Scambusters: Mail order brides

2354’s team of scambusters are continuously seeking out consumers who have been taken in by some off-the-wall scam. Today’s story features Knoxville native Tony Ortavio. Tony is an out-of-luck, unemployed dock worker who has been feeling lonely lately. “If it wasn’t for disappointment, I wouldn’t have any appointment,” he explained.

Late last year, Tony decided to take his loneliness by the horns and conquer it once and for all. While checking his Hotmail email account one autumn afternoon, he noticed an ad addressed to him, explaining that all he had to do to find love was click the attached link. After clicking the link and closing 47 pop-up windows, he found himself on a site advertising a mail-order bride service, specializing in Russian brides. Having just seen Birthday Girl, Tony felt he was ready to try his luck.

The bride Tony selected.

He filled out the paperwork and began the painstaking selection process. Once he decided on his bride-to-be, he notified the agency. Natalia Porgaskova was still available and they would forward his request to her.

Natalia reportedly reviewed Tony’s bio, and agreed to the marriage. The agency then collected their locating fee of $1500 and airfare from Moscow for $1326. The agency was to take care of all paperwork and arrange for any required visas. The “couple” exchanged several letters over the next few months while the agency arranged for her travel.

While waiting, Tony found a job at a local dock and began unloading ships 12 hours a day. With his hard earned money, he painted his house and bought some new sheets.

Finally the day arrived. He was more excited than he ever had been, and even hung a sign in his living room with the message “Welcome home, Natalia!” Finally, he heard a knock on the door. He opened it to find an Airborne Express delivery man accompanied by a large box. The box was from Russia. “At first, I just thought this was her stuff arriving ahead of her, so I signed for it and we wheeled it into the house. Little did I know,” Tony explained.

Natalia, Tony’s new wife?

After a couple more hours, he finally decided to open the box and see what was banging around inside. To his surprise, a small white goat was contained in the box. It was accompanied by a water bottle, some food, and straw, and a note explaining that this was Natalia, his wife to be.

Devastated, he contacted the scambuster team, who, after laughing for a half hour, came over to investigate. It is our determination that nobody should ever respond to spam. Secondly, when researching for mail order brides, please use a reputable service. We tried to contact the agency he used and they did not return our emails.