September 22, 2023
In recent months, the Embassy’s Fraud Prevention Unit detected more than 100 cases of apparent scams. Most of the victims were people seeking temporary work visas to work in the United States.
The scammers trick their victims into believing that they can help them get a job or expedite the visa application process. In many cases, the criminals pose as lawyers, recruiters, or U.S. Government employees. Contact is usually made via WhatsApp and social media.
Often, scammers make video calls and send the victims forged documents. In exchange for the fraudulent services, they demand payments of sums ranging from USD $200 to USD $3,500 through money transfer platforms such as Western Union, PayPal, Venmo and Zelle, among others.
The U.S. Embassy urges Costa Ricans to be alert and identify the signs that give away this type of scams:
- The U.S. Embassy never uses WhatsApp, nor video calls to communicate with visa applicants.
- The only official website to search for jobs in the U.S. is seasonaljobs.dol.gov. The official site to apply for a visa is ustraveldocs.com.
- Visa applicants should never send money to bank accounts owned by individuals. The U.S. Government does not use Western Union, PayPal, Venmo, or any other third-party service to receive payments for the visa application process, or any other costs associated with the immigration process.
- The work visa application process does not require applicants to obtain medical exams, show financial solvency, have a bank account, or social security number in the United States.
- Official email addresses of the U.S. Department of State end in @state.gov. Email addresses of other federal departments and agencies also always end in .gov. Any other ending (such as .com, .org, or .us) may be an indicator of fraud, except for the official website ustraveldocs.com.
If in doubt about a possible fraud situation, interested parties can call the U.S. Embassy in San José at 2519-2000 and ask to be assisted by the Fraud Prevention Unit.