I have a feeling John has already paid for “English lessons and Visa applications” and it will only get worse. And John is not a rich man, he is a retired musician on a fixed income...

I’m really worried about John and trying to figure out how to approach it, as I don’t know John very well but see that he is emotionally vulnerable and I feel sad for him. I also don’t think he has many friends/family so I cannot reach out to them.

I was going to call him today and tell him it’s a scam over the phone, but I fear he will refuse to believe me and then shut me out. I thought about asking him out for coffee to warn him, but again I fear he will not believe me as he seems very emotionally invested in this “woman.”

I also thought about calling a third party, like the local police or maybe a senior support group that can maybe help him address this.

How should I go about warning John, a guy I don’t really know that well, and show him he is a victim of a romance scam, without completely alienating him?
About the technology in Ukraine being bad, I doubt that's right. I watch 90 day fiance, people in the poorest places have cell phones with decent reception to talk to their American fiance. I suggest going to the Europe section to make a post asking if anyone has experience with cell service and internet there in case she's using a computer or tablet.

Would you happen to know how they're communicating? Is it on facebook, another app or actual texting? My cousin in Hungary has no issues speaking to me via email or facebook messenger. I set up the world clock on my tablet so that it tells me the time there since I can never remember how much the time difference is.

You've gotten a lot of great advice. I think what I would 1st start talking about would be if he's ever video chatted with her or seen her in person. If not, that's the biggest red flag. You can google to get some links that you can show him about people being scammed like this.

I agree with the suggestion that he pays things directly like to where she's supposedly learning English. I agree with getting the name of the ballet company and checking out if she's known there.

Also, there's a TV show called Catfish that he should be able to find episodes online to watch. That may help him see the typical scam.

Good luck, let us know how you make out.

Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Thank you for this advice, and the specific questions to ask to gently help “open his eyes”... I agree I’m going to go all in on this.

I’m not overly religious, but I believe there’s a reason we randomly crossed paths again and he told me all of this. I think he needs somebody to intervene for him, and for whatever reason, I’m that person. Maybe deep down he even wants my help with this? When he left, he pointedly told me he’d really like to get together more. He’s lonely. During his professional years, he brought so much joy to people through music and was very selfless with sharing his talents with others. I think it is the right thing for me to help him through this now.
I agree. I believe we come into people's lives for a reason. You meeting up with him was to help him with this.

Originally Posted by Lieneke View Post
I think your only option is to go all-in and be there every step of the way. If he's sending money for English lessons, ask questions about the name of the language school, find out whether he gets a tax receipt after paying the tuition to the institution. If she claims that the lessons are private, he needs to insist that he wants only the best for her, and he will directly pay the language school of her choice. There are a lot of questions that can be asked here.

Everyone has a cell phone, including Ukrainian ballerinas. Suggest that you'd love to meet her, and if the only option is long distance, get her on the phone and he can introduce you using speaker phone. If he claims they can't talk on the phone due to technology issues, ask how she manages her ballet schedule without a phone? He can call her at the language school, the ballet school or the theatre.

If she's a real ballerina, she's in a ballet company. Ask for the name of it. What is she performing, where is it? Track that down and confirm that the name your friend has been given is a ballerina and that the ballerina is indeed communicating with him.

Gently ask questions until he figures it out himself. Otherwise, he's going to be swindled out of everything he owns.
Great points. Hopefully it will be what gets to the bottom of this.

Last edited by Roselvr; 05-21-2019 at 07:57 AM..
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:43 AM
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
4,429 posts, read 4,292,113 times
Reputation: 5220
I have someone trying to scam me as I write this. I'm totally aware of how to spot these things. This "woman" writes all this flowery BS about building a future together without even meeting me. I mean, these people really go after desperate men, which I am not one. Its really funny when you call them out on it and they get all defensive. I told this one that no American woman writes crap like this, especially before meeting in person. I'm trying to figure out their angle if its not money. Its not like I'm giving out personal info.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:14 AM
5,392 posts, read 6,534,039 times
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Perhaps you can contact your local police department either their internet crimes division or health and welfare checks department.

meet with him and listen if you feel called to do so. say gee Tom, this doesn't sound right to me. Are you sure? but i am not sure this will amount to much.

but what more can you do as a very casual friend?

other option is to contact his ex family and ask them. tell them your concern and you are unsure how or if to proceed.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:08 AM
Location: The sleepy part of New York City
1,953 posts, read 1,206,352 times
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Is her photo on this website?

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Old 05-21-2019, 09:28 AM
6,313 posts, read 5,053,602 times
Reputation: 12820
I have an female acquaintance that is doing the same thing

She's on her third catfish i believe. She won't believe us when we tell her its a scam

I managed to get a picture one sent to her and run it through TinEye. It came up as another person. They just use pictures of good looking people

I told her and she said - thanks. And that was all

She supposedly went to see one a few weeks ago. The trip lasted all of 2 days - so she said. The guys mother died so she came back.

I don't think she went at all. She just hid out for a few days to pretend she was with him so we and her co-workers would leave her alone.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:11 AM
10,511 posts, read 8,431,600 times
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I have friends in Ukraine, plus a couple of young relatives who joined our family via adoption from Ukraine. Because of them, I continue to advocate for Ukrainian (and other) orphans in "the system".

As for Internet/phone connections, if this young woman is in Kyiv, there should be no issues. Ditto for other Ukrainian cities - I've even Skyped with a friend in Ukraine, with no difficulty. If she is in rural Ukraine, or in the part of Eastern Ukraine occupied by separatists and Russians (unlikely she would go there), problems might be expected - but not in the larger cities. I've also received phone calls from Kyiv which sounded just like domestic calls. No issues at all with email, or posting comments on blogs or other sites connected with my friends in Ukraine.

But here's a suggestion: see if you can find out if this woman claims to volunteer in an orphanage.

Whenever I look at a site dealing with orphanages in Ukraine, I very frequently also get unsolicited and unwanted ads for young Ukrainian women wanting to meet nice American men, complete with photos and brief biographical sketches. Nine times out of ten, these women claim to volunteer in orphanages. If the targeted men don't know much about the orphanage system in Ukraine, this is designed to make the women look potentially maternal, kind and caring and charitable.

On the other hand, there are many decent young women who genuinely are desperate to leave Ukraine - many of these women, or more accurately girls, are young orphanage graduates themselves, with few resources of any kind. But these young women are not likely to be scammers, at least not to the same degree as the woman your friend has supposedly encountered.

"She" may not be a woman at all, of course, just someone who recognizes the vulnerability of men like your friend and deliberately takes advantage of it.

Another point - if this woman is a ballerina, her name should be found elsewhere online, along with the name of her ballet company and perhaps a listing of ballets in which she has performed. There should be additional photos of her connected with her ballet profession online.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: How long was your friend in Ukraine? The Black Sea is quite a distance from Kyiv, and the border east of Occupied Crimea is heavily industrial and regularly attacked by Russia. Not exactly a place for a idyllic weekend at the beach. Ask him for more details about this little seaside resort and charming village, and what cities are close to it and how he traveled there from Kyiv (by train would be the most convincing reply). It may be east of the Crimean Peninsula and still peaceful and charming - but it sounds dubious to me.

Good luck to you - and to your friend.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:33 AM
10,511 posts, read 8,431,600 times
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The National Ballet of Ukraine, based in Kyiv, had a big US tour in 2018. If this "ballerina" belongs to this very respectable troupe, was she part of this tour?

Ask your friend if he has become interested in Ukrainian ballet as a result of his online connection with this woman - tell him there is a LOT online, and all he needs to do is search for "ballet Ukraine" to bring up lots of websites and other interesting things. If this is presented positively, as in "I expect you already have done this, but what you told me got me interested, and wow, I learned so much about how significant ballet is in Ukraine just by entering "ballet Ukraine", and if you haven't already done the same thing, I wanted to make sure you knew about it".
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