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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

E-mail Scam: Avoid Green Card Lottery Fraud

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(en español/Spanish version)

Have you or someone you know recently received an e-mail claiming you’ve won the Green Card lottery and asking you to send or wire money? Don’t fall for it – the sender is trying to steal your money!

One particularly common fraud email asks recipients to wire $879 per applicant/family member via Western Union to an individual (the name varies) in London, United Kingdom. Below are two recent examples:

fraud email sample

fraud email sample

The fraudsters use a variety of street addresses in London. Those seen often include: 73 Queens Avenue, London, N20 0JB or 30 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LA or 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE (the address of the US Embassy in London). They have also varied the amount requested per victim - and are likely to continue to do so. Most commonly they've requested $879, $819 and $880.

The fraudsters also continually vary the email address they use, each chosen to impersonate the U.S. State Department. We have seen addresses ending in @kccdv.org, @greencard-org.com, @usafis-org.com, @usa-dv-gov.org, @diplomats.com, @usa.com, @usa-lottery-gov.org, @visa-gov-us.org, @post.com, @dv-state.com, and there are likely many more false addresses.

UPDATE: As of October 2011, we've observed the fraudsters requesting victims to fax a copy of their Western Union receipt to +44 207 691 7968. Do NOT fax any information!

How to Report Fraudulent Emails

If you receive this type of email, do NOT respond to the sender. Forward any fraud email requesting you wire money via Western Union to spoof@westernunion.com or report it by calling 1-800-448-1492. Also report any fraud emails to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

Red Flags and General Traits of Fraud Emails

Fraudsters will frequently e-mail potential victims posing as State Department or other government officials with requests to wire or transfer money online as part of a “processing fee.” You should NEVER transfer money to anyone who e-mails you claiming that you have won the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery or been selected for a Green Card. The Department of State does NOT notify successful DV applicants by letter or email.

These fraudulent e-mails are designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The senders often use phony e-mail addresses and logos designed to make them look more like official government correspondence. One easy way to tell that an email is a fraud is that it does not end with a “.gov”.

For more information on this type of fraud, please see the Department of State’s fraud warning and the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer alert on the matter.

For more information about the Diversity Visa Program, see http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ and review the Department of State’s Travel.State.Gov DV Instructions webpage.