Ukraine Visa Scams
Because it is quite hard to find sponsors, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the situation and scamming Ukrainians. Here, we provide some advice on this topic and staying safe.
Note that the tactics of scammers (in any field of scamming) are always changing but some elements of human pyschology remain the same:
- Preying on your despair, and hopes of being lucky compared to others
- That paying is a way to create a shortcut to success when things are hard to achieve
- Making you feel like there is urgency to act or else you will ‘miss out’ on the offer
- Asking you to be secretive
- Reassuring you there is nothing to worry about, as you will not pay unless a service is delivered
Paying for sponsors / visas
We are aware that people may be advertising that, for a sum of money (sometimes hundreds of pounds), they can get you a sponsor on a Homes for Ukraine visa. Sometimes, they won’t advertise or ask for money to begin with; only when the ‘service’ has been delivered.
You will even hear about these from friends of friends, who seem trustworthy.
Genuine sponsors will receive a £350 a month ‘thank you’ payment to host you. They do not need additional payment. PLEASE NEVER PAY FOR A VISA – THESE ARE SCAMS.
When genuine sponsors are hard to find, ask yourself how there are secret sources of sponsors that you can’t come across, only these people that ‘can help you with your visa’?
You may be asked to make a bank transfer to pay for your visa application, but to mark the payment as a payment to ‘family and friends’. This is specified, because banks will not refund this type pf payment if it turns out to be fraudulent.
If you are already here under a visa, and want to bring a friend or relative over, then instead of paying for such a fraudulent ‘service’, why not save your money to rent your own place, become an eligible and genuine sponsor yourself under Homes for Ukraine, and receive the £350 a month ‘thank you’ payment.
Else, you could go to a country that doesn’t require a visa, and continue your search for a sponsor in safety from there.
‘New rules’ requiring agents to apply for you
We have seen posts from potential scammers claiming there are ‘new rules’ in place which require you, both as hosts or as people looking for sponsors, to use agents or intermediaries ‘in order to protect your data from fraudsters’.
This is absolute nonsense. The so-called ‘intermediaries’ are scammers who will take your money, and / or your personal data, and make a fraudulent application.
No such rules exist; see Ukrainian Refugee UK Visa Types for links to the official Government guidance.
Scammers are using official sounding emails which look like they have come from Government departments to say that your visa application has been successful.
Genuine emails confiming submission of your visa application, and of the visa application decision, will come from the GOV.UK domain.
Stealing hosts’ details
As hosts, you also need to be aware of scammers posing as Ukrainian refugees, especially on Facebook. While most people posting are genuinely searching for sponsors, others are looking to take your passport details supposedly to make the visa application on your behalf but actually to use these on other unsuspecting Ukrainians – for a fee.
Profiles can be fake, and pictures stolen. Always build a relationship first if you are sponsoring someone unknown to you.
Reporting scammers on Facebook / Telegram
If you come across people asking you to send them private messages on Facebook, and then telling you they can find you a sponsor, we suggest you report them to the Facebook group admin with your suspicions so that they don’t get to exploit you or others.
A responsible group admin will take such reports seriously.
Multiple sponsor application checks
If someone else’s passport details have been taken without their permission and used in the visa application, it’s possible you will receive a genuine visa application decision confirmation.
However, the Home Office is increasingly monitoring sponsors who appear multiple times in their databases to see if they are genuine. You may be refused entry at the border, or be prevented from applying again. You are unlikely to have anywhere to stay on arrival. It’s not worth the risk.
On the other hand, we do know of genuinely altruistic people who want to help as many people as possible get to safety, especially if those people can be self-sufficient in less than 6 months in the UK. Such people will NOT ask for payment!
Going to Ireland
If you are asked to enter via Ireland (a separate country to the UK) and to cross the border into Northern Ireland (part of the UK), this could also be a sign of a fraudulent process, as it is a way that border controls can be circumvented.
Pretending to live with the host
If you paid for a visa and your visa application confirmation is genuine, then it’s likely that the details of a host’s passport were taken without their permission and used in the application. On arrival in the UK, you might be asked to pretend you live somewhere for the council visit, or to pretend that your ‘sponsor’ has kicked you out on arrival.
As you will immediately need to find somewhere to rent on arrival in the UK if you go down this route, don’t be misled into thinking this will be easy. You may need to pay 6 months rent upfront if you don’t have a job. See Renting Privately. Council housing is unlikely to be available in such circumstances.
How to protect yourself
We recommend subscribing to the Government guidance to receive official updates. In this way, you can be sure of the facts and not fall prey to rumours or scams. See Useful Resources for detailed instructions on how to do this simple task.