Every now and then on the internet, one comes across a website with a video or an article dedicated to the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery. Some provide free information relating to the Lottery, while others propose related services at a cost. The latter, for the most part, usually attract strong comments suggesting that they constitute DV Lottery scams.
This review explores the motivations behind such enterprises. It not only assesses the role of DV service providing websites; it also weighs in on the degree of truth in arguments proposed by their critics. It concludes by advancing helpful tips as far as avoiding DV-related scams is concerned.
Before I begin discussing the issue on hand, I would like to establish that there is an official Diversity Visa website, owned and run by the Consular Section of the State Department of the United States Government. That’s where authentic information regarding the Diversity Visa Lottery can be obtained. ALL other “DV websites” – including this one – rely on information from that website – and other official sources – to exist and function. You can access the official Diversity Visa program website here.
Now let’s go into business. The first group under review here is DV service offerors. That is how I refer to them. They are of two kinds, as you may have remarked from the introduction: those who simply provide information about the Lottery, generally free of charge, on the one hand; and those for whom the Lottery is a business opportunity, on the other.
This first subgroup who I refer to as “DV Passionates” provide free information to their audience simply because they are – as the above nickname suggests – passionate about the DV Lottery. You will agree with me that when a person is passionate about a subject, they are willing to talk about it, even without attaching a cost. This subgroup does not pose much of a problem to those seeking information on the Lottery, since there is no financial risk involved in dealing with them. (Donations, if requested by them, are voluntary).
The “problem” is with the second subgroup: those who use aspects of the DV Lottery to conduct business. They are generally the target of criticisms from most “passionates” and others who believe that this second subgroup are unscrupulous individuals whose sole intention is to take advantage of others. Reasons cited for such criticisms include:
1. The DV Lottery is supposed to be free; why do they charge a fee?
Response: I, for one, do not see things that way. I believe it’s up to an individual to decide whether he/she pays for a service or embraces the free option, considering his/her specific reality. For example, those who use public transport for the great part do have their private cars. So, should we call on them NOT to use public transport since in fact they have what is supposed to be “free” cars parked at home? Not at all.
2. (in some cases) why are the fees exorbitant
Response: I too have asked the same question. The outcome of any lottery, including the DV Lottery, is governed by chance. Since success is not guaranteed, I believe any cost attached should not be exorbitant. (That is why we ourselves charge reasonable fees for our Diversity Visa services, when solicited).
But that’s not how the business world works. For example, there are some hotels where you pay less than 50 dollars to spend a night; there are others where you pay a couple of thousand dollars or even more for the same duration. And customers check in at both kinds.
3. The DV Lottery SIMPLY involves submitting one’s personal details on the official website; why get paid for it?
And because of such views, there are many who declare outright, “ALL DV-related online businesses are SCAMS”. Such people advice visitors NEVER to have anyone enter the DV Lottery on their behalf.
Response: I suggest that you take out time and visit the official DV website and see if you agree with this assertion.
Offline DV Agents
There are many – especially in poor countries – who do not own, nor have access to a computer. In such places, computer illiteracy is extremely high, even among those who qualify to enter the DV Lottery.
How is someone who doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer – let alone, access the internet – expected to enter their personal data on the official website? Such individuals therefore solicit the services of cafes and other internet-related service providers for the purpose of ‘entering them’ into the Lottery.
Although there may be a number of disadvantages attached, this practice is common in many countries around the world. From Ghana to Ethiopia to Nepal and beyond. Legitimate local businesses get involved with the DV Lottery during the Entry Period on behalf on their customers – which is Quite LEGAL!
As you have noted from my responses to the reasons for criticisms listed above, I beg to differ with critics; their criticisms are unfounded, and should not be directed at online DV businesses. The reason is, there are a lot of legitimate online DV-related businesses out there.
Those who vent such attacks need to realize that any activity – for that matter – can be turned into a business opportunity, especially when it solves people’s problems. And there are many ‘problems’ that people need solutions for when it comes to the DV Lottery.
For example, the official DV instructions are published only in English, whereas those who desire emigrating to the U.S. are not necessarily only English speakers. Some DV-related websites therefore address that specific need by offering translated versions, as well as other services in their language.
What do you think? Should people be expressly excluded from the DV Program because they are computer illiterate or non-English speakers?
Let’s not view the world with a limited mindset. Such hurdles inspire websites owners – like ourselves – to propose various kind of services, and I believe it is quite normal for such services to be paid for.
Internet-based DV businesses are only proposing the same kinds of services that offline DV businesses are, to the larger world. There is therefore nothing “scammy” about what we do.
On DV Lottery Scams
This is not to say there aren’t DV-related scams on the internet. Indeed, there are – and many of them. As a matter of fact, there will always be scams, whether offline or online, as long as financial transactions exist.
The truth is, many of us – internet users – will only realize that ‘something’ online is a scam when the damage has already been done. If it was so easy to identify scams, probably no-one would ever fall victim to them. But that’s far from the reality. Even the most cautious of people sometimes fall victim, simply because scams are carefully designed to deceive you.
I have read articles that outline – in a numbered list – things that constitute ‘identities’ of DV scam websites. And what I saw in those articles was sheer inexperience. There is no such thing as a ‘list of characteristics’ of scam websites. Though it is true you have to exercise caution at the highest of levels, let no-one deceive you. An experienced scammer would do everything in their power to make their website appear normal, yea appealing.
One could think they are ‘running away’ from a scam website, based on so-called characteristics. Whereas, in reality, the website is genuine. Another could happily ‘settle down’ and start to make payments on a site they think is safe, and before they know it, they’ve lost a fortune. So, don’t go about following any strict so-called scam websites “identity list”. You would be mistaking.
The ‘safest’ means to enter the DV Lottery as it relates to finance would be to head over to the official DV website and do it all yourself (if you are capable). Though you may meet a number of hurdles, there’s absolutely no financial risks involved.
But in case you aren’t for one reason or the other, allow me to share with you the two-step method I use to keep safe in my online transactions, and which I believe has helped to prevent me from being scammed online, and should do the same for you, whether it’s DV Lottery online services or any other.
First, be quite mindful.
Do a lot of research by reading reviews, participating in forums, asking questions – and the like – regarding the website concerned, before going further. You would certainly not be the first person to have come into contact with that site.
And second. Never pay an amount that you cannot afford losing, to a website that you are not familiar with.
What does this mean? After carrying out your background investigation, if you decide to pay for a service on a ‘still-looking-strange’ website, only pay what wouldn’t cost you much – just in case you have to lose it. If you can afford to spend a fortune, then go for an expensive service, since that wouldn’t cause you any harm. On the other hand, if you don’t have much money to risk, then spend just something minimal.
Remember the example of the hotels above. The capitalist environment we live in has made it possible to find ‘deals’ of fairly similar nature with possibly contrasting prices. Go for the one within your reach, with very little or no harm attached. As the saying goes, hang your coat where your hand can (comfortably) reach.
To summarize the above points, I would say, spend online according to both your conviction and your means. And just in case you are in need of a reputable Diversity Visa online service, check out our Diversity Visa Services page.