Hi guys, the Better Business Bureau recently issued a scam alert warning the community that scam artists posing as US government officials are luring would-be immigrants with the prospect of receiving one of the 50,000 visas granted by the Diversity Visa Program, otherwise known as the green card lottery. Although the State Department suspended routine visa services at all embassies and consulates back in March because of Covid-19, with all of the pandemic confusion scammers wave not passed up the opportunity to prey on unsuspecting victims.
Here’s how the scam works: first the victim receives a bogus email that look like it came from an official US immigration service or agency. While most recipients might recognize these emails as fake, clearly they are good enough to fool some people.
The emails ask for information in order to complete the victim’s so-called visa application. They are asked to provide personal identifiable information (PII) such as name, date of birth, address, marital status, phone number, work history and passport photo. The BBB has stated that obtaining PII and the victim’s money is the end goal of these scammers – they have no intention of ever helping anyone apply for a visa. So how can these visa scams be avoided? That’s the subject of this week’s takeaway!
There are a lot of fake sites out there that have been intentionally built to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking they are real U.S. government websites. They’re designed to appear official, often including images of the American flag, Capitol building, White House and Statue of Liberty. What these websites and email links are missing is the .gov suffix on the website addresses. Remember that anything that does not end with .gov should be considered suspect and it’re pretty easy to spot by hovering over the link in the email body or checking the url at the top of your web browser.
In this case, those applying for a visa should go directly to the website: https://dvlottery.state.gov to apply and check the status of their application.
And one last thing – be wary of any individuals who claim to provide assistance with immigration visa applications, claiming they it can improve the chances of being selected. Sorry, that’s just not how it works.
Living in the United States is a privilege that many people from around the world would like to have. Let’s keep people safe scammers trying to take advantage of them!
Stay safe out there.