Scam Alert: US Department of State Visa Lottery Winner Email

Woohooo today is my lucky day: I won the Green Card Lottery despite being ineligible!!!!

Below is a duplication of the textual content of the very official looking email I received today from [email protected] ([email protected]) telling me that all my dreams had come true and I have won a visa to live in the good ol’ US of A.

My email spam detector wrote the email off as “Appears to be advance fee fraud (Nigerian 419)”. I completely agree with its assessment.

The email states “You are one of the 50,000 winners selected by the computer random draw from the 12.1 million entries registered in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program . The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. ”

Unfortunately I come from a country whose residents are ineligible to enter the Green Card Lottery. I would definitely have applied were Britain’s eligible to do so.

The email goes on to request its lucky recipient send an $819 processing fee to one Richard Miller via Western Union money transfer.

$819 is a lot of money to many people in this world, especially those living in countries where residents are eligible to play the Green Card Lottery. It is mostly for their benefit that I have chosen to post the entire email here.

If you receive a similar email to the one printed below here then please take note of the sender’s email address. The proper website for the US Department of State (Dos) is http://www.state.gov and official emails from DoS  employees will end in @state.gov such as the one used for the National Visa Center which is [email protected] (compare it to the one that sent the replicated email of [email protected] which attempts to mimic the DoS visa site sub-domain name of travel.state.gov). More DoS contact details are here. The email even hotlinks images from the official DoS website. Plus, as Aloha Dan commented below, “the Department of State doesn’t send email confirmations.. you must check the webpage with the number you got when you applied…”

I’ve forwarded the email to the US Department of State asking them to appropriately deal with its sender (or senders). I hope the perpetrators get a nice cushy room in a US jail where they will be screwed as good and hard as they’ve screwed over others, and then some.

Thanks to a comment left by The Beacon, we now know that the correct places to report these scam emails to are “the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). If the email requests you wire money via Western Union, you may also report it to Western Union by emailing [email protected] or by calling 1-800-448-1492.” The quoted information comes directly from the USCIS blog (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service).

Update 14th October 2011:

Please see the bootnote at the bottom of this post. I think I know how the scammers got my details but I need your help to prove it.

Update 25th November 2011:

Visit the below URL to find out  more about US Green Card lottery under the Diversity Program:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html

Check your status and apply to enter the Green Card lottery at this page:

https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/

Good Luck!

The full email text

Dear xxxxxx ,

You are one of the 50,000 winners selected by the computer random  draw from the 12.1 million entries registered in the Diversity Immigrant  Visa Program . The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States  congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States  Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery.

Winner Details

Acceptance Date:  Friday 15th of July 2011 02:32:33 AM
Winner: xxxxxx
Country: United Kingdom

Diversity Visa Details

With the Diversity Visa (also known as Green Card) you will enjoy all the  advantages and benefits of a U.S. permanent resident, including health and  education benefits, and employment opportunities along with guidance in  your new country, orientation sessions and programs to integrate into  mainstream American society. Once received you can use it at any time you  want to move in the United States or just travel. The visa must be renewed  after 10 years.

U.S. Government helps you with the accommodation and offers you Health  Insurance (Freedom HSA Direct Individual Health insurance for 1 year),  Dwelling(Apartment in any city you prefer, 1 bedroom for 3 months ), a  guaranteed job(in the field that you are are currently qualified so you can  start working even from the first week you arrive in the United States and  get paid as U.S citizen. ) and education (for U.S. Students or Higher  Education through EducationUSA. It includes transfer to a U.S college or  Univeristy so you can continue your educational study. More details can be  found at http://educationusa.state.gov/ .)

Processing fees

Type of Residence Card: United States Permanent Resident Card
Status: Granted! – Waiting for payment of processing fee
Amount (per person): $819

Processing fees: Included
Total: $819

Although the Diversity Visa participation was free, the law and  regulations require to every diversity visa winner to pay a visa processing  fee of $819 . The Diversity Visa(Green Card) is guaranteed upon receiving  the payment.

The per person fee for each Diversity Visa is $819, payable in U.S.  dollars or equivalent of your local currency. This $819 fee is the only fee  a winner needs to pay throughout the entire relocation process.

Accompanying family members(wife/husband, fiancee, brothers, sisters,  childrens, cousins)  may be included in the program and their visas will be  provided at the same time with yours so you can travel/move together in the  same time. However the fees must be paid per person and each member(e.g  wife, brother, parents, childrens, cousin) must pay $819. There is no  discount for childrens.

PURPOSE: The U.S. Department of State uses the fee payment primarily to  process your visa related documents and verify your identity.

Visa Payment processing instructions

The fees must be paid using Western Union money transfer and will be  processed by the U.S. embassy in the United Kingdom. Western Union is a leading provider of International person-to-person money transfer. With more than 150 years experience and  245,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories, Western  Union is recognized for sending money quickly, reliably, and safety.

You can send the payment in U.S. dollars or equivalent of your local  currency.

Click on the following link to find the nearest Western Union agency and  send the fees payment :

Find Western Union Agency

If you are unable to find a Western Union agency near your location, you  may ask a relative or friend to pay the fee on your behalf.

After you find a Western Union agency you need to go with cash money, an  identity card(e.g passport or national identity card) and send the payment  to the U.S. embassy agent address in United Kingdom:

Name : Richard  Miller
Address: 24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 1AE
United Kingdom

The payment must be sent to the above U.S. embassy agent address in United  Kingdom because the U.S. Department of State decided this based on the  diplomatic relations with your country.

After you send the payment follow the next steps

a) Email copy/scan of the Western Union receipt at  [email protected]
b) Email at [email protected] with the
following details (you can find them on the money transfer
receipt):

1) Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN):
2) Exact sender’s name on file with Western Union:
3) Exact sender’s address on file with Western Union:
4) Exact receiver’s name on file with Western Union:

5) Amount sent:

Then wait for the confirmation that the payment was received.

Within 72 hours, you will receive a confirmation via email with your Case  Number/Confirmation Number and exact date and time(approx. 2 days) of the  final interview. Upon successful interview you will receive your documents  and travel information to move in the United States. Under no circumstances  your visa status won’t be affected by the interview.

Please Note!

The payment must be sent via Western Union no later than July 30, 2011. You  are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last day to pay. Heavy demand  may result in system delays.

Under no circumstances can diversity visas be issued or adjustments  approved after this date, nor can family members obtain diversity visas to  follow-to-join the principal applicant in the U.S. after this date.

The visa processing fee(US$ 819) is mandatory for each person and the U.S.  Government doesn’t offer any discount, loan or exception.

You have been selected winner of the Diversity Visa lottery so the visa is  guaranteed upon receiving the payment fees on time.

A hard copy of this letter will be mailed to your postal address upon  receiving the payment fees.

Please be advised that even through you are a winner of Diversity Visa your  Case Number/Confirmation Number will be provided only after you send the  payment confirmation of the fees. Please do not contact us to ask for the  Case Number/Confirmation Number.

If it would be necessary to contact the U.S. Department of state YOU MUST  ALWAYS REFER TO YOUR NAME. The email address is [email protected]

CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT: AUTHORITIES: The information asked for  on this form is requested pursuant to Section 222 of the Immigration and  Nationality Act. Section 222(f) provides that the records of the Department  of State and of diplomatic and consular offices of the United States  pertaining to the issuance and refusal of visas or permits to enter the  United States shall be considered confidential and shall be used only for  the formulation, amendment, administration, or enforcement of the  immigration, nationality, and other laws of the United States. Certified  copies of such records may be made available to a court provided the court  certifies that the information contained in such records is needed in a  case pending before the court.

Good luck to anyone who has applied to be entered into the Green Card Lottery. Please be vigilant and confirm authenticity of any replies you receive because it would be a shame if your dreams were dashed by one of these pathetic fraudsters.

Bootnote

Did you apply for a Green Card through usagc.org? I know I did so about 2 years ago, before I knew I was ineligible. This is the only place I can think of that had my details as the scammers have them.

I received a promotional email through tiptopjob.com inviting me to apply for a Green Card via the services offered by usagc.org. If you completed your application form through USAGC then it’s likely the scammers hacked the USAGC database to get hold of our details.

Please think back and let me know if you have ever applied for a Green Card through USAGC.

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