SCAM ALERT: Basic Travel Allowance (BTA)
To the CupidScreen Team,
Although I view your site regularly, this is my first time I’ve sent something to you as I know you can answer my question.
I’ve met a guy on http://www.match.com, we started talking on messenger and he immediately seemed very interested in me. At first I was very excited, but things started to sound wrong.
He initially told me that he was doing some construction work in Nigeria and was working on a big project that would pay him a lot of money. Then he fell in love with me and told me that he was going to return to the United Kingdom, his home country, and prepare things to come to visit me in the United States. Then he told me that he would need help to be able to come to the States as things had fallen through with his work. At first I was willing to help, but then when I started to offer to pay for the flights and arrange travel myself I started to notice something wrong.
He started to say that he needs 500 pounds for the ticket, BTA and other expenses. He doesn’t want me to buy the ticket myself and keeps saying that he can’t leave the airport without paying the BTA (Basic Travel Allowance).
Although I’m starting to realise that this is probably a scam, can you tell me if the BTA is true??? Am I being scammed?
Lets get straight to the point – There is no such thing as a “Basic Travel Allowance” or BTA! This is a dating scam used by the scammers as a pathetic attempt to justify why you should send them money. This scam is otherwise known as the Personal Travel Allowance, Travellers Allowance Fee, Travellers Assistance Fund or Travellers Assurance Fund. Basically anything involving an individual who is stuck at the airport and is unable to fly unless they pay an upfront fee.
Although the BTA was in fact a scheme imposed approximately 30-40 years ago to prevent poor countries from going broke (restricting the amount of local currency being taken out), this scheme is long gone and these days is a term which has been adopted by scammers.
In this day and age, in order to obtain a visa for their destination country, an individual may be required to show they have sufficient funds to cover their travel arrangements as part of the visa acceptance requirements. The individual will be required to show evidence they have sufficient funds in their bank account or assets and MUST provide supporting evidence of where that money came from. Visas will not be approved if they suddenly have a large amount of cash transferred into their bank account and are unable to explain where it came from! Visas are also not approved on the basis they ‘borrowed’ money. This is at the discretion of the destination country ONLY as to whether their visa will be accepted.
There is certainly no requirement, anywhere, for an individual to provide their own government/airport/travel agent proof they have sufficient money to cover their travel expenses. Scammers will often claim they have arrived at the airport and just as they are about to board their flight they were asked to show evidence of funds. This is a common technique to encourage a sense of urgency – why you must not think this through logically and immediately send them the money before you realise it was just a big con!
Unfortunately the individual you are speaking to has no intention of ever seeing you, let alone any romantic feelings towards you. You are dealing with a scammer and under no circumstances should you send them any money! Our best advice is to immediately cease contact with them, report them to the dating site you met them on and add their profile to our scamChat database.
If you are still unsure and would like to verify their identity by a licensed private investigator – request a CupidScreen romance scam check today and get the piece of mind (and evidence!) you require.
Please don’t let this experience put you off online dating altogether. Trust your instincts and when in doubt……..check them out!