"This sordid business has recently seen a rapid growth in our country, with a great number of fake sites appearing on the web."People are striving to find their 'other half' and these crooks are like parasites on their feelings and hopes. He had certain hopes which were ruined in the lowest way." Another photograph used by the scammers was that of the Russian singer Alsou, the daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon, who has a penthouse in London and is also happily married.
Her pictures were simply ripped off and she was dubbed "Anna Safina".
Two of the men behind this particular scam - Sergey Chetverikov, 22, and Oleg Yelsukov, 24 - have now been brought to justice and are serving three years in prison.
But with the returns that can be made on these scams, the pair are likely to be back at work as soon as they get parole.
"This is my advice: those who prefer virtual romances should be much more prudent.
You simply can't be as unsuspecting as some of these men. "Second, I can easily imagine how upset the man, who transferred the money was.
One remote city and so many beautiful women, all desiring nothing more than to fire the passion of British men.
When he discovered the truth, he was too embarrassed to contact the police.No other business pays as well in this grim backwater.Volochkova herself, who left the Bolshoi Ballet in 2003, is now happily married in Moscow and horrified at her pictures being used by the scammers. Fantasy: Glamorous 23-year-old 'Anna Safina' promises 'to do everything to make you feel good'.The capital of the Mari-El republic, Yoshkar-Ola, is 500 miles east of Moscow and is still suffering from the collapse of its manufacturing industry after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.Today it is estimated that as many as one in 100 residents in the city is involved in dating scams.No wonder this new industry is said to be worth an incredible £40-£ 50 million a year to the city.One fraudster, who poses as an attractive blonde called Anna Ivanova, said: "The average salary in my city is £75 a month."The choice here is simple - either poverty or larceny. "People are fools if they want to find a wife on the internet."It is not real.The 28-year-old was earning some extra money for his classes at university in Russia.After the matter was reported to Russian police, he was jailed.They never saw the money or heard from the women again. In a final humiliating twist, they found out, usually far too late, that many of the sensuous "women" with whom they had been corresponding were actually men - part of one of the many sinister Russian mafia rings making a fortune out of such scams.In one case, a member of a gang posed as a nurse using a photograph of the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet dancer Anastasia Volochkova.