BEWARE OF SENDING MONEY OVERSEAS TO A PEN-FRIEND OR PROSPECTIVE MARRIAGE PARTNER TO VISIT AUSTRALIA TO FURTHER A RELATIONSHIP BEGUN OVER THE INTERNET.
Several Australian citizens have been defrauded by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes purportedly operating mainly from Russia. These large-scale, well-organised scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely.
The scammers often make use of what appear to be Australian Government email addresses to send fraudulent emails to the Australian party, informing them that the friend or prospective marriage partner has been granted a visa to visit Australia to further the relationship. The message may include fake details of a non-existent visa.
The Australian Government has notified the Government of Russia about its concern over this matter BUT there is little the Australian Government can do to assist citizens who fall victim to the individuals and agencies behind these schemes.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Treat with caution any request to forward money. We understand that individuals have been asked to provide funding for airline tickets, visas, hospitalisation and excessive customs duty.
Verify the authenticity of an e-mail message purportedly from the Australian Embassy in Moscow advising you of visa details relating to your friend or prospective spouse. Unless you have been formally authorised to receive such information, the message is likely to be a fake. You can verify its authenticity by sending a new message to www.border.gov.au/FormsAndDocuments/Pages/Europe.aspx explaining the situation and asking for verification that the details did indeed come from that office. Do not simply “forward” or “reply” to the message sent to you since it may go back to the scammers rather than to the DIBP office.
Seek authoritative information about Australia’s visa requirements, procedures and costs through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website www.border.gov.au or (for the cost of a local call) through the 24-hour national telephone service inquiry line on 131881. Information can also be found on the DFAT web-site at www.russia.embassy.gov.au.
You may wish to conduct some checks on your own, for example go to the www.Google.com, type the person’s name or even the e-mail address in a search box and see whether the name is listed on any web-site.
If you wish to proceed in assisting someone’s travel to Australia, consider prepaying for airline tickets directly with the carrier.
- You can never be sure of the true identity, including age, gender or nationality, of an internet correspondent
- Once money has been advanced, the Australian Government has no legal power to assist in its retrieval.
- The recovery of funds is a private legal matter and the onus for recovery is on the individual.
- The Australian Government can assist only by providing the names of in-country legal representatives.
- As with other types of scams, travel to the country in question in order to "sort things out" can be dangerous. It is not advisable.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF A FINANCIAL SCAM
The Australian Federal Polices advises you to report the matter to your State/ Territory Police Services and request that your report be forwarded to INTERPOL. In order to enable the Australian Embassy to address the problem to the local authorities please provide us with the following information:
a. Name, date of birth, place of birth of the woman you were corresponding with
b. Any contacting details given (address, e-mail, telephone etc)
c. How did you meet on-line (which site/chat room?)
d. How long were you in correspondence with the woman before she asked for money for the first time?
e. How did you send the money? If through a money transfer agent (eg Western Union) which office did you send it to and where?
f. How much money have you sent in total?
The Embassy also encourages you to report the matter to the Russian Embassy in Canberra at the following address:
The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canberra, Australia
78 Canberra Avenue
Griffith ACT 2603
Phone :(02) 6295 9033
Consular Section Phone :(02) 6295 9474
FAX :(02) 6295 1874
Consulate General in Sydney, Australia
7-9 Fullerton Street, Woollahra, NSW 2025
(8-10-612) 9326-1866, 9326-1702
Department of Immigration and Border Protection at www.border.gov.au
You may also wish to visit or contribute information to the private web-sites such as www.agencyscams.com or www.womenrussia.com. However, please note that the Australian Government is not associated or affiliated with this site and does not control or endorse the content or accuracy of the information contained on the site.