An internet scam is victimizing people who want to obtain a U.S. visa, NBC Miami recently reported.
According to the source, thousands of visa applicants have received an email telling them they have won a U.S. Department of State lottery and will be provided a visa – as soon as they wire $900 through Western Union.
Carmen Pino, a worker with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, told NBC Miami the email is a fraud, and might indicate the computer system tracking visa applications has been compromised by a hacker.
One recipient of the email, Venezualan Hely Santilez, told the source that the email asked for details of his family, and for money. He said he was suspicious of the message and did not send money because in his past travels to the United States, he always paid the U.S. Embassy directly for his visas.
The Department of State reports there were 3,564 cases of visa and passport fraud reported in 2005. Penalties for visa fraud range from 10 years imprisonment for a first offense to 25 years, if the fraud was related to international terrorism.