Every year, the U.S. Department of States hold a Diversity Visa lottery program. Through this program, the agency grants up to 55,000 visas per year to individuals seeking green cards in order to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. There is no cost to enter the lottery, and individuals can enter on the State Department’s website. There is no way to increase the odds of winning, and the drawing is random.
However, some businesses and individuals have been accused of visa lottery scams, resulting in state or federal criminal charges. The legal team at Raiser & Kenniff, PC can provide legal representation if you have been accused of a fraud crime in connection with immigration or the visa lottery. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation and to obtain more information about our legal services that can help you fight the serious charges you are facing.
Overview of Visa Lottery Scams
A visa lottery scheme may take any number of forms. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the scam is defined as:
– Contacting an individual with a claim that he or she has won the lottery and must now pay a fee to receive the green card.
– Promising to increase an individual’s chance of winning the visa lottery, typically in exchange for items of value or large sums of money.
– Charging money, particularly large fees, to help green card candidates apply to enter the diversity visa lottery.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, large-scale fraud rings continue to operate worldwide. For instance, in the Ukraine, individuals illegally obtain personal information about citizens and enter them into the visa lottery without their permission or knowledge. Then, when the citizens attempt to enter themselves, they are rejected as the system believes they are submitting duplicate entries. Scammers then ask the citizens to pay thousands of dollars to obtain their confirmation number to complete the visa application if they are chosen as winners. Some winners are also forced into fake marriages with individuals can afford to pay the fees and who wish to immigrate.
U.S. authorities at the federal or state level may investigate all types of fraud, including organized fraud schemes across the globe as well as simple false advertisements made by companies here in the U.S. Any involvement with a diversity visa lottery scam could potentially lead to arrest if authorities can provide evidence of illegal activity.
Visa Lottery Ticket Scam Penalties
Penalties for involvement in a diversity visa lottery scam will depend on how the defendant took action to scam the victim as well as whether state or federal prosecutors are pursuing the charges. Defendants could face charges of fraud in addition to charges of misuse of permits, visas and other documents as mandated under U.S. Code Section 1546. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the first offense that did not involve drug trafficking or an intent to facilitate terrorism.
Defendants may also face fraud charges as they relate to federal identity theft offenses and identification documents under 18 U.S. Code Sections 1028 and 1028(A). Additionally, if a defendant falsely pretends to be an employee or officer acting under the authority of the U.S., he or she may be charged with the crime outlined in 18 U.S. Code Section 912. Defendants involved in visa lottery fraud are also commonly charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and other federal crimes as well as state-level offenses such as the unauthorized practice of law.
Facing Accusations of Running a Diversity Visa Lottery Scam? Let our NYC Immigration Fraud Lawyers Help
If you or someone you love has been charged with running or participating in a diversity visa lottery scam, the attorneys at Raiser & Kenniff, PC can help. We can explain the penalties you may face for your alleged involvement, and we can provide solid legal advice for responding to the charges. Let us put our experience to work for you and build a strong defense against the prosecution. Whether you are ready to get started immediately or you still have questions about our process and the criminal justice system, give us a call today, and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your case.