Fake Green Card Lottery Could Cost Immigrant Hopefuls Hundreds

Internet scams have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, with many incidents involving unsuspecting computers users who are tricked into revealing their passwords and logins. Now, it seems, phishing scams have targeted immigrants.

It was recently discovered that many individuals who had applied for the legitimate U.S. green card lottery had been sent a notification from a phishing scam site that alerted them they had won, reported Fox News. Some individuals who received the malicious email were able to identify it as a scam before becoming a victim.

“I was overwhelmed because I’ve been in the [green card] lottery for years,” Ian Jopson, who currently lives in the United States on a valid work visa, told Fox News. After seeing that the site would cost him $900 in processing fees, however, he said the warning bells began to go off.

Green card hopefuls who receive a similar message can see whether the claim is legitimate by looking at the URL of the site; messages from the government will end in “.gov,” not “.com” or “.org.”

Government officials have been the culprit of local green card scams, as well. In Vermont, one local resident has been arranging marriages between people in search of a green card since 2005, according to Northeastern Initiative for Investigative Reporting. Fraudulent marriages pose a large problem for immigration officers, who often have a difficult time distinguishing and investigating which marriages are arranged for the sole purpose of gaining a permanent residency card. This is partially due to many immigration offices being understaffed.

“They showed no signs of affection,” Brattleboro’s town clerk Annette Cappy told Northeastern. “Often it was as if they didn’t know each other.”

Recent investigations found that 32 marriages were arranged by Brazilian native Helen Knoller, who currently lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.