Haitians scammed in visa scheme

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti — Several Haitian nationals have lost hundreds of dollars after they were scammed into believing that they would be receiving United States visas for a training programme or scholarships, the National Police of Haiti (PNH) said on Friday.

It said in collaboration with the US Embassy, they have been able to remove profiles from the social media platform, Facebook that had been used to impersonate the US Embassy in Haiti.

The fraudulent profiles, which included “Ambassy usa in haiti” and “Ambassade des Etats unis en Haiti port au prince,” advertised fake visa programmes and applicants were directed to several telephone numbers where they thought they were in contact with embassy officials.

“These profiles were fraudulent and several dozen Haitian citizens lost hundreds of dollars each by transferring money to bank accounts in the scam, lured with the promise that their visas would be automatically approved for a training program or scholarship opportunity.”

In a statement, the US Embassy said it wanted to remind visa applicants that US visa fees in Haiti are never paid by Western Union or bank transfer, adding the only way to pay for a non-immigrant visa is directly at a participating branch of Sogexpress.

The embassy also said that it also never uses WhatsApp to communicate with visa applicants and that “interviews are never conducted over the phone and consular staff cannot promise issuance of a visa before an in-person visa interview”.