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Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.
Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq., Immigration Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 108996
Experience:  10+ years of experience in various aspects of U.S. Immigration Law.
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Just checking on possible attempt to scam. A U.S. Citizen

Customer Question

Just checking on possible attempt to scam. A U.S. Citizen takes a 2-month nursing course in Ghana using her student visa. When attempting to fly out on a ticket she paid for, she is presented a document demanding that she show $2,500 in cash or she cannot leave. I say that's hogwash, but I'm not a lawyer
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Hello! My name is***** and I am a licensed attorney with more than 13 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help.

You are absolutely correct. I assume you have not met this person in person before.

These are generally romance scams. We get at least two or three questions like this on the website per week.

Normally the scam starts with trying to establish a romantic relationship, perhaps just a friendship at first. They also may claim to be a citizen of the UK or US or wherever so that you would not suspect they have any ulterior motive. They pull at your heartstrings by telling stories of hardship or tragedy that they have suffered in their life. At some point they want to come visit. They may ask you to send money for a passport and/or plane ticket. They may tell you that they have money, perhaps even that they are wealthy, but their money is tied up or something like that, perhaps they tie it into a tragedy or something. Then the next step is when they supposedly have the passport and plane ticket, they suddenly come up with this Basic Travel Allowance or (BTA) which is supposedly to show authorities that they have enough money to fund their trip. This is a lie. There is no such thing. They ask you to send that money so they can put it into a bank account to show the authorities. This is just another method to steal money from you. Then the next part of the scam would be when they are supposed to arrive. You wait for them at the airport and they never show up. A few days go by, you get extremely worried, none of your methods of communication work, and then suddenly a "friend" or "relative" of the scammer contacts you to let you know that she has been detained/arrested by authorities for carrying something illegal, I have heard of unregistered gold and they say it would have been a gift for you (perhaps to pay you back for the money you sent). The friend or relative of the scammer then asks for you to send money to bribe or pay fines in order to have the scammer released. From there, I have not heard of how else they are able to get money out of people. Of course there are variations to the scheme, but that's pretty much how it goes.

Here is a link that you can go to for more information:

http://ghana.usembassy.gov/romance_scam.html (yes, it is a link from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, but it applies to all different countries and I have seen this scam come from Russia, the Ukraine, Nigeria, many other countries, and yes, even the Philippines).

And here is another link from the government of Ghana:

http://www.ghanaimmigration.org/FAQ.htm

and another:

http://travel.state.gov/pdf/international_financial_scams_brochure.pdf

and another:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/financial_scams/financial_scams_4554.html?action=/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_960.html

and another from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow:

http://moscow.usembassy.gov/dating-scams.html

and one more:

http://romancescams.org/

Whatever you do, do NOT send money!

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions and there is no additional charge. Also, should you need to chat on the phone, private email or need help reviewing documentation, I am happy to do so for a small additional cost. Let me know if you are interested in these – I am happy to give you more details! When we are done, if you would be so kind as to leave a positive rating for my service, I would sincerely ***** ***** You can even ask additional questions without additional charge even after leaving a positive rating. Thank you for your understanding.

Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
It looks like you may need more convincing. Please take a look at these links so that you can see other stories that are similar to yours:
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Let me know if you need anything else, but please do not forget to rate me positively. As I do not receive a salary, it is the only way that I get credit for my service to you. You are NOT charged again and we do NOT finish just because it says, "Rate to finish" or something like that. I will not abandon you after you rate me positively if you have additional questions. Thank you for your understanding!

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