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US worry over fraudulent DV Visa Lottery activities

Sep 28, 2011, 12:52 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The new consular officer at the US Embassy in Banjul has expressed his worry about what he called “fraudulent activities” by unscrupulous elements posing as genuine representatives of the US State Department, and sending messages to individuals claiming they have won the diversity immigrant visa.

Andy Utsching, who was speaking at a press conference organized by the Embassy yesterday at the American Corner, said this is done by sending emails, most of which are spam.

The press conference was held to announce the coming of the 2013 diversity immigrant visa program, which is expected to start on 4th October, and ends on the 5th of November, 2011.

According to him, some websites may try to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking that they are official websites, and may even contact people by email to lure them to their offer.

He told journalists that such websites may attempt to require an individual to pay for services and information about immigration procedures that are free on the US Department of State website or through consulate websites.

“Other websites may require you pay for a service you are unlikely to receive, in an attempt to steal your money,” he said, warning people not to send in their monies.

“The E- DV entries are submitted on the internet, on the official US government E-DV website at www.dvlottery.state.gov. 

“The department will not send notification letters to the selected applicants. The US government has never sent e-mail to notify individuals they have selected, and there are no plans to use e-mail for this purpose for the DV-2013 program,” Utsching further added.

He revealed that those selected will only receive e-mail communications from the department directing them to check their interview appointment details on entrant status check.

These notifications, he stated, will not contain information on the actual appointment date and time, nor will they provide any entry status information.

He also made it clear that only internet sites ending  with “gov” domain suffix are official U.S. government websites, noting that many other government websites (e.g. those that use the suffixes “.com,” “.org,” or “.net”) provide immigration and visa related information and services.

Regardless of the content of non-governmental websites, Consular Andy explained, the US Department of State does not endorse, recommend, or sponsor any information or material shown on these other websites.

He added further that the entrant status check will be the sole means by which DV-2013 entrants are notified of their selection; provided instructions on how to proceed with their application; and, notified of their immigration appointment date and time.

He also told journalists that the laws require that every entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have, within the past five years, two years work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

The press conference, which was geared towards providing the media with detailed information about the program, and the necessary deadlines for onward distribution to the general public, was chaired by Zainab O. Jah, public diplomacy assistant at the Embassy.