Beware scammers who troll sites

A form of illegal immigration unknown to most Americans is fraudulent marriage.

It affects thousands of vulnerable citizens who are hungry for stable, loving relationships, and who make contact with deceptive individuals who are willing to do anything, at any cost, to get into the United States.

The relationship often starts on dating websites and progresses to an unbelievably cruel relationship in which the foreigner takes control. In many cases, the marriages end quickly, and hearts are left broken.

From thousands of miles away, with a few coordinators located in the U.S., a crime ring scripts the whole thing. Few Americans see it coming; few wiggle out.

A typical example is a man I’ll call Mark. He met a woman on a respectable dating website. She convinced him to fly to the foreign country where she lived, where she hugged and kissed him and told him how much she loved him.

Love, love, love! When it was time for him to go home, the woman begged him not to go. “Man,” Mark told himself, “this woman really loves me.”

They married several months later.

Armed with the preceding information, you will see how the following scenario was laden with fraud from the beginning.

Mark found an old email from the woman addressed to someone else. She had sent the same message to Mark long ago and accidentally sent it again to him with another man’s name on it. When Mark brought this up, she said it was nothing but a mistake.

At each point, Mark wanted to believe his marriage would last forever.

Mark’s new bride finally became so desperate for a reason to ditch Mark and move to the West Coast (to blend in with its more diverse international community) that she went to bed one evening with a plan you’d think could never work.

Mark went into the bedroom, lay down and kissed her. She jumped out of bed, moaned loudly and ran to the other room. Mark followed her. She accused him of injuring her.

She seized Mark’s wrists and tried to hit herself with his fists. Mark was bewildered and tried to soothe her.

He was trying to understand, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Further evidence abounds beyond belief, making this case overly easy to call fraud, but the police captain did not understand.

When he arrived on the scene, she was screaming and trying to convince the police she’d been abused.

Most of the captain’s experience with domestic scuffles had in fact involved abuse, and so we can understand his interest in determining whether Mark had crossed the line.

Mark had no idea what in the world had just happened.

The captain wrote down “battery” and carted Mark off to jail.

Mark didn’t think to say, “Hey, wait a minute! She grabbed my wrists like a vise and pulled me to the floor. She tried to hit herself with my hands.”

Mark’s confusion, sorrow, expenses and loss of freedom only had begun. Only through repeated, long discussions with him was I able to bring him to his senses to see he had fallen into a trap set out two years in advance.

The scam, not always as extreme as what Mark suffered, often works.

Many successful relationships are started online, but many thousands of vulnerable U.S. citizens are tricked into fraudulent marriages.

Keep an eye out for clues that don’t fit with trust and common sense, and you can probably avoid Mark’s long nightmare.

Does the online partner express too much emotion too soon? Does the partner invite you into a deeper involvement or to visit the other country too soon?

Does the partner compliment you unnecessarily? Are you making yourself more vulnerable by trying to deepen the encounter too soon?

These signs spell fatal desperation, to your detriment.

Mark wanted you to know his story, and believe me, I haven’t told half of it.

Max Russell is owner of Max and Max Communications and formerly taught Spanish in Southern Hancock schools. You can contact him via his website,