I Married A Russian Mail Bride

In December 1992 a good friend of mine - we'll call him Bob - culminated 18 months of a pen pal relationship with a Russian mail bride when he agreed to meet the girl somewhere on the Polish border and bring her back to Italy with him. Up to that point he'd already sent her in the neighborhood of $8,000.00 dollars. For all I know he may still be waiting for her, because I don't believe she ever showed up.

Bob may be an exception and not the rule, but there are hundreds of men - maybe more - who get bilked out of money or suckered into the false pretense of marriage with a Russian mail bride. Now there may well be dozens of Russian women who actually want to marry a well-to-do westerner, but statistics don't bear this out. The majority of woman who pose as a Russian mail bride or mail order Russian bride or however you want to put it, could probably care less about developing a meaningful relationship. Many of these girls are looking for a green card or at the very least searching for an opportunity to bring the rest of their extended families back to the United States or Canada.

Mail order brides were big business back in the 18th and 19th century. Lots of women not -- not just the Russian mail bride -- were swayed to come to the United States and found themselves in a covered wagon heading out to the still-undiscovered West. The locations may have changed a bit over the last 200 years but the business proposition is still as valid (well, as valid as a mail order contract can be anyway) as it was at the turn-of-the-century.

The mail order Russian bride business is just an off-shoot of the Russian girl pen pal business. Which is a distant cousin of the Ukraine girl pen pal business and who knows how many other nationalities. These pen pal agencies are not for free. They can cost anywhere from $50.00 to a $100.00 dollars or more. They serve a purpose, as many create the first contact with the potential Russian mail bride.

Many of these Russian mail bride agencies will offer package deals. For example, for a specific price they will send you photos of 5 or 6 girls. Then they'll coordinate a face-to-face meeting, an opportunity to meet the nice girl's parents. They may even offer services that will acquire a visa for the woman of your dreams. It all costs money. And the dollars add up.

Apparently someone out there is doing more than just writing these girls letters, because the Russian mail bride business is bigger than ever. There are quite a few middle-aged overweight businessmen out there who are taken with the idea of a girl will dote over them and cater to their every whim. The face-to-face package tours pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Many times, these are thinly veiled prostitution scams. Many times the scam takes a turn for the worse. My friend Bob never made it to Russia to meet his future wife or her parents. He pinned his dreams on a photograph and bi-weekly letters that may not have even been written by Bob's potential Russian mail bride. But he got hooked. Promises of a devoted wife, someone who will cook and iron and provide sex every day or week or whenever was all it took. And oh by the way - can you send me $100.00 dollars to help by groceries for my family. Or perhaps it was money to pay for a doctor for the girl's sick grandmother. The excuses for money added up as quickly as the wire transfers themselves.

At the end of the day what did he have to show for it? A long wait in a rental car at some non-descript point on the Polish border. Waiting for a girl who never showed up or may never have existed in the first place.

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