Love Games from Russia: How the Pandemic and War in Ukraine Triggered a Surge in Romance Scams

If we look at Internet fraud statistics carefully, we will see that love scams occupy a significant part of it. Unfortunately, the number of love scams has steadily increased in recent years. What is the reason for this? The primary reason for this is the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2019 and the subsequent war between Ukraine and Russia. Amid the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have turned to the internet for social connection and solace. And this has led to an increase in Russian dating scams on dating sites. In this article, we will look at why this happened, what tactics scammers use, and discuss how to protect yourself from their actions.

Why are Scammers so Active on the Internet and Dating Sites?

The pandemic and war evoke conflicting emotions among people. On the one hand, they suffer from loneliness and isolation, and in contrast, they desire to communicate. Under conditions of increased stress, people need understanding and support. They seek opportunities to connect with others who can understand their emotions. Romantic relationships or just company for communication are important to them. All of these things have made more people use the internet and social media.

This trend is especially noticeable on dating sites, where people are looking not only for romance but also for company to cope with loneliness when they have to stay at home and cannot spend time with friends and family.

Research shows that the number of dating apps and website users has grown significantly over the past year. For example, the Tinder app recorded increased activity during the pandemic, when many countries introduced quarantine measures. And the war and the emphasis on Ukraine and Russia increased interest in Ukrainian and Russian girls on these sites.

Fraud Tactics and Their Use in War and Pandemic Conditions

The increase in the number of users on dating sites has attracted the attention of scammers. In light of recent events, many so-called “Russian dating scams” have appeared. Fraudsters use the long-established opinion that Russian girls are distinguished by their beauty kindness and prefer to devote themselves to their family rather than their career. These qualities make them attractive to foreigners, and scammers specializing in “Russian brides” actively take advantage of this.

Russian scammers, acting through dating sites and social networks, posing as attractive and charming women, gain the trust of foreign men. They use beautiful photographs and promises of love to lure their victims. And they succeed in doing so, leaving them with empty wallets and broken hearts.

Fraudsters use various tactics to gain and deceive their victims’ trust. They create fake profiles, use deception techniques, and manipulate their victims’ emotions. In conditions of war and pandemic, their actions become even more effective as people become more vulnerable and inclined to seek support and communication.

Two are the most common if we talk about the tactics used in Russian dating scams.

The first is the use of fake documents, photographs, and videos. Romantic fraudsters create fake profiles using email on other people’s domains to avoid tracking. Then, they make up stories about Russian girls who dream of marrying a foreigner and going to their country. 

This type of fraud is relatively easy to recognize and stop. At the beginning of communication, you must ask to chat via webcam or request real data to identify the person. Realizing that he can be checked, the scammer usually disappears.

Another tactic is that the scammer does not hide her real identity. In front of the potential victim, the real person and the scammer communicate by phone, webcam, and even in person. She creates the illusion of a real romantic interest but ultimately asks the victim to send her money under various pretexts, such as a difficult financial situation, education, treatment, etc. She can also use the theme of the war between Ukraine and Russia in her “stories”. Many people in Russia have relatives and friends in Ukraine, so these stories sound true.

In this tactic, the main role is the correspondence between the scammer and the victim and the pretext under which she wants to get help from the man. She often persuades a foreign man to give her money as a gift. After receiving the funds, she disappears, leaving him no way to track her.

It is important to note that many russian scammers work in an organized manner and have entire networks that allow them to operate effectively and hide their criminal acts.

How to Protect Yourself from Romantic Fraudsters on Dating Sites

To protect yourself from scammers on dating sites, you should be extremely careful and vigilant. It is important to check profiles and suspicious situations, not disclose personal information, and use only trusted and safe dating platforms.

It is also recommended not to trust too quickly or send money to strangers online, especially if they ask for financial help or offer to enter into a romantic relationship too quickly.


The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increase in the number of romance scammers on dating sites which are actively exploiting users’ increased interest in online communication. However, with the right approach and vigilance, you can protect yourself from their insidious actions and enjoy safe online communication.