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Visa lottery by the US? No, ignore engagement bait scam website

IN SHORT: The US is issuing visas to eligible people and there’s no age limit. All you have to do is follow these few steps to secure yours. This is the promise made in this Facebook page, but it’s not true. It's a scam.

“AMERICA VISA LOTTERY 2023/2024 APPLICATION FORM IS OPEN,” reads a message circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp in several African countries.

The message also says: “The America Government Announced Plan to Issue over 55,000 Visa plus Permanent Resident Cards. Applications are now Open. Students, Workers and Families are Eligible to apply with no Age Limit. Try your luck today you might be selected.”

The post then links to an amateurish website where interested Facebook users can supposedly apply for the visa lottery.

The link has been posted here, here, here, here, here and here.

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.

Africa Check has debunked many similar fraudulent promises over the years

But is this offer legit? We checked.


Signs of scam

Africa Check attempted to open the link to the website but our computer antivirus software immediately warned that it was deceptive.

We took the risk – not recommended – and opened the site.

We were then asked to fill in our name, email address, country of origin and gender.

The next stage required us to validate our name and choose the type of visa we wanted. The options included student and work visas. 

After filling in the details, we were congratulated and told that we qualified to be in the final stage of the visa lottery enrolment process.

But there is a catch. We were asked to share the link with five groups or 15 friends on WhatsApp for us to be redirected to the visa form page. 

This, it said, will happen if the green verification bar is filled to prove that we did as instructed.

This is a clear example of engagement bait. These are social media posts that ask people to like, comment or share the message. This in turn increases the post’s reach but ultimately offers no reward, and certainly no visa. 

Such links may also attempt to steal the user’s personal information.

To help protect yourself against online fraudsters, read our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.

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