SCAM ALERT: Basic Travel Allowance (BTA)

Posted on July 2, 2012 by admin 22 Comments

Basic Travel Allowance (BTA): Just another scam

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?

Hopelessinlove, Florida

Dear Hopelessinlove,

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!

Happy dating!


22 comments

  • Emily says:

    Wow thanks for posting this. I’m talking to a guy right now who has asked me for the same thing. Thank god I googled this!!!

  • Lonely in love says:

    Can this ever be true? I’m speaking to a guy and I’ve already sent him money. I truly believe he is telling the truth. I think your information is wrong?

  • admin says:

    I’m sorry, lonely in love. It’s a scam through and through. We have emailed you one of our info packs with some further details.

  • Can this ever be true? I’m speaking to aLady and I’ve already sent her money. I truly believe she is telling the truth. she asked me for BTA 3 weeks ago i paid for airfares and visa and passort for her and her daughter, after the british immagration told her she cant travel and she offered to send back the money to $6300 could this be true

    • admin says:

      I’m sorry David. There are many others like you who have fallen for this. IT IS A SCAM. If the individual you are talking to online has asked for payment and provided this excuse – they are scamming you. A CupidScreen representative will email you privately for follow up information. Just remember David – you are not alone. Scammers are incredibly convincing and many people have been duped by this heartbreaking scam. To report the scam in Australia – this can be online via the QPS: http://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/cscp/eCrime/scams/reporting.htm

  • Suzy says:

    I need some help in helping a friend who is about to be hurt badly and don’t know how to get through to him.
    Here’s the story as best I can tell it:
    We are in Canada and 5 years ago He started talking to a girl supposedly from Florida. They talked about meeting but she had plans for a trip to Africa – recently I found out it is Accra that she wound up in. And 4 months later she was to come to Canada to meet him. He went to the airport and she wasn’t there (of course).
    Two days later he received an email with a picture of herself in front of the CN Tower but she had returned to Africa having not met up with him. (I still don’t get why she didn’t return to Florida!) Anyway she claims to have no family and was the reason she was going to start “new” in Canada with him. However no money for another plane fare and he was told how she needed to show that she had money to travel he sent her $1000 approx that he told me of.
    She then went to arrange another flight but as she was getting that flight she was stopped for possession of gold nuggets and put in jail. He continued to receive emails from “friends” of hers and eventually got an email from her that she was free and clear of the charges and could work on making arrangements again.
    Suggestions that the US Embassy should be able to help her were met with “no they can’t help her”
    So at least 2 attemps for her to come here have been met with either she got sick or had an accident on the way to the airport…typical i have read other stories to this type of story.
    She is making plans for an another attempts in two weeks.
    She she a scammer or she really going to show up? I need to know because I have a relationship with this man and don’t want to loose him myself!
    Please help!

    • admin says:

      Hi Suzy,
      Thank you for your comment. This scenario has all the typical characteristics of a romance scam. Lets go through them:
      1. They have met online for friendship/relationships, haven’t met in person and she’s asked for money.
      2. She claims to be from a Western country however suddenly finds herself in an African country.
      3. Photographs can be easily stolen online so until her identity has been confirmed it should be assumed any photographs she is sending runs the risk of them not being her. Upload the pictures into tineye.com or google.com/images and identify whether they show up anywhere else.
      4. Romance scams are only successful once the scammer has their victims trust. This is typically why the fictitious character created by the scammer usually has a ‘hard life’ back story – in order to show vulnerability and build the trust as soon as possible. This has been executed here by claims of no family, no money, wanting to start ‘new’ etc.
      5. Once trust has been built, the requests for money come in.
      6. In order to obtain money, new excuses need to arise. The scammer has already worked out by now what excuses will work, and what won’t on their target victim and in this case they have gone with the one which they think could evoke the most amount of money out of their target and also drag it out for as long as possible. (the ‘arrest’)
      7. The scammers then recreate themselves in order to continue the scam, and this where the multiple different characters are introduced. It is incredibly easy to create fake accounts – just because I may email you and say I’m the US embassy doesn’t mean I am! But the scammer already has your victims trust so of course they will believe them. Not only that, he has also sent money over there so he has an ‘invested’ interest in believing this is true.
      8. Every opportunity to meet will be met with another excuse, and another request for money.

      Your friend is talking to a fictitious character created by the scammer. Your friend is talking to a CRIMINAL and is a victim of an online fraud.

      The biggest hurdle with these scams is the fact the scammer has your friend’s trust and ‘invested’ interest. This is a very hard bond to break, which is why we provide a detailed investigation and go into more detail than above. The biggest problem is once a scam has been revealed then complete contact with the scammer needs to be cut off. If not, then the scammer will only do what they do best – talk the victim around again to gain their trust again in order to continue the scam.

      Show him this message and if he needs further guidance then get in contact with us directly. This needs to be reported as a crime.

      Please remember – your friend is communicating with a fictitious character created by a CRIMINAL.

  • Suzy says:

    So I have nothing to worry about that there wont be anyone arriving on the plane ticket that is being arranged for a little over a week from now? As you can see by my messages this will kick me out of my home if it turns out she is real. I just don’t know how to convince him that it’s going to happen again and she wont be arriving.

    Has anyone ever wound up showing up?

    • admin says:

      Hi Suzy, as Investigators we don’t like to assume anything without the necessary due diligence, and in this case verification of this individuals identity. With that said though, from what you have advised it certainly seems like a clear example of a romance scam – and I can assure you if it is then there won’t be anyone on the plane. Although we have not seen the photographs used in your matter, the method scammers operate by is by using stolen photographs of individuals they have taken off the Internet so that’s why no-one can ever show up!

      There have been instances where the circumstances have been reversed – whereby the victim travels to meet their Date and instead of their “date” showing up at the airport, they are met by the offenders who claim to be the taxi driver, hotel manager etc. There are some very sinister cases whereby victims are kidnapped and robbed as a result.

      Please keep us updated with the outcome – hopefully the next excuse will be enough for your friend to accept he has been duped and move on. If not – encourage him to undergo a full CupidScreen. That’s what we’re here for after all!

  • Suzy says:

    Got the real shock last night out of all of this. The truth he kept denying until I finally talked it out of him.
    He has been continually sending her money all along into thousands of dollars but wont disclose to me the full amount. He also admitted that he intends to send her more money before her arrival next week! (if plane ticket is already being purchased there shouldn’t be a need for him to send her money now though I would think)
    So now I’m technically included in this scam because I have given him money to share in the rent, and towards food for which he has claimed he didn’t have enough for. (I wont be helping him with more money while this is continuing now that I know.)
    I have told him not to send the money to “her” but it seems to be falling on deaf ears. I asked him if he ever heard of “Romance scams” and he outright doesn’t want to listen to me about it. How do I make him realized before its too late? This all makes me so sick I can’t even think about anything else but I can’t let it effect my life.

    Also he kept saying exactly what you (the admin) said above that he had an “invested interest” but where he was only claiming that he sent the $1000 I thought that was a little far fetched and kept wondering why this was continuing if he hadn’t sent her more money. Then he finally admitted to the sending her what he has and what he plans to do.

    I have an “invested interest” in this too…I am a real live person, as well as a friend I am involved in his life and am emotionally attached to him. I hope that this doesn’t end where he does something to hurt himself as I have seen in some of the youtube and other internet stories.

    There is nothing more I can do now but wait out the next week and be there to comfort him when it goes as predicted.

  • Suzy says:

    Ok I know I sound like I’m doing all the work in investigating this but found something interesting today.

    The idea that whoever is in the pictures could be photoshopped I search in google for pics in front of the CN Tower and no word of a lie in the first set of images that came up was the spot the girl is standing in front a window with the CN tower showing from the window! The girl could easily have been photoshopped right in there!

  • Suzy says:

    Well Sunday came and he got another excuse that she had an “immigration problem at the airport and it’s going to take a few more weeks!!!”

    Well then I informed him that days prior I had already called the airline (KLM) and they told me that the flight had someone by the name of the scammer was booked for that flight but the ticket was never paid for and it had already been cancelled out!

    Also on one of the since she had already been here once on one of the previous attempts and returned back to Africa not her home in the US without having any such immigration problem that was catching the lie right there!

    This is one scammer that has been cut off!

    (So cupidscreen you now have a success story of defeating the scammer and the victim(s) are getting on with their lives together the way it was meant to be.)

    • admin says:

      Thank you for sharing this Suzy. Although we are sorry you had to go through this experience. Hopefully others will read your comments and prevent further victims!

      We wish you all the best in the future xx

  • Raj says:

    Looks like I too have been scammed. I met her on a dating site. Ended up inviting her to my country. She claims to have dual citizenship of UK and Australia. First I sent her half of the ticket price. Then a few days before her departure she sent me a BAA document saying that $2000 pounds is required for STF. I sent her that money through Western Union. On Dec 01, 2012 she was to board the flight from Heathrow. She sends me an email she was prevented from boarding the flight because the bank check was in my name. She is asking for a further $2000 pounds. I refused and asked her to scan and send me the check, which she did. I am trying to find out whether it is fake. The drawer is Provident Credit Union, the issuer is Moneygram, and the paying bank is Mellon. During our email conversations, she gave me her address somewhere in East Ham in London. She even called me 3 times — accent is clearly British. Is this a scam?

  • NameBINU says:

    dear admin,
    am trying to L1 visa usa, now pablic affrices person telling your visa stamping time 4000usd Basic traveling allowance check need.its true

  • Keith says:

    I recently met a woman through Craigslist. She claims to be an American currently residing in Nigeria. She says that if she meets up with me, she would share her families inheritance with me, so paying back the flight ticket wont be an issue.
    All of this sounded pretty sketchy, but she ended up texting me a few times and she even called me as well. Not only that, but I have talked with her “lawyer” as well regarding her inheritance. Is this is a scam? I could really use some help.

    • admin says:

      This is a common scam. The “lawyer” is another scammer who is posing as a professional. They only want YOUR money! Cease contact with them immediately.

  • Lux says:

    I think they are trying to scam me too with BTA, but I don’t understand it. Some English ‘Mr and Mrs Tayor’ claim to want to rent my house in France for one week in July. I tell them it is booked and suggest the week later. They accept, but in the meantime it has been booked too. Only is left one week one month later and they want to book it without complaining, quite surprising to tell the truth. In the meantime they do not ask anything about the house, but explain:
    “Regarding the payment arrangement,I am assuring you that their won’t be any problem because our company’s associate in Europe would be paying for our holiday expenses and they have inform me that they will be making the payment via Euro Cheque.
    >> The Euro Cheque that you will receive will be in excess, has Our Basic Travelers Allowance fee will be included in the rental fee base on trust. As soon as you have receive the Euro Cheque you would have it deposited into you account for clearance, you would deduct the rental fee and i will tell you how to send our Basic Travelers Allowance fee to my traveling agent so that he can do all paperwork’s, After the Euro Cheque has been cleared in your account.”
    They were deaf about my requests for more information, mainly on the amout of this BTA, and how I can justify it with taxes. This is their last mail:
    ” How are you doing over there? I am very sorry for not hearing from me for some time now, i have been away on an official duty, and let me also use this opportunity to inform you that i am very sorry for the delay of the payment, but now that our company has been able to cancel the first cheque.Any way i am sending you this massage to alert you that another cheque has been sent out to you and l think it should be delivered to your place before this week Saturday. I will want you to keep a close watch to your Mail-Box so that you will know as soon as it arrives so that you can proceed by taking it to your bank for clearance has i will like us to finalize the rent as soon as possible. And i will appreciate if you can get back to me with an Acknowledgement letter as soon as you’ve receive it,i will be looking forward to read back from you very soon.”
    All this is very confusing and it sounds like a copy/paste to me, kind of hook.

  • Sometime ago I saw a job for manager of horse farm in NZ. Farm owner name lambert cohen 410 , clevelnd Waka Waka road auckland NZ, they r demands 630 doller for visa fees, and I pay that on 10/11/2014 and now they r demands for BTA 4000nz dollers , I think its a scam .

  • Joe says:

    I am asking “Lonely in Love” if she would answer me. Don’t be lonely. If you want a friend. I am here. I to was scammed. I am real and have a job. I will not ask for money from you. Just please talk to me and let me ease your pain as well as mine. You can check me out. I am willing to provide any information you want to see who I am. Thank you from Joe.

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