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The capital of the Mari-El republic, Yoshkar-Ola, is 500 miles east of Moscow and is still suffering from the collapse of its manufacturing industry after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
Today it is estimated that as many as one in 100 residents in the city is involved in dating scams.
I can wait to be noble and honest in my next life." In one case, a dozen British men were fooled by a picture of a model talking on the telephone while sitting on a bed.
All of them hail from the far-flung outpost of Yoshkar-Ola, close to the Ural Mountains.
One willowy beauty is a hard-up nurse who is desperate to leave her impoverished homeland and start a new life with a man in the West. Another is a medical student, though she more closely resembles a nymph-like model from the pages of a glossy magazine.
The 28-year-old was earning some extra money for his classes at university in Russia.
After the matter was reported to Russian police, he was jailed.