As I’ve mentioned, most of the women one penpal/dating sites are honest. You must be prepared, however, to use some common sense and look out for con artists.
The obvious goal of scammers is to rob you of your hard-earned money. If they can fool you with a fake picture, they’ll use different stories to start the con game:
*A sick relative in the hospital
*Money for computer use
The above expenses are indeed very common here (many of my Filipino friends have experienced financial difficulties due to the above scenarios). Though life can be hard in the Philippines, it is foolish to give money to someone you have not met in person. You simply have no way to verify the truthfulness of her statements.
The scammers that I have met are usually not very patient. They’ll start asking for money fairly quickly in your “relationship” (within the first few chats). If your newfound friend quickly brings up money (or her difficult situation), then that should serve as a warning sign. Just tell her that you cannot help her until you’ve met in person and see how she responds. Con artists will quickly lose interest if they know you’re not sending money.
By the way–scammers seeking money will be quick to tell you that they are not after money. They will be very manipulative, talking about expenses and telling you “I don’t know what we’ll do”–hoping that you will offer to send money. Young women have called my cell phone and made up all kinds of stories (“I’m here alone and I’m sick–I can’t afford to go to the doctor”). If you are a nice guy like me, you naturally want to help others–especially a young woman who interest you. Don’t take the bait! A genuine, honest woman will not expect money from a complete stranger.
Keep in mind that foreign money usually buys a lot of pesos. In other words, even requests for small amounts can still be a sign that you are getting conned. It is free money for her, so she doesn’t need to be ambitious in order to make more than she could from honest work. All she had to do was create a free email, download a free image, and start the con game.
There’s also not likely going to be any legal consequences for her actions. The government just doesn’t have the time to investigate this kind of small-time fraud. This simply ads to the temptation to get online and make a quick, risk-free buck.
Let’s say you’ve established trust over several weeks/months and you want to help her with communication expenses. Fine, but keep in mind that it should not be terribly expensive. Internet use runs about 20-30 pesos an hour, so a little money should go a long way. I’m mentioning this because scammers may exaggerate communication costs. I remember one scammer that told me she needed 15,000 pesos to rent a computer for the weekend (no one even does computer rental here, and you could just about buy one for that price). I had already figured her for a con artist at that point, so that request was just the final proof.
I’m not suggesting that you be paranoid–just cautious. Like it or not, part of your task will be to make sure your contacts are women who are honestly looking for a husband.
Remember, looking for a wife will require an investment of your time. Slowly but surely is the way to go.