The U.S. Embassy receive inquiries every day from people who have been defrauded for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were their friends or loved ones. Internet scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money.
These fraudulent schemes can include lotteries, on-line dating services, inheritance notices, work permits/job offers, bank over payments, or even make it appear that you are helping a friend in trouble.
Do NOT believe that you have won a lottery you never entered or inherited money from someone you’ve never met or heard of.
Do NOT believe any offers (lottery, inheritance, etc.) that require a fee to be paid up front.
Do NOT provide personal or financial information to businesses you don’t know or haven’t verified.
In many cases, scammers troll the Internet for victims, and spend weeks or months building a relationship. Once they have gained their victim’s trust, the scammers create a false situation and ask for money. Scammers can be very clever and deceptive, creating sad and believable stories that will make you want to send them money.
Before you send funds, check to see if you recognise any of the following signs, and realize that you may be a potential victim of a scam:
You only know your friend or fiance online and may never have met in person. In some cases, the victim has even believed he or she has married the scammer by proxy.
Photographs of the scammer show a very attractive person, and appear to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or photo studio. If they provide you with a copy of their passport or visa, you can always contact the U.S. embassy in the country where the passport or visa was issued to verify the validity of the document.
The scammer’s luck is incredibly bad-he/she is in a car crash, or arrested, or mugged, or beaten, or hospitalized. Close family members are dead or unable to assist. Sometimes, the scammer claims to have a young child overseas who is ill or hospitalized.
You have sent money for visas or plane tickets but they can’t seem to make it to their destinations, citing detention by immigration officials, or other reasons that prevent them from traveling.
Beware of anyone who requests funds for a BTA, or Basic Travel Allowance, as a requirement to depart another country for the United States. There is no such thing as a BTA.
In other cases, your Internet friend will claim to need a travel allowance, or travel money, to be able to travel to the United States. Again, there is no such requirement under U.S. law.
The scammer claims to have been born and raised in the United States, but uses poor grammar and spelling indicative of a non-native English speaker.
Although the scammer may claim to be in the United Kingdom, for example, he or she may ask that the money be sent to an account in another country. Alternatively, the scammer may state he or she is in a third country but request that funds be sent to the United Kingdom for example.