A scam new to Costa Rica promises foreigners U.S. residency and makes strong use of State Department logos and text.
The scam arrives as an email that says the recipient has won a U.S. visa in the diversity lottery.
All that is needed is a $879 per person payment by Western Union to someone in London.
The scam is timely because the U.S. State Department announced Tuesday that applications will be accepted online for some 50,000 slots for persons from historically under-represented immigrations. The only trouble is that 2014 winners will not be known until next year.
The diversity program scammers made heavy use of what appears to be material lifted from a State Department Web
page. The email purports to come from the department and carries the department’s logo.
The emails come from this Web domain: ag-dvlp.com That site has been identified as a scammer by the U.S. diplomats in Serbia and London. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also appears to be aware of the scam.
Karin King, at a press briefing Tuesday, was critical of third parties who exact a fee from helping people enter the lottery, but a wire service report did not mention any concerns by her about online scams. She is with the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C.
The recipient of the fake email in Costa Rica was someone who has contacted third parties in the past with the possibility of applying for the diversity lottery.
That is probably how scammers obtained the email address.