Russian bride scam turns romantics into money mules

Russian bride scam turns romantics into money mules

Summary: Queensland police are warning of a rapidly growing type of fraud that uses Russian brides and dating Web sites to con victims into becoming money launderers and drug mules.

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Queensland police are warning of a rapidly growing type of fraud that uses Russian brides and dating Web sites to con victims into becoming money launderers and drug mules.

In an evolution of the infamous Nigerian scam, criminals are preying on people registered on dating sites, according to Brian Hay, operations commander of the fraud and corporate crimes group at the Queensland Police.

"We see a great deal of energy being placed into victimising online dating processes. Not only could [victims] lose their savings, assets and possessions, they lose their self-esteem, get a broken heart and sometimes require medication.

"In addition to that, we know that romance scam victims have been set up to become mules to transport heroin into Australia," said Hay during a special presentation at the AusCERT 2008 security conference today.

Graham Ingram, general manager of AusCERT, explained that victims have been fooled into laundering money because they believe they are doing a favour for someone they think is a prospective partner, who they met on a dating Web site.

"We have seen cases where the Russian bride has a friend in Melbourne or WA and her friend wants the bride to come over to visit, and is willing to pay for the bride's ticket — but her friend can't transfer the money directly to Russia," said Ingram.

Ingram said that the Russian bride would then ask if the victim would mind if her Australian friend transferred a sizable amount of money into the victim's account. The victim would then transfer the cash to the Russian bride's account so she could buy her ticket to visit.

"People say, 'it can't be a fraud because they are not asking for my money', where in actual fact they are moving money from banking scams," added Ingram.

Hay said that to combat this type of fraud — and to continue the battle against the Nigerian 419 scam — AusCERT and the Queensland police will be hosting a forum tomorrow that will include representatives from "dating sites, online commerce, banking and government departments, to share information and develop strategies so we can further protect the communities of Australia".

Hay said that despite revelations last year that Queenslanders were being defrauded out of vast quantities of cash each month by Nigerian scammers, they are still losing up to AU$500,000 a month.

When asked how the rest of Australia fared, Hay said the news was grim: "It is a very sad state of affairs if you look across the nation. Typically [Queensland] represents approximately one-fifth [of total losses]. Massive losses have been felt in other states," he added.

Topics: Government AU, Government

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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6 comments
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  • Fraud is everywhere - so what?

    Everybody needs just not to act foolish. It's that simple. I'm in Russia now getting married in 2 weeks. All because I was smart enough to write a geniune woman. Had a lot of help at forum.fiance.com during my search.
    anonymous
  • Scrupulously Elaborated Fraud Scheme Taints Japanese Corporations

    "Simple" Society people may be shocked in another way as well...:

    It is known there are many hidden obstacles on the way to success in business. One chooses to overcome them legally going through thick and thin, others prefer to speculate upon a fraud scheme to tear out some money. For instance, the Russian Federation allows the latter to prosper and not to be accused of their heinous deeds since the Russian legislation is used selectively and corruption has become a norm of life.
    In our case, representatives of Toshiba Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation LT, Inc. ( ) (http://www.mclogi.com/) have been working successfully in partnership for many years in Russia. Nevertheless, they, Mr. Naohiro Baba and Mr. Koichiro Natsume, had decided to snatch a large sum using Mr. Vadim Danilov and his clients.
    Mr. Danilov was convinced by Mr. Baba that he had been registered as an official Toshiba trader – the Ninth Wave operating from the UK. In addition, Mr. Danilov was declared that NANA Eurooppa OY (NANA Europe Ltd.), and NANA Baltic OY were his sub-dealers, as well as all the companies which had been invited by Mr. Danilov to Toshiba's Conference also become his sub-dealers. So, Mr. Danilov worked hard believing that his current position is a real one and promising future promotions.
    To his luck, Mr. Danilov had uncovered the scheme while checking fake invoices and seeing asset misappropriation in bills. Moreover, the Ninth Wave (faked trader of Toshiba) was responsible for delivery and sale of broken appliances already covered by insurance company. As a result, he started finding out the data with Mr. Baba and Mr. Natsume but they preferred to fade away from Russia and kick back Mr. Danilov leaving him in debts.

    Nowadays, Mr. Danilov had been obliged to return “the funds received” from Toshiba Corporation. He has been struggling for his rights and compensation for material and moral damages for 33 months.
    anonymous
  • MCLogi scam & fraud in Russia

    Warning:
    Undercover Black Deeds in Japanese Corporations

    Japanese companies are famous for their high-quality service provided worldwide. Any partner of a Japanese company expects a discreet and trustworthy business way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as it seems.

    In our case, Japanese corporations’ representatives working in Russia and the CIS have elaborated an excellent fraud scheme including money-laundering, kickback clients and employees, asset misappropriation etc.

    The scheme runs as follows:

    1. Toshiba Corporation serving as a cover generally doesn’t sign official distribution contracts in Russia and the CIS. Russian nationals such as Mr. Vadim Danilov (Toshiba fake official trader) are hired by the corporation. In addition, all transactions are based on pledging Toshiba managers’ word of honor.

    2. “Official” supplier - NAC Trading Ltd. - delivering appliances to Media Markt Saturn, located in Moscow, doesn’t have any procuration from Toshiba Corporation.

    3. Defective appliances covered by an insurance company are sent to Russia from a warehouse Kouvola, Finland as new ones via a fake Toshiba trader.

    4. Toshiba Corporation issues invoices on official blanks in which written payment requisites of third parties (Nana Europe OY) responsible for payment transfers to Toshiba Corporation and MCLOGI (Mitsubishi Corporation LT, Inc.).

    5. It is strongly recommended by the Japanese companies to make all payments using off-shore banks since Toshiba prefers not to be responsible for anything if its Russian clients have any claims and complaints.

    6. So, there is a bundle: Toshiba Corporation (Supplier) represented by Mr. Natsume - MCLOGI (delivering service) represented by Mr. Baba - Nana Europe OY (Toshiba “agent” in Finland supplying appliances to Russia) represented by Mr. Ogawa - NAC Trading Ltd.

    (Nana Europe branch in Russia responsible for financial flows in Russia), at a final stage RCAS (a private company of Mr. Baba and Mr. Natsume) located in Estonia transfers the cleaned funds from off-shore banks to Toshiba and MCLOGI.

    So, it has been shown the Japanese corporations use fraud schemes and transactions to snatch large sums and frame up hired managers and Russian big companies.
    anonymous
  • Fight Scam in Ukraine

    Dear gentlemen,
    We totally agree with everything discussed on this web-site. And this is true, romance scam on the side of Russian and Ukrainian women has caused more than a few problems to western men lately. Unfortunately it's often difficult to spot a scammer as after going through tens of thousands of scammers' pix you may or may not find the lady you were talking to. Scammers tend to change the pictures they use quite often so at times if one photo was spotted and posted on the scammers' lists, the scammer already has 10 other pix on his file to use.

    What would be a wise thing to do other than looking through all these tens of thousands pix?

    We'd recommend you an individual approach to each lady you are corresponding with. Ask her for her passport data or some other document identifying her. If she doesn't send it - that's an immediate alert. If she does, you could still check on her Identity as so many scammers will send someone else's passport data or change some of the data so as to become "unidentifiable".

    We are a Ukrainian Antiscam Service that offers individual check up on people's personal infos. We can verify the passports and other documents of people you deal with and hence you can learn if the data sent to you is true or false. You can also know if all infos on the data you were provided by your Ukrainian contact are matching with one another and with the reality. Even a few changed figures on a passport serial number are an alert the person that sent you the data is not real.

    You can also check up on the person's previous criminal status, their family status, their past work back-ground and lots of other personal infos that can help you understand whether the person's telling you all the truth about themselves or hiding something from you.

    At times double-checking helps avoid bad problems. So don't hesitate to contact us if you have a suspicion about someone you got involved with via one of the dating agencies.
    We wish you every happiness and hope to be of help to you with achieving it.

    Sincerely,
    Ukrainian Antiscam Service
    http://www.antiscams.org/
    anonymous
  • Japanese Fraud is just a polite Scam

    On a rural road a state trooper pulled this farmer over and said: "Sir, do you realize your wife fell out of the car several miles back?"
    To which the farmer replied: "Thank God, I thought I had gone deaf!"
    anonymous
  • Russian Bride scam free search

    There is a large Australian site based in Queensland that presents Russian brides for marriage and offers "scam-free" search, the site is: www.ElenasModels.com and the scam-free service is their Individual Search (matchmaking).

    The simple rule is to never send money to anyone you met on the Internet, and you will never be scammed.

    I have learned it from Elena's Models and now that I use their site, I have no problem meeting genuine women.
    anonymous