Beware of Diversity Visa scams

The U.S. Embassy in London has received thousands of inquiries from people who are victims of a worldwide scam involving the Diversity Visa (DV) program, popularly known as the Green Card lottery. The scammers behind these fraudulent messages pose as U.S. government representatives to encourage unsuspecting recipients to pay money to them.

Scammers often use the Embassy’s address or the name of an actual person at the U.S. Embassy in London to try to make their messages look more official. However, this would never happen if you really had been selected via the Diversity Visa program. The U.S. Government will NOT ask you to send Diversity Visa fees to named individuals or to the Embassy by bank transfer, services such as Western Union or PayPal or any other means.

The only way to apply for the Diversity Visa program is through the official U.S. Department of State website during the specified registration period which takes place annually in the Fall (Autumn). Registrants can only check the outcome of their entry via the official status check website in May of the following year. If you didn’t register for the program, you should find it strange if you have been contacted about ‘winning’ it.

Importantly, individuals whose entries are selected through the the legitimate Diversity Visa program do not win a visa. More applicants are selected than there are visas available because not everyone is found to be eligible for a visa. Only a consular officer can decide if an applicant qualifies for a visa following a visa interview. This means that it is not possible for anyone to credibly promise that you have “won” a visa by email, text, instant message, or letter.

Other warning signs of a visa lottery scam include promise of a job offer or housing. The real Diversity Visa program relates only to applying for a visa.