Finding an honest agency is a huge help in this process. However, you should know that most of these places, especially the agencies that are based in the FSU, are only interested in separating you from your money. The advice in this chapter will save you much confusion, money and heartache. It is too bad that more Russian women and Ukrainian women do not advertise themselves independently. However, without having an internet connection of their own and with only limited knowledge of English the agency alternative is their most realistic choice. Also, many of these ladies are not aware of how many of these places are only interested in cheating their male clients.
There are a few large US-based agencies dealing with potential Russian brides (or Ukrainian brides). Most of these places are honest businesses and run fairly well. However, they have to cooperate with local agencies within the cities of the FSU. Unfortunately, the big agency may be honest, but the local one may not be so upright. It is important to test all of these agencies before deciding to trust them.
Fire up your internet browser and find a big list of Russian women marriage agencies. You may even find some more general internet dating sites which advertise Russian or Ukrainian women. I seriously suggest that you avoid the general dating sites. They are just not specific enough. Once you have a list of some possible agencies, first compare them to your target area. If you have decided to visit (eventually) Vinnitsa, Ukraine for example, it makes no sense to consider an agency that located 1,000 miles away! After going through this first step you should have a list of several agencies to consider. By this point you have also probably looked through the pictures on these sites. It is normal, but I suggest you not allow the pictures to make your decision for you.
Start by giving each website a good general once over. It should have a nice clean look to it. Try to figure out how many profiles they have listed. It should be said that a smaller city may not be able to support a huge number of women’s profiles. However, there should be a sufficient number to give you a good chance of success. If there are any less than 100 women in the age group you are seeking I would run away. Or at least approach that agency with extreme caution (and maybe use another one as your primary source). Does the site appear to be updated regularly? Are outdated profiles removed? You can determine this by looking at the ID numbers. If everything is in strict numeric or alpha-numeric order this is probably not the case. Of course, this method is not always reliable, but it is the best method available to you. You really want the agency to have a physical address listed and an actual phone number. This phone number should be one that works and when you call you actually reach someone in the office. Someone who can speak at least a bit of English. You also want a clear price list and real-time credit card processing. This is very expensive and difficult to get in the FSU. Most scam agencies will simply request you send your money either directly to their bank account or via Western Union. The women should be required to register in person. Of course, this information may not be listed—you may have to send an email and ask this question. I suggest you be a little coy with your questioning. Ask how they know the women are really single and looking for a partner instead of asking if they have to come register in person. The only real way an agency can verify this information is to examine her passport. The next question can be whether or not they look at her passport and other documents in person or if scanned copies are accepted. Finally, you should be able to exchange or obtain full contact details of each woman you are interested in. If you are not able to purchase her physical address and phone number, then at the very least this should not be prohibited in your letters. Many agencies want to be the only point of contact and will not let you get the woman’s full contact details. You need to be able to contact the woman on your own, without the agencies help at all. If you feel like there is no way to get her direct (and complete) contact info, you may want to consider not using this agency. However, if they provide a 3-way calling service (where an interpreter is on the phone with you and your lady), you can call, ask for her phone number then hang up and call her back on your own. Of course, let her know beforehand this is how the call will progress!
It should also be said that even if one or two of these factors are missing, you still may be dealing with a basically honest agency. For example, maybe the agency does require local women to register in person. However, perhaps they also accept a few ladies from out of town. In this case, they will take a scanned copy of her documents. I would just be a little extra careful in dealing with those women from out of town.
After this initial step, some specific questions may have come to your mind. You may also be looking at several agencies that you feel are worth further consideration. So, take your questions and email them. The speed at which they respond will also tell you something. How thorough they are in answering your questions will give you more information. The quality of the English writing will also give you some idea of how good their translations will be. Of course, it may not necessarily be written by an interpreter but still should tell you something about how the agency operates. Which agencies give you a good feeling? Which do you think you would enjoy working with? Ask for some recommendations of some of there male clients. If they refuse to give you any…it may be because they don’t have any! Will you be dealing directly with the owner or office manager, or some other employee? You may also want to ask how many people they have working in the office and what each person does. This will give you a general feel to their operation and also give you a contact name if you have a question or any kind of difficulty in the future. It will also make everything more personal. You will (hopefully) become a person to them, not just a name or a number. This is very important for other reasons as well--namely, they will think you are more serious and more likely to actually make a trip to visit some of their Russian women and/or Ukrainian women.
The next step is to do some further investigating on your own. Search through some of the Russian women (RW) message boards to see if there is any information mentioned at all about any of the agencies you are considering. Bear in mind that many of these places end up being where people who have issues or axes to grind go to vent. Or to start arguments with others. So, look through everything relating to the agencies in question and try to get a feel for the whole discussion before really coming to a decision. You can also search through some of the “black list” sites which try to give information about which agencies are good and which are not. Again, a lot of this can be very subjective. Maybe a man felt that after some time of correspondence his woman should have fallen head over heels in love with him…and she didn’t. They met and things went badly for him, he comes home and posts his story to one of these sites saying this agency scammed him, etc…. Does the site do any kind of investigation before listing this agency as questionable or on its black list? Maybe. Maybe not. Try to find out as much as you can about why the agency is listed. Generally, though, if it is listed someplace like this, you should probably exercise extreme caution in your dealings with them. Just understand that a listing on such a site is not the final word—you should investigate and make your own decision. If you have questions about particular agencies, send me an email. And check the website for updates!
At this point there may be a few (we hope) agencies that are still worth your consideration. If you have not done so already, contact them by telephone. Just see what kind of people they have answering the phones. Just see what kind of “feel” you get from the agency. You should also go back online and do a Google search for each agency. This may reveal some interesting or surprising things.
The above investigation should eliminate most of those agencies that are not above board.
By Joseph Carducci