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Warning issued on U.S. visa scam in Iraq

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN
updated 11:32 AM EST, Sun November 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A scam in Iraq apparently asks U.S. visa lottery applicants to send money up front
  • The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issues a warning saying visa applications are free
  • Each year 55,000 visas are given out worldwide in a random drawing

(CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is warning Iraqis who want to enter the annual visa lottery to be wary of a scam that instructs applicants to send money via Western Union to someone apparently at the U.S. Embassy in London.

"UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should money be sent to any address for participation in the DV program," the embassy warns in its statement.

The Diversity Visa program offers up to 55,000 visas worldwide each year to applicants "drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States," according to the State Department website. The winners get green cards, meaning they are permanent residents of the U.S.

It's free to enter the random drawing through the State Department website dvlottery.state.gov. This year's entry deadline was November 2. The embassy said any Iraqi who worked with a private entity to apply should be cautious, because some people apparently have been sent letters instructing them to pay money up front.

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