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Fraudsters rip off emigrant hopefuls with US visa scam

IRISH people hoping to make a new life in the US are being warned of a new cash scam.

The warning comes from the US embassy in Dublin after officials there launched an investigation into fraudulent emails, websites and adverts offering Diversity Visas.

The emails detail how to obtain a visa by transferring money through a Western Union account, prompting the embassy to issue a warning telling people not to enter into a so-called 'visa lottery'.

Officials said that although there are legitimate sites offering visas, some illegitimate firms are offering "visa services" as a cover for scams and identity theft.

They warned that the use of official US emblems, flags and other official seals are not a guaranteed sign that a visa offer is legitimate.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Australian tourism authority has found that the number of young people seeking a working holiday visa has increased by 30pc.

Some 11,122 young people were granted a working visa for the year ending January 31, 2011.

The working holiday visa allows people aged 18-30 to live in Australia for 12 months, six of which must be work-oriented.





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Tourism Australia regional general manager Rodney Harrex said the increase in Irish interest in the visas was a sign that younger travellers were keen to explore the opportunities of living and working in a different country.

"Provided you've got a return airfare and some savings to prove you can support yourself when you arrive in Australia, and meet basic health and character requirements, anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 from Ireland can apply."

hnews@herald.ie