Most of the time, which agency you go through does not matter. What matters is how much you know about scams. You will find both real ladies and scammers almost everywhere. Forget about relying on dating sites to weed the scammers out. It is your responsibility to educate yourself about all types of scams and to recognize a scammer trying to make money off you.
Here is my suggested plan of action:
1. Read all you can about Russian and also Nigerian dating scams. Know all types of scammers (yes, there is more than one). Find out the most common scam tricks. Become an active member of at least 1 anti-scam forum and at least 1 forum where married Russian-American or Russian-[insert your nationality here] couples discuss post-marriage and immigration issues. Be familiar with all major black lists. Instead of just browsing through their pictures, read the actual scam reports and make observations about scammers' ways to ask for money (allow yourself at least 1 full week for your scam-education phase).
2. Once you are sick of reading scam reports, start writing to ladies. Start by searching online for negative reports about largest agencies in the market (by then you will know them all by name) and get to know their dirty tricks.
4. Decide (based on those reports) which one of them is the least of all evils.
4. Browse their database, and decide on 10-15 girls who do not look familiar (if they look familiar, you might have seen them on the black lists). And remember, the cutest girls get the most letters from other guys. Write introductory letters to the girls you like, and hopefully a few will respond.
5. Start correspondence and tell them that it is going to be several months before you meet, and that YOU will travel to their hometown to meet for the first time. No inviting them over to your country or on "vacations" to other countries!
6. Find out their full names as soon as you can and try to verify their information through my agency or any other agency that you think looks trustworthy (google them first to see if there are any negative reports about them). Also you can use flower delivery agencies (that are not associated with any dating sites) to send flowers and ask for pictures of the recipient.
7. Watch for warning signs. If the relationship start to remind you a scam - back out or get confirmation of girl's stories somehow. Do not write off the red flags on "cultural differences". When in doubt - ask people from the forums that you are active on (and actually listen to their suggestions). Do not get too involved with "troubled" girls (the ones with too many secrets and strange things going on). Try to narrow your choice down to 1-2 ladies. Then start planning your first visit. Do not lie to ladies about them being "the only one" if it is not true. If you expect them to be honest with you - be honest with them.
8. When you are ready to visit, arrange your accommodations through a third party (do not use companies that the girl or the agency suggest). Do your due diligence research before committing to any travel or accomodation service.
9. Take it from there.
- Do not have money to travel to Russia within the next year or so
- Do not have time to travel to Russia
- Think my suggestions are too much work for you...
Then I do not know what to tell you.
My suggestions are only suggestions. I am sure there are other ways to go, but it is the one that I recommend.
P.S. To start your scam education, I woul suggest that you read our Dating Scam 101 article if you have not done it already
http://www.russian-detective.com/scams/ ... o_know.htm
and expand from there. Do not stop there. Laziness is a dangerous thing when it comes to your online safety and your money.