Address Sellers

These are now mostly an on-line version of the organisations that used to sell catalogues of people looking for pen friends or more serious relationships.

The most typical business model is that you pay a small sum of money for the name and address of a woman who is looking for a man for a serious relationship, normally involving marriage.

In return, you will receive an email address or perhaps a regular mail address for the woman.

There is always a lot of doubt in this process and you may find that the addresses for which you pay are no longer valid or that the recipient of your letter is just not interested in you. Some agencies offer a limited refund on address which later turn out to be bad.

The agencies do use other business models from time to time. These include:

* Giving you free email access but charging you for regular addresses or phone numbers.

* Allowing you to exchange a limited number of emails at no charge and then imposing a fee for subsequent letters.

* Asking you to buy a membership that gets you unlimited access for a certain period of time.

Of course, these variations involve the agency in additional work such as paying for somebody to read all incoming and outgoing email to ensure that there are no phone numbers or addresses.

One of the most common complaints on the Russian Women mailing List (RWL) is that an address seller is making money by selling addresses which are out of date. Given the way that these businesses work, this is inevitable.

Some agencies publish a tally of the number of times that a woman's address has been sold. Others undetake to remove a woman from their online catalogue when her address has been sold more than a certain number of times. Perhaps some agencies do this but I am sure that this is not always the case. Reports on the RWL indicate that these numbers and claims are often false.

Another known technique for these operations is to poach addresses from other agencies. It is quite easy for an agency to look at the free addresses available on various sites and to place copies of those advertisements on their own site and charge money for the addresses. The lazy ones don't bother to change anything. The more enterprising ones will reword the advertisement or even substitute the photos so that their deception is harder to detect.

The theft of addresses from other agencies, the creation of entirely fictional women or the listing of women who have no knowledge that they are being listed in this way all happen.

Few address sellers will do anything to vet the women applying to be listed on their services. This and the fact they the women do not pay to be listed means that they are a tempting target for the minority of women who are not honest.

If the above warnings sound off putting, then perhaps they are too strong. Many men and women meet and find real love together through these agencies. The problems arise in a minority of cases and just by being aware of the potential problems and applying a little common sense you can steer clear of the traps.

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