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Ask the Consul

Alert on Scams Affecting American and Dominican Citizens

March 7, 2011

American citizens and others should be on the alert for two new scams.  One is currently targeting elderly citizens in the U.S. The perpetrator contacts a grandparent on the telephone pretending to be a law enforcement official or attorney and informs them that a loved one has been arrested overseas. The caller instructs the victim to wire cash through a money transfer service to pay fines or secure bail. In some instances, impersonators are used to portray the role of the scared grandchild, effectively perpetuating the fraud.  We recommend that solicitants try to confirm the actual location of the victim with family members.  Remember, local law enforcement in the Dominican Republic follows a protocol to allow American citizens that have been arrested to contact U.S. Embassy.  And remember, do not send money to someone you do not know personally.

A second scam is aimed at non-U.S. citizens telling them they have won the Diversity Visa lottery (DV-2012) and instructing them to wire money.  The scammers behind these fraudulent emails and letters are posing as the U.S. government in an attempt to extract payment from DV applicants. DV-2012 applicants will not receive a notification letter from the U.S. government but must check their status at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.  Moreover, citizens of the Dominican Republic are not eligible for the lottery.

If you are contacted by someone asking you to send money, the best course of action is to attempt to contact the individual or firm through an independent listing to confirm they are actually making the request. Also, call other friends, family members and colleagues to confirm the situation.

For more information about internet fraud, please visit the State Department website at www.travel.state.gov.