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Washington warns of false emails sent to green card applicants

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For many immigrants in Washington, D.C., and around the country, receiving their green card is the realization of a dream. But the process to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States is often long and requires a great deal of patience. Unfortunately, some people have recently tried to exploit immigrants' desire to obtain a green card.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into a purported scam where some non-governmental entity has sent emails to green card applicants informing them that their applications have been selected in the government's visa lottery system. At first glance, the emails appear genuine. They contain a deceptively realistic representation of the State Department's seal and general website appearance.

The emails are demonstrably false, however. They come from a .com address instead of the .gov address that is appended to communications from the government. In addition, the email demands payment--one man received an email requesting $900--in exchange for the green card. To debunk the scam, the State Department assured green card applicants that it does not request money at this stage in the process. Immigrants seeking green cards must only pay a fee when they first send in their visa application.

To prevent confusion, the State Department has paused communication with green card applicants concerning the visa lottery program. The FBI has therefore advised people who receive emails about the lottery to be wary of the potential for fraud. The State Department also noted that the government protects prospective permanent residents by not sending them unsolicited emails about the lottery. Instead, it requires them to access its secure website to find out the status of their applications.

Source: FoxNews.com, "Green card phishing scam preys upon visa hopefuls," Perry Chiaramonte, March 28, 2012.

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