A bride scam is a form of romance scam - a confidence trick that aims to defraud potential grooms with the offer of a foreign bride. The basis of the confidence trick is to seek men from the western world who would like to marry a foreign woman and pretend to be willing to marry them. The woman (scammer) asks the man to send money, for example, for the purposes of purchasing an airline ticket or a visa they have no intention of buying. The relationship ends after requested money has been wired and received, sometimes after multiple transfers have been made.
The general term "bride scam" can also encompass other scams such as dating scams, sex scams, and bride order scams over the internet. Many men are victims of a bride scam before they even realize it. Many men are looking for cheap sex but end up falling in love with the women involved. Most of these women think marrying a tourist can be seen as hitting the jackpot. They think that these men will have money and solve all their problems. Many men have sent over a hundred letters to these women but they never heard back from them. Some men sent them money for a plane ticket and never heard from them again. Scammers contact their victims directly through their email. This contact is unsolicited, meaning this person will contact a person without previous contact. Scammers will send emails of photos of pretty young women. These photos will be revealing and sexy as the correspondence goes. Usually to enable a personal meeting they need a visa to travel and purchase ticket money is needed.
Many men turn to mail-order bride services. Before the internet, men traveled overseas to meet woman in the sex trade. The sex trade is one of the few opportunities available to poor, uneducated women who make every effort for financial progression. These women look for a profitable sexual transaction so they can gain a long-term relationship, marriage, migration, and escape poverty. The men believe that love will last forever which leads to marriage, family, and happiness.
The U.S. State Department often refers to bride scams as "Boris and Natasha" scams, when a lonely American man believes he has found a beautiful woman to marry except Natasha ends up being a Boris. Bride scams are a part of the rapidly growing criminal activity known as Cybercrime, which in 2007 and 2008 cost approximately US$8 billion worldwide. Currently laws are unable to properly deal with the various forms of Cybercrime that are facing contemporary law enforcement agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as Interpol are currently working to establish working relationships with other global organizations to help combat this recent trend.
Most of the current legislation in the United States surrounding international marriage brokers (IMBs) or Mail-order brides began in 1990 and was superseded multiple times, most recently in the 2005 International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA). This legislation was focused on protecting the women involved who are made vulnerable due to the multitude of circumstances surrounding their move to the United States. Furthermore, some parts of the current legislation in the U.S. may hurt the ability of men to protect themselves against fraud. IMBRA stipulates that, "IMBs may not disclose a recruit's personal information to a U.S. client until the recruit has reviewed any records retrieved and has returned a signed document in her primary language (no exceptions) consenting to the release of her information." The premise of this law may be to protect the women from domestic violence and exploitation and it probably does, the law does not provide inquiring men with enough protection. Currently, the only laws available to protect the rights of the men being targeted by bride scams are those concerning Cybercrime. The IMBRA did required the Attorney General to conduct a study on international marriage brokers, which sheds light on the women who use fraud to manipulate men with the promise of marriage before disappearing upon entry to the United States.
There are laws concerning computer fraud and they can be "separated into two categories: 1) crimes facilitated by a computer and 2) crimes where a computer or network is the target." Bride scam refers to the first category, "crimes facilitated by a computer," and is punishable according to U.S. law. U.S code number 18 U.S.C. § 1030. refers to Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers, and explicitly states, "Whoever with intent to extort from any person any money or other thing of value..." is punishable by law.
Nations and organizations of interest
Russia is where many of the contemporary fraud experts claim the prospective brides come from, and many of the anti-scam sites look to combat this particular form of bride scam. Additionally, many IMBs offer opportunities to marry women from impoverished regions all over the world including Russians, Asians, and Latinas.
With the lack of governmental involvement concerning bride scams, many unaffiliated websites have started to provide people with the "How to" when it comes to avoiding being scammed. Most of these sites include a list of "known russian scammers by name (photo, email etc)" as well as any photos which are known to have been used by scammers in the past. Some people have even turned to private investigators to help them determine whether or not the woman they are courting actually exist.
- Whats Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and sex tourism in the Dominican Republic by Denise Brennan April 23, 2009 pg.107
- Russian Bride Cyber Guide1999-2011
- Precautions about getting Mail-Order Brides by Eric Benac 1999
- Whats Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and sex tourism in the Dominican Republic by Denise Brennan April 23, 2009 pg.120
- Whats Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and sex tourism in the Dominican Republic by Denise Brennan April 23, 2009 pg.21
- Holguin, Jaime. 2009. "Beware Russian Web-Order Brides," CBS News, February 11. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/14/eveningnews/main688311.shtml. Date of Access: November 1, 2011
- Interpol. 2011. Cybercrime. URL:http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Cybercrime/Cybercrime Archived 2015-01-09 at the Wayback Machine. Date of Access: November 1, 2011.
- McGavran, Wolfgang. 2009. "Intended Consequences: Regulating Cyber Attacks." Tulane Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, 12(1) :259-76.
- Grant, Ashley D. 2005. "Forging Partnerships to Fight Cyber Crime." Speech Presented at the Merchant Risk Council, March 9, Las Vegas, Nevada.
- The Department of Justice. 2006. Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Public Law 109-162.
- Jackson, Suzanne H. 2006-2007. "Marriage of Convenience: International Marriage Brokers, 'Mail-Order Brides,' and Domestic Servitude." University of Toledo Law Review 38 :909.
- Jackson, Suzanne H. 2006-2007. "Marriage of Convenience: International Marriage Brokers, 'Mail-Order Brides,' and Domestic Servitude." University of Toledo Law Review 38 :895-922.
- CERT Coordination Center. 2004. How the FBI Investigates Computer Crime. Carnegie Mellon University. http://www.cert.org/tech_tips/FBI_investigates_crime.html. Date of Access: November 2, 2011
- United States Code. 2010. Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 47, §1030. Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/usc_sec_18_00001030----000-.html. Date of Access: November 5, 2011.
- Patrol. 2008-2011. "Russian Bride Scams or 'Boris and Natasha" Scams," Net Patrol. http://netpatrol.org/online-fraud-types_russian-bride-scams-or-boris-and-natasha-scams_386.html Archived 2012-04-20 at the Wayback Machine. Date of Access: November 2, 2011.
- Jackson, Suzanne H. 2006-2007. "Marriage of Convenience: International Marriage Brokers, 'Mail-Order Brides,' and Domestic Servitude." University of Toledo Law Review 38 :898.
- Holguin, Jaime. 2009. "Beware Russian Web-Order Brides," CBS News, February 11. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/14/eveningnews/main688311.shtml. Date of Access: November 1, 2011.