Published: October 7, 2011
U.S. immigration law consumers, whether individuals or businesses, are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to internet fraud. The “individual” immigration law consumer is usually seeking to facilitate immigration status or entry into the U.S. for a spouse, future spouse, or other family member. The “business”, or employment based immigration law consumer usually has its sights set on conferring immigration status on a valued, or to-be valued employee, or facilitate their entry into the U.S. The immigration law consumer presents a wide spectrum of traits, ranging from eager and excited to desperate and fantasy-driven. And when it comes to solutions to problems these populations present – especially in the family-based immigration law context -, the internet is there to tell it anything it wants to hear, with the more money being charged, the more likely the audience will be inclined to buy what’s for sale.
A common device being seen lately is the internet site, or unsolicited email, seeking to convince its customer that it’s related to the U.S. government. One blatant example involves an email being sent to unsuspecting foreign nationals across the U.S. and globe advising them they have won the U.S. visa lottery, and that a significant processing fee should be immediately forwarded to a government-sounding location for them to have a chance at a U.S. green card. No doubt the scheme will likely pay off because the audience it is preying upon, no matter their level or education or common sense, includes the desperate and fantasy driven demographic referred to above. If one really wants to believe something to be true, and needs it to be true, it’s truly amazing to watch how far that person will go to convince themselves that what they are buying is the real thing. And the perpetrator usually gets away with it unscathed, because of the “Wizard of Oz” curtain the internet allows for, along with the tendency of the scammed party to feel too embarrassed or fearful to report being victimized and informing authorities of the transaction.
Another, less egregious scam involves internet sites with government-sounding names offering to provide and prepare forms for a fee, a fee the consumer is led to believe goes to the U.S. government. In truth, the consumer is merely paying for a form or application that is already available for free on the Citizenship and Immigration Services’ government website, and will be forced to pay again when it comes to the actual filing of the form, and covering the true government processing fee The simple rule of thumb is that if the website does not have a “.gov” Web address, it is not a government website. For more information on the types of scams being marketed to U.S. immigration law consumers, along with a treasure trove of information on immigration law in general, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website at www.uscis.gov, and www.uscis.gov/avoidscams. Further, all U.S. immigration forms and applications are available at no charge at www.uscis.gov/forms.
PUBLISHED October 7, 2011 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM”
Copyright © 2011, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois