International dating and marriage scams have mushroomed in recent years, helped by the popularity and global nature of the Internet. Criminals prey on lonely people seeking romance in their lives.
The most common type of dating and marriage scam is known as the Russian Brides scam. Scammers post photos of attractive Russian women -- many of these are of actresses or beauty-pageant winners -- to attract men. A man typically corresponds with or emails the woman, and after some time, she asks for money, possibly to cover a visa or travel expenses -- or even for a sick relative.
Sometimes men who think they are communicating with a beautiful woman are, in fact, liaising with a "marriage" agency. Many of these agencies originate from Russia or the Ukraine, but one widely reported scam was run from the U.S.
Immigrants, who are desperate to remain in countries such as the United Kingdom, fall prey to scammers who purport to act as "marriage fixers," supplying brides from countries such as Slovakia, say police. In the United Kingdom, police intercepted an international scam where Nigerians paid to marry fake European brides in order to remain in the country.