This is a sensitive subject for most, because it’s human nature to stand up for the one you love. But the world is a dark place and unfortunately, scams do happen. This post will go over some of the situations we’ve seen and how to recognize them, so you can avoid becoming a victim. Unfortunately, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you can be subject to some of these scams more often than others. The overwhelming majority of you reading this are probably worried for no reason, but why not put it to the test to put your fears to rest?
Why would anyone scam me?
Incentive 1: They could be scamming you for money.
This would be more common in online dating situations – especially if you got engaged before ever meeting in person.
The scammer might not even intend to follow through with the visa process, but leading you on, all online, with the intent to get as much money out of you as they can before pulling the plug.
Incentive 2: They could be using you for a visa or green card.
If you have a family of skeptics, perhaps you’ve had this concern brought up:
“What if he/she is just using you for a green card?”
Of course, if your love is real, this is a pretty offensive thought and probably upsetting to anyone questioned. But in rare cases, this could be true.
The least intelligent scammers might think once they come over on a fiance visa, they could just bail on the wedding and everything is hunkey dorey. “Ha ha. I’m here in the US, goodbye.”
In reality, when you bring someone in on one of these types of visas, or even via adjusting their status, their residency is still conditional upon your marriage. They’d have to live the life of an illegal immigrant if they went through all that trouble. So they couldn’t work legally or exit and re-enter the USA.
Otherwise, they’d have to stick with the fake marriage for several years to get the removal of conditions (which removes the condition of your marriage). Once the removal of conditions is granted, the alien spouse can essentially just divorce you and remain in the US legally. A pretty terrible thought right?
Red Flags That You’re Being Scammed For Money
#1. There always seems to be a financial need that pops up
They always tend to have a financial need and expect you to solve it. Be especially wary if you’re asked to send money via Western Union, and especially if it’s to Nigeria or Ghana, the world capital for 419 scams. Also, be wary if the name they’re asking you to send it to is something other than their own.
#2. Money is at the forefront of your conversations
They ask about things like your income and assets very early on. They always tend to talk about money like it’s the only thing that matters. They don’t show much interest in you as a person, or when they do it feels fake. Their mood changes for the worst when you change the subject from money.
#3. Excuses keep delaying meeting in person or on Skype
There’s always an excuse why they cannot Skype you or meet you in person. The stories could be elaborate, but the truth is, they don’t want you to see that the pictures they’ve sent you are not of them, and of someone they stole from online. Upload their photos to Tineye to see if the photos are posted somewhere else (stolen).
#4. They send you love letters they claim they wrote
One common practice of these scams is to plagiarize love letters and convince you that they’re head over heels for you. The scam is to flatter you to the point of vulnerability, then go in for the strike. Take a sentence from your love letter, go to Google and search for it with quotation marks around the phrase. This will show you every other instance this ‘love letter’ was used.
#5. They try to get your personal info
Be very wary of anyone digging into matters of your life that scammers would love to be in to. One scam is to find out personal, revealing secrets about you, then extort you for money later on. Until you meet in person, it’s best to be smart with this kind of thing.
#6. They are pushy about marriage early on
This isn’t necessarily a flawless tell-tale sign, what with cultural and religious factors playing a role, but if you are moving at a pace you’re not comfortable with, it could be. Nobody should be pressured into something as important as marriage.
#7. They know an awful lot about US immigration
If the person truly is in the relationship for you, the immigration process is merely a background detail. Sure, it’s a major detail, and some interest is to be expected. But if you start talking about the form I-130 or affidavit of support by your second Skype date, you may want to back the breadbasket up.
#8. They’ve tried to get to the US before
If your fiance has a long history of trying to get to the US, whether it be through a tourist visa, student visa, or other marriage based visa, it could be a sign of their true intentions. Use your gut, and ask questions.
#9. You keep catching them in lies
If your fiance is a perpetual liar, you probably have bigger problems. Don’t be blinded by exotic infatuation of a love story that could be too good to be true. Nobody is perfect, but a liar usually stays a liar.
#10. They show no interest in you as a person or your family
If the level of attraction and interest is lopsided in your favor, or they seem to avoid meaningful time or conversations, it could be a red flag. If they get moody when you want to be with them, or want them to spend time with your family, take that into account.
It is entirely possible that some of the items above could be the case with a legitimate relationship, but it’s important to be cautious if the deck seems to stack high. At the end of the day, you know your situation best, and nobody can make the call for you. You will need to make a personal decision whether or not you’re ready to move forward with your marriage.