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Visa lottery application to live and work in the US? Beware of another engagement bait scam

IN SHORT: While many young people on the African continent are keen to make a life in the United States, they would be advised to steer clear of this “registration portal”.

“UNITED STATES Visa Lottery Application Form 2022/2023 Is Out,” reads a message posted on Facebook and WhatsApp, and circulating in African countries.

“The U.S DV Visa Lottery online Application Form 2022/2023 registration exercise is the quickest way for all foreigners interested in immigrating legally to live, Study and work in UNITED STATES,” the message reads.

It further states that the “Resident Card Lottery” programme, also known as the “Diversity Immigration Visa Lottery”, is a chance for 45,000 people from all over the world to become permanent and legal residents of the United States.

It claims that this will enable them to live, work and study in the country.

“Interested Applicants are to visit Online Registration Portal. The Winners Will Be Drawn From Random Selection And There Is No Cost To Register,” it instructs.

It then links to a website where people can supposedly apply for the visa lottery.

The diversity immigrant visa programme, or DV program, often called the green card lottery, is a legitimate effort run by the US state department. It has strict criteria for applicants, and the application window is usually only open for a month or so, in October and November of each year. 

However, fraudsters pretending to represent the US government are so prevalent that the department dedicates a webpage to advice on how to avoid being scammed.

So is this website legit? We checked.


Engagement bait scam

When clicking on the link, our computer antivirus programme immediately warned us that this was a malicious link.

We opened the link nevertheless to find out if the offer is legit.

It asks the applicant to fill in their name, phone number, email address, country of origin and to specify their gender.

Suspiciously, regardless of whether you fill in these details correctly, mismatch the details or just click “apply” without entering any details, you still get a message of congratulations and are led to the next stage. 

The stage asks for English language proficiency, employment status and age. 

After filling in the details, a message pops up which reads: “You may get the U.S.A Resident Card Lottery Form" with only one step, kindly click the "SHARE TO CONTINUE" button below to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so That They Can Aslo Benefit.”

Applicants have also been warned that if they do not complete the “sharing to WhatsApp” step correctly, they will not get the US green card registration form.

This is an example of engagement bait. These are usually social media posts that ask people to interact by liking, commenting or sharing. It increases the post’s reach but there is no reward. They may also attempt to steal valuable personal information.

To help protect yourself against online fraudsters, read our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them. And only follow links you can verify, particularly when it comes to official government processes like visa applications.

Ronald Ibrahim produced this report as a mentee under Africa Check’s mentorship programme funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

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