Immigration Fraud and other Pitfalls in International Romance

So, in my last post I started to talk about the marriage of convenience and how, in my bachelor days, I was either worried of being accused of this kind of immigration/marriage fraud or being duped by some international golddigger who married me for the wrong reasons.  I promised a list or red flags to look out for if you are trying to avoid someone scamming you like this.  A complete list would stretch for miles but here are a few (and yes, forgive the obviously tongue-in-cheek entries):

You found her on any kind of mail order bride service. I’m not kidding.  These sites/catalogs are WAY to common.  I met a guy in a northern Philippine town and we struck up a conversation over mango pie at Jollibee.  He was from Utah, was missing teeth and seemed to drive his wife crazy with almost everything he said.  When she left to go to the rest room he told me she was a mail order bride.  Classy.
She his hot, young and from a developing country and you are old, fat and from a developed country. We have all seen this and it is easy to spot in others but not always as easy to see when you are the aging chubster.  Not to be looks-obsessed but be wary of model types climbing all over you on vacation, they’ll divorce you just as quick when they have grown enough roots stateside.
He or she asked you if you were a citizen of the US, any EU country or other rich country before taking the time to flirt with you further. This happened to ME a few years ago and since I was hyper-sensitive about this I immediately was suspicious of what otherwise seemed an innocent enough encounter.
His family was too eager to encourage the romance. Gold diggers can work as families.  When I worked in a Filipino fishing village I had a father implore me to marry his daughter.  I was 16 and clueless but even then it seemed a little too obvious.  I was the entire family’s ticket to a wealthier life.
Conversation always shifts to leaving country of origin. Pay attention to how often conversation shifts to border hopping.  It can be a veritable obsession for some.
He pushes for a speedy marriage. This may seem flattering but recognize it for what it is.  He may not be as head over heels for you as he is with the idea of a one-way ticket to your country.
Your romance has been brokered by someone who you met on vacation who promises to introduce you to someone, “beautiful’, “sexy”, etc. It happens all the time and this can be exciting.  Often the broker delivers too.  He or she is hot.  But make not mistake.  The broker will get a cut of the winnings one way or another.  And you will be paying.
Too much emphasis on filling out those immigration forms. Refuse to talk about embassies, consulates, immigrations papers or anything of the sort until you are convinced that this tropical romance is the real deal.
In all seriousness, if it is too late and you are already married to the fraudster, check out this site and get help:  http://www.immigrationfraudvictims.com/index.html
By the same token, it IS possible to over-think all of this.  I don’t work for the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)  These posts were not intended to make you paranoid or xenophobic in your approach to international relationships.  International romance is a good thing.  Do not let the mere fact that you and your potential spouse are from different countries prevent you from finding and growing real love.  That would be a tragedy.  Just be savvy.  One more thing.  Here’s a list of the questions that may come up if you are in a US Citizen / foreign immigrant marriage.  It doesn’t hurt to be prepared:)
A list of likely questions that an immigration officer will ask you if you are suspected of immigration fraud
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Bjorn Karlman