Fake US visa website tricks trusting travellers
As if border control in the US isn't gruelling enough, a whole new world of paperwork arrived for travellers in January. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) was implemented for everyone hoping to visit the United States, and although it's branded as an electronic application system for the visa waiver programme, tourists still need to complete the green visa waiver form provided before arrival.
It's a pain for sure, but no more irritating than, say, turning the shower off and discovering the towel is still in the airing cupboard. Still, it's relatively straight forward to complete and it's free, so there's no real need to ask somebody else for help. That doesn't stop people offering, or charging you for doing so.
Sky News reports that the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is investigating a company called Visa Express Ltd based in South Korea, that operates a site called estauk.com and charges customers $45 a time for submitting details to ESTA (although there's no guarantee the information has been submitted). The company advertises using Google AdWords with an ad stating "Welcome to the US application website".
The trouble is, ESTA is a site you only use once in a blue moon - your electronic visa waiver lasts for two years - so unless you land on the correct site straight away, you'll be none the wiser, especially when you're greeted by a very official looking homepage:
In fact it's far more convincing than the official ESTA website, which has a design provided by a seven year-old and the user functionality of a frightened horse.
Anyway, the point is that the ASA are likely to get medieval on their ass, which invariably means a sound telling-off printed in a report and read by nobody. Still not to worry, let the people continue to email their passport details and bank account information to South Korea. What's the worst that can happen, eh?