The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

Published 05, Sep, 2013

Wayne Bristow, talking about online dating scams, says “be very careful what you wish for. No matter how much you want it to be true, it probably isn’t.”

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

I like to think that I’m a good judge of character, I always try to see the good in everyone;  if there is bad, I prefer to leave it to them to bring that part out. It gets a little tricky though when it’s someone online.

My niece met a young man from England about 11 years ago. There were people in the family who weren’t overjoyed about the relationship. She would share with me what was happening and I developed a belief that “hey this guy is alright”. Today he lives here in Canada, they have been married for over 10 years with two children …….and the family really likes the guy now.

About four years ago when I was still chatting online, I signed in to my account on this one site. Up in the corner of the page I noticed the “mail” button was flashing. I had made a connection. I wasn’t overly excited because up till now all the other connections went nowhere.

I opened the email and began to read it.

I found your profile on this site, you are so handsome, I want to talk to you, please email me back”.

I read it over and over, red flags were popping up like at the United Nations building. I’ve had these type of messages before, one from Uganda and one from Poland,. They were upfront right away. They wanted help to move to Canada where they could live as gay men. However they didn’t talk much about working here, just getting here.

Back to this story. Thn eguy went on to tell me that he was 25 years old, gay and he lived in Ufa, Russia. He worked doing home renovations - laying floors and installing windows. His father was a professor at the University and his mother was a stay at home mom.

I checked into Google to do some research to try and verify some of what he was telling me about where he was from and where he said he worked and, sure enough, those places did exist.

We exchanged email address and began keeping in touch, sometimes daily for the next few weeks. He emailed me a few photos of himself, very handsome, boy-next-door type.

Then one day he mentioned he would like to move out of Russia because of the homophobia, he couldn’t be out where he lived. He said he had been saving his money for about a year and wanted to move to Canada because gay people could get married here. He asked if there were jobs in construction that he could apply for. At the time Guelph was having a housing boom, becoming a “commuter-ville” city.

I waited for him to ask me for money to help him but he didn’t. I told him I didn’t have money, that I had a very low paying job. He assured me that he would earn the money and his father would help him if he needed it. So I’m thinking this is great. We kept the email communication going for another two months. Then he asked for my phone number, he wanted to call me and so he could hear my voice. It went against every instinct I had – but I gave it to him.

Each time he called, it sounded  phoney but I put it off to his use of the English language; it would need a little work. He would say, “oh, I love you – muah muah” blowing kisses over the phone. He told me his father was happy that I was going to help him move to Canada. He sent me one email that was supposed to be his father to prove he was alright with what we were going to do.

It was sometime in the fourth month I woke up and therewass an email waiting for me. He was on his way.  His uncle was accompanying him to Moscow where he had to go to the Embassy and file some papers for a  working visa. I was in shock.  I wasn’t ready for this but it was happening. It would take more than a day to get to Moscow and a couple days to wait for the paperwork to be processed.

Then on the third day, I get “that” phone call. He needs $1,200. He has to purchase a return ticket in case he wasn’t able to stay. Calmly I told him I didn’t have the money and reminded him I didn’t make much money at my job. He began to beg me, telling me he loved me. I made out  I was having trouble hearing him and I hung up.

I quickly did a call back to see what number he was calling from. It turned out the number was right here in my town, but the recording said, “that number is an unlisted number”, he was hacking into our phone system. Twenty minutes later, I get an email from him. In that email was a list of all the Western Union and Fast Cash locations here in my city, with all the addresses and phone numbers - every place I could go to and wire him the money.

I began to freak out. He had all my info, even my home address. I had given it to him in case he needed it for the paper work. I went into “delete and block” mode. I blocked his emails and stopped answering his calls. I’m thinking, what if he showed up at my door someday, pissed off at what I did - or if he’s connected to the  Russian mafia?

A few days passed, the phone didn’t ring, no more emails, I felt I just dodged a big one. Never again!

With what is happening in Russia right now, I just feel we need to proceed with caution if we are approached by people online. In Russia, the straight people are luring young gay men into public areas and beating or torturing them. They had the means four years ago to do the same to me, from thousands of miles away.

My heart goes out to the LGBT community in all the countries that have laws that deny everyone the same human rights and the right to live the life they were born to live. There is a legal way for anyone to come to Canada, I suggest we encourage and support our brothers and sisters to get here that way. Who knows? Maybe we will meet  our match and some of us will live happily ever after.