Because obtaining a Green Card is coveted, it sets the stage for unscrupulous criminals to prey upon unsuspecting potential immigrants. There are many ways this can happen:
Telephone Scams – Scammers have been known to call potential victims, claiming to be from USCIS, and threaten them with deportation unless they make arrangements to transfer money and make a payment to the caller. At other times, a scammer will call and request personal information, such as a Social Security number, passport number or other private information and then request payment to correct government records indicating that information is shown as inaccurate. USCIS officials never make this kind of request over the phone. It is a scam! Hang up and report it.
Notario Publico – Some individuals represent themselves as attorneys and agree to offer legal advice on immigration, green cards and other related matters. The truth is, these “notario publicos” have no adequate qualifications and will often charge for advice that is false or misleading, victimizing people who seek them out. This can lead to serious implications for immigrants who may have applications denied, deported or subject to criminal liability for unknowlingly filing false information.
Check Your Eligibility
Local Businesses – Green Card scams can take on a decidedly local flavor when fake advertisements are run in community papers promising help for immigration matters or in entering a Green Card lottery. This is done for a fee of some kind, with an increased chance of being selected as part of the pitch. The Green Card lottery is totally random and there is little that can be done to increase the odds of winning.
Online Websites and Emails – There are a plethora of sites that promise help in entering Green Card lotteries, promising to increase your chances of being picked in exchange for a fee. Other online sites will send you a message telling you that you’ve won and ask for money. And still other sites may trick you by appearing to be an official U.S. government website. The only thing to remember is that entering the lottery is free and completely random. Stay away from anyone promising anything other than this.
Visa Lotteries – Many times, after a Diversity Lottery has been conducted, an email may arrive announcing an entrant has won one of the lottery slots. The email also instructs the “winner” to send money immediately to claim their spot. This is a flat out deception. In the actual lottery, if an entry is selected, winners are advised to pay an application fee to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate cashier in their country when they go for their scheduled Green Card interview.
In all instances where a scam or fraud is suspected, the person who was contacted should report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission which protects consumers from someone who falsely claims to be from a business or the government. You can file a report at the FTC website.