A student friend recently shared a WhatsApp message, unsure if it was scam. The message claims to offer an easy to route to free visas, housing, accommodation, and medicine access.
Here's how we know it was a scam, and where it lead.
It read as follows:
UK GOVERNMENT JOB RECRUITMENT 2022: This is open to all Individuals who wants to work in UK, Here is a great chance for you all to work conveniently in the UK. UK needs over 132,000 workers in 2022. Over 186,000 Jobs are Open for applying. THE PROGRAM COVERS: Travel expense. Housing. Accommodation. Medical facilities. Applicant must be 16 years or above. Can speak basic English. BENEFIT OF THE PROGRAM: Instant work permit. Visa application assistance. All nationalities can apply. Open to all individuals and students who want to work and study. Apply here [url removed]
As you might suspect, there's multiple red flags in the above claims for anyone considering signing up.
The bogus visa claim checklist
The site gives the impression of being operated by UK Visas and Immigration, and repeats some of the errors and red flags from the WhatsApp message.
We are urgently looking for foreigners to apply for the thousands of jobs already available in the United Kingdom. This application is free and upon approval you will be given a work permit, visa, plane tickets and accommodation in the UK for free.
With even the most cursory of glances, the claims on this website simply don't add up. Let's dissect some of them:
- UKVI applications all begin here, on a gov.uk address. This scam site is not hosted on a gov.uk address.
- The Home Office does not cover the cost of flights or accomodation for visa applicants coming to the UK.
- There is no free access to medical services in the UK. Visa holders pay an annual immigration health surcharge to access NHS services. This is paid upfront at visa application time.
- The minimum age requirement for a skilled work visa is 18, not "16 years or above".
- In most cases, applicants need to be able to demonstrate English ability through one of several available qualifications, not just "can speak basic English".
- You won't get an "Instant work permit" without paying an additional fee to make use of same day / next day processing.
It's website quiz time
The site posed two questions, including marital and employment status. It then asks for first and last name, email address, and phone number. No matter what I entered, or even if I left all the form elements blank, I always got the following message:
After checking your applications, You have been approved to work in the United Kingdom 2022
I most certainly had not. It continued:
--Your UK VISA FORM will be available immediately after you click the "Invite Friends/Group" button below to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so That They Can Also be Aware of the PROGRAM.
Unlike other sites along the same lines, this one didn't check if I really was sending the link to people on WhatsApp, so I faked it. Did I get my visa after "sharing" the scam?
No, I did not.
A distinct lack of visa forms
The clue is definitely in the title. Instead of the promised form, I was greeted by the following message:
To facilitate the downloading of your UK VISA FORM you must complete this final step of Nationality Verification!
1.Click the Continent you are from and complete the given tasks, verification is by phone number or downloading, registering e.t.c.
(Remember, this step is very important, add your phone number to verify)
Do not skip any step..
I think my favourite part about all of this is that they used the logo for VISA, the financial multinational corporation. At this point, why not?
Of redirects and surveys
Whether I choose "Africa" or "Other Continent", I was directed to several sites selling drones and watches or asking for mobile numbers, alongside yet more quizzes. The visa forms? Not so much.
While digging around for more information on the site involved in this, I came across this article from the last day or so. Clearly, this site is doing the rounds in WhatsApp circles. There's also some additional UK visa-related scams listed there too, one of which was bouncing around a few months ago. All in all, this is yet another "if it's too good to be true" escapade and should be avoided.