By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
The consular section of the United States Consulate General in Lagos last Friday, at the Public Affairs section, broad street, Lagos, announced changes in the 2012 DV lottery winners notification mode which according to the consular officers who briefed newsmen, is aimed at addressing some of the issues constituting hindrances to a smooth operation.

Individuals who played the lottery and are waiting to be contacted by the US embassy as it was the process prior to the changes, would be doing so at their own risk. They are directed to as from May 2011, visit the lottery website with the confirmation number given to them on submission of the DV 2012 lottery form which issues a notification whether or not the individual has won. The successful lottery players are further directed on how to proceed.

Explaining the reasons for the changes, the duo of Jessica Hartzfeild and Charity Boyette stated that the changes became imperative due to several information gathered by the US Consulate on how fraudsters are utilizing the previous notification method to dupe people.

“After considering how we have been bombarded with calls from individuals who wanted to clarify if the text messages and emails they got were authentic, our office decided to re-strategize by referring those who played the lottery to the website to reduce the fraud drastically”, Ms. Hartzfeild explained.

Charity Boyette who marveled at the creativity with which the messages are constructed by the fraudsters which she said is  capable of attracting the interest of many unsuspecting victims disclosed the need for individuals to keep their confirmation numbers safe as the public Affairs Section will not have access to individuals confirmation numbers.

The Consular officers also debunked an erroneous information going round that the fraudsters mostly operate from the UK, noting that some smart people who received such text messages and emails only called in to verify how authentic they were.

In other to check the activities of the swindlers, she revealed that the US embassy is currently enjoying an excellent working relationship with the FBI, law enforcement agencies in the UK and Nigeria to curtail the ugly trend.

On the issue of how possible it is for the US to assist individuals who eventually get visas after winning the lottery, the Consular officers maintained that the services of US embassy and indeed the United States end after visas are issued, stressing that the US has nothing to do with Air fare, education, housing and employment of winners.

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