In one case, a member of a gang posed as a nurse using a photograph of the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet dancer Anastasia Volochkova.
One professional British man was so taken with the photograph that he sent "her" several thousand pounds, spurred on by a sob story from the nurse about her disabled mother who needed nursing care while she came to visit him in Britain.
"I'm very caring person and loving, I will do for you everything to make you feel good."I want to wake up in the morning early and prepare food for you.
I want to meet you in the evening when you come from your work and kiss you tender, to hold you and to show you all my love." It sounded just too good to be true and, of course, it was.
The photo was actually of Alsou, a Russian pop star and daughter of an oil tycoon "I was enraged that my photograph served the rotten purposes of these swindlers," she said."I wanted to take action myself at first when I discovered the scam."But then I realised our law-enforcement bodies could do it far better than me.
"This is my advice: those who prefer virtual romances should be much more prudent.
But with the returns that can be made on these scams, the pair are likely to be back at work as soon as they get parole.
They never saw the money or heard from the women again. In a final humiliating twist, they found out, usually far too late, that many of the sensuous "women" with whom they had been corresponding were actually men - part of one of the many sinister Russian mafia rings making a fortune out of such scams.
Her pictures were simply ripped off and she was dubbed "Anna Safina".
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.
In an email to one British man, Anna wrote: "I wish I could be with you.
I'm sure that together we will have a lot of fun and spend great time!
Volochkova herself, who left the Bolshoi Ballet in 2003, is now happily married in Moscow and horrified at her pictures being used by the scammers. Fantasy: Glamorous 23-year-old 'Anna Safina' promises 'to do everything to make you feel good'.