I just received an email with the very blaring subject line “CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE WON USA GREEN CARD VISA.” If I was hoping to get a U.S. visa, I would be excited to receive such an email. However, it’s very obviously a scam and you should not fall for an email like this.
How do I know it’s a scam? Plenty of ways:
1) I did not apply for the DV Diversity Visa lottery. The only way to enter the lottery is to apply through the official channels. There is no other method of applying and no other method of being selected.
2) The return email address is email@example.com and the reply email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. No way would an official State Department email come from one of those email addresses (the State Department is @state.gov). Furthermore, the State Department itself warns:
The Department of State, Kentucky Consular Center will not e-mail notifications to DV entrants informing them of their winning entry. No other organization or private company is authorized by the Department of State to notify Diversity Visa lottery applicants of their winning entry, or the next steps in the processing of applying for their visa.
3) It asks me for money. First of all, the amounts of money indicated in the email are incorrect. According to the State Department’s website, the visa application fee for a DV lottery selectee is $440.
But more importantly, you will never be asked to wire money at all, and you certainly will not be asked to wire money to a private individual. The Trinidad Express Ask the Consul column says:
There is no fee to enter the DV lottery. You do not need an agent or an attorney to complete your entry or application. DV lottery winners pay fees only to the US Embassy on the day of the visa interview. Even if you have won the lottery, do not pay fees to anyone but the US Embassy.
For student visa applicants there is a separate SEVIS fee, which can be paid using Western Union Quick Pay, but again, you would never be asked to wire money to an individual.
4) Bad grammar, misspellings, odd punctuation and other errors.
5) And most importantly, as soon as I received the email I did a quick Google search on the name of the individual it supposedly came from, a Mr. Tony Brooke, Secretary General US Consulate Kentucky. Guess what the entire first page of results was? Visa forums talking about how this email is a scam.
So there you go. Now you know not to trust this visa scam, and you’ll be ready to deal with the next one that arrives in your email inbox.