Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) Program makes 50,000 immigrant visas available to those from selected countries. BBB is warning immigrants that scammers are posing as the U.S. government and promising U.S. Visas in exchange for a fee.
A Case Western University student told BBB that she was online trying to apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery when she reached a website that she thought was managed by the U.S. Government. The website, www.usadiversitylottery.com, includes pictures of the President, American flag, and U.S. Seal, which made her think the site was legitimate.
To apply for her Visa, she was required to provide her name, birth date, gender, birth country, address, phone number, email, work history, and marital status. She was also asked to upload her passport photos. A fee of $99 was also required which she provided via her debit card.
Usadiversitylottery.com shows up in Google results with this title: THE OFFICIAL USA DV2019 GREEN CARD LOTTERY. It is easy to see how this student was misled. The website was created in 2008 and registered through a proxy service, consequently, the actual location and owner of the site are not public.
BBB offers these tips to recognize fraud:
Ceck for look-alikes. A website may appear to be official by using patriotic images of the U.S. flag, Seal, Capital, Statue of Liberty, etc. Proceed with caution if the website does not end with “.gov.”
Apply with caution. The only official way to apply for the DV program is directly through the official U.S. Department of State website. The Department of State has posted a warning about DV fraud at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/fraud.html.
Don't give out your bank account information to anyone you don't know. Fees for a Diversity Visa are paid for at the time of your scheduled appointment. The U.S. government will never ask you to send payment in advance by check, money order, or wire transfer.
Use caution when sharing your personal information. Never divulge bank account numbers, credit card account numbers, social security number, etc., to a stranger or over the phone or online.
File a complaint. If you are a victim of this scam, visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.