America is often referred to as ‘the melting pot’ it is a country where people from all over the world come together. There are also millions more across the world dreaming of coming to the ‘land of milk and honey’ to take advantage of the vast opportunities. This dream also creates opportunities for scammers who are waiting on the sidelines hoping to cash in.
I recently received an email that congratulated me because I was randomly chosen as the winner of an online DV lottery program, ran by the U.S. Department of State. There were several flaws within that email that drew red flags and would lead most people to rule it out as a scam. For example, it named me as a winner but did not refer to me by my name, just simply as “Dear Winner.” Second, it asked me to send my contact address and to scan my picture and forward this information to a deceptive email address that ended with ‘.firstname.lastname@example.org.’ For some reason, I doubt the state department is conducting business using yahoo email accounts.
There were some elements, however, that might lead a few to think this email might be genuine. For example, the email refers to a valid United States government address along with a government website. It even asked me to send additional documents to an authentic immigration services address. So I was left with some questions. Are these scammers successful in exploiting the dreams of individuals? What can be done to safeguard individuals from becoming victims from these scams? The scammers did not just ask for documents, but they also asked for me to send close to one thousand US dollars for ‘faster-processing.’
In an attempt to find these answers and to raise awareness within our community, Tsehainy.com reached out and spoke to Steve Royster, Spokesman for Bureau of Consular Affairs at the United States Department of State.
Mr. Royster stated that the Department of State became aware of this problem about a year ago, and noticed these emails are starting to resurface once again. He mentioned cases in which people have become victims of such email scams and stated people have to be smart and always verify similar issues by calling the U.S. Department. It is best to keep in mind what Mr. Royster stated, “the U.S. Department doesn’t run such DV programs via online.”
At the end of the day, it is up to us to use our common sense and exchange information such as this amongst each other.
Below are the exchanges of email.