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As the Ukraine's economy improves, options available for travel to the region have improved dramatically – along with a greater availability for goods and services.
However, the Ukraine is still very much a cash economy, despite its attempts to integrate into European and other international institutions. As a result of this, and without any regulatory bodies with any real clout to step in, there are many points for financial exploitation within Ukraine.
The Ukraine police forces are notoriously corrupt - bribes are solicited by police on a day to day basis, and in many cases, officers are paid off by criminals to turn a blind eye to crime - minor or major.
If you are in the Ukraine and encounter a police officer and it is understood you are foreign, chances are you will be questioned for some reason and quite possibly charged with an offense. Then, you'll probably get a solicitation for a bribe. It needs to be said that bribery is illegal, but in reality, it is extremely improbable that you will be charged with bribing a police officer. Bribes usually don't run up any more than around US $5, but sometimes it can be more.
Technically, this kind of intimidating activity is coercion, which is in itself illegal. The problem is, who can you report the crime to?
Our tip is to treat the incidence of police bribery as you would any other money related crime - it's best to comply with the person and give them what they want than to cause a scene and create further trouble for yourself.
ATMs are becoming more prevalent in Ukraine, especially in major cities like Kiev. However, they are big targets for crooks - some who even go to the trouble to create their own fake ATMs!
Not a joke - it was reported in Ukrainian media that a set of criminals had built a machine in the commercial centre of Kiev offering withdrawls with 'no commission', obviously looking to target travelers who would normally be none the wiser.
When people inserted their card and tried to take their cash out, the machine spat out the message "Damage Of Equipment" - the card was stuck, and the crooks had access to the PIN.
Aside from this criminal ingenuity, there have been wide reports of "card skimming" - where criminals videotape customers entering their PINs, or set up systems that allow the information on the card to be duplicated to a replica and used later.
But it's not just ATMs that have been a focus for technologically inclined criminals. Some of the biggest criminal undertakings in the world in regard to credit card number collection, especially on the internet, have been masterminded in the Ukraine.
The key is to be very cautious when using credit cards or ATMs, and deal only with reputable businesses. If you are affected by these kinds of crimes, don't expect Ukrainian authorities to offer up much in the way of help.
It's no secret that some of the most beautiful women in the world come from either Russia or the Ukraine. It's also no secret that for many men, a way to find love is by way of 'mail-order brides' - essentially meaning women looking to leave their country of origin for a new life in a Western country.
Hundreds of webpages have been established offering up thousands of beautiful women all looking for a new start. And for many vulnerable and lonely men, it looks like an offer that is too good to be true (which in most cases, it often is). But those who get temporarily blinded by the prospect, also get duped out of thousands by unscrupulous operators.
If you have been in contact with an agency regarding love in the Ukraine, be very, very careful. You may consider traveling over to the country to meet your prospective lover - but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Not all agencies are unscrupulous, but most are. You might get lucky with a legitimate business, but chances are, you are looking down the barrel of a gigantic scam. If you are contacted and have requests made for cash, money transfers, purchasing of items or financial support, be very cautious. Don't get duped by simply handing over your money to someone you have never met or have no way to know you can trust.
If you plan to travel to the Ukraine to meet your potential love, do extensive research on the person before you fork out to make the trip. Cross check their name with any number of websites that have been established which can help you find scam profiles.
A little bit of research can save you a lot of heartache.
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