The Consular Section has received reports of visa scams apparently emanating from The Gambia. These scams involve promises of a U.S. visa if the victim wires money for one. Many of the complaints we have received involve perpetrators who claim to be the former U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Edward Alford. The victims are often in Pakistan. They receive emails full of spelling and grammatical errors promising them a visa if they send money to The Gambia. When the victim wires money, the scammer sends an email scan image of a fake U.S. visa to the recipient. It is not a legally valid visa, and the holder will not be able to travel with it.

We wish to emphasize that these visa promises are scams for the purpose of stealing money from the victims. No U.S. Embassy or Consulate sells visas over email, and the U.S. Embassy in The Gambia would not issue visas to people living in Pakistan or any other country. Edward Alford is no longer the Ambassador to The Gambia, and he is not the person sending these emails. Please look at the email address of the sender – all State Department official emails would come from an address ending with There is also no such thing as a “three-years working permit visa.”

In order to obtain a nonimmigrant visa, the applicant needs to visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them, apply online at, pay the $160 fee, and schedule the appointment for the interview at the Embassy or Consulate. There is no other way to obtain a U.S. visa. Anyone who promises an alternate route to a U.S. visa is a criminal who is trying to steal money from his/her victims.

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the victims in these crimes will ever be able to get their money returned. If you or anyone you know has been promised a visa for a fee, please report the scammer to the police immediately.