Beware of Green Card Lottery Scams25 Aug 2006
Every year, there are unscrupulous individuals and organizations that try to use the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Diversity Visa Lottery Program to take advantage of foreign nationals. This year is no exception. A recent inquiry was made about certain lottery winner notifications that are clearly fraudulent. To protect MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers from these scams, we bring the following points to your attention, which should help in detecting fraud.
DOS Uses U.S. Mail
There are certain things that distinguish the genuine lottery communications from fraudulent ones. First, the DOS uses regular U.S. mail to notify lottery winners. They do not use eMail. Additionally, government eMail and website addresses all end with (.gov), though it is possible for scam artists to spoof IDs to make their mailings appear to originate from governmental eMail addresses. Therefore, be watchful of eMails that sound suspicious as well as those that sound too good to be true!
Only Lottery Applicants Become Eligible
No one “wins” the DOS lottery without applying for the lottery program. Thus, if no application was made, notification about winning cannot be genuine. Moreover, many people are not eligible to enter. The lottery is only for individuals from countries with low rates of immigration. Those from numerous countries, including India, Canada, and the UK, are not eligible to file the visa lottery application.
Specific Communication with Case Number
A genuine notification is addressed to an individual applicant. While it is a form letter, it contains specific identifying information, including the applicant’s name and a region-specific case number. This is not a generic, mass communication asking an individual to provide his/her name.
Funds Payable to Government by Money Orders
Unscrupulous originators of these fraudulent communications are after one thing: your money. The genuine winners are required to pay a lottery fee and filing fees. These are sent to an official government office, however, and made payable to a government payee. The exact procedures for this are changed from time to time, but in no event is money ever to be sent to an individual or a non-government office. While there are occasionally government fees that have to be paid by money order, one is never requested to pay fees by wire transfer or funds-transferring services.
The individuals and/or organizations perpetrating these scams are engaging in a number of criminal acts. While they may profit in the shortrun, there have been prosecutions of those who engaged in fraud in connection with the visa lottery. Do not allow yourself to be victimized by such a scheme.