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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Jenny
    • By MSE Jenny 10th Mar 14, 4:12 PM
    • 1,239Posts
    • 3,569Thanks
    MSE Jenny
    MSE guide discussion - shyster sites
    • #1
    • 10th Mar 14, 4:12 PM
    MSE guide discussion - shyster sites 10th Mar 14 at 4:12 PM


    Hi all,

    We've written a new guide to Shyster Sites and we'd love your feedback.


    Search for an EHIC, driving licence, passport or similar and you risk paying a shyster site for doing nowt. These sites appear high up on Google and dress up like legitimate sites, then charge you extra for what’s normally just easy form-filling.

    Have you been caught out (or nearly caught out) by a shyster site and paid over the odds? Have you managed to reclaim your cash after paying? Spotted another type of site we don't already list?

    If so, just click 'reply' to post,

    Thanks,

    MSE Jenny
    Last edited by MSE Jenny; 11-03-2014 at 3:58 PM.
Page 3
    • tealady
    • By tealady 9th Jul 17, 6:33 AM
    • 3,088 Posts
    • 3,994 Thanks
    tealady
    A tip which could be useful is if you are ever looking for a government site then go via www.gov.uk. It is a gateway to loads including passports and the official land registry website.
    Proud to be an MSE nerd
    Judge people by their achievements, not by their mistakes
    • robin58
    • By robin58 11th Jul 17, 5:39 PM
    • 2,705 Posts
    • 3,269 Thanks
    robin58
    A tip which could be useful is if you are ever looking for a government site then go via www.gov.uk. It is a gateway to loads including passports and the official land registry website.
    Originally posted by tealady
    Good advice tealady.

    Also another piece of advice is to think that any company who advertises on Google or Bing are out to take money out of your pocket into thiers.

    You wouldn't do it face to face, so be just as suspicious when online..
    The more I live, the more I learn.
    The more I learn, the more I grow.
    The more I grow, the more I see.
    The more I see, the more I know.
    The more I know, the more I see,
    How little I know.!!
    • polly tunnel
    • By polly tunnel 12th Jul 17, 10:56 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 16 Thanks
    polly tunnel
    Canada eTA scam
    My mother was nearly caught out with a site charging $100 instead of the CA$7 (about £4) via the Canadian government site at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp

    Google was apparently not accepting these ad sites, but clearly there are 3 at the top of the search charging $100 (USA), $39 (USA) and Ä32 (Polish)

    Beware!
    • Eddi the Seahorse
    • By Eddi the Seahorse 19th Jul 17, 3:03 PM
    • 31 Posts
    • 29 Thanks
    Eddi the Seahorse
    Another danger with Shyster Sites
    There is another (far more sinister) aspect to Shyster Sites: they also garner personal information from unwitting users.

    A typical site will ask you to fill in an official-looking form (name, address, date of birth etc) before asking you for any money. So even if you realise you're on a copycat site at the point when you're asked for payment, by that stage you've already given too much away.
    • chaseb
    • By chaseb 17th Jan 18, 7:54 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    chaseb
    Scam ESTA sites
    I have just been stung painfully by a Shyster ESTA site.I have just paid $95 for a $14 waiver application.I could cry now just seeing that difference in print.I have asked for a refund and cancellation but they have aggressively argued they are a third party agency acting legally.They are just within the law and a cats whisker away from being called a scamming organisation.Please be very carefully when applying on line as this is the only way you can apply for a USA visa waiver.I am trying the bank tomorrow and the American Embassy to see if there is anything I can do.I know deep down this is a costly and painful error and I would hate anyone else to get caught out.
    Originally posted by the_juggler_2
    I Googled "ESTA uk citizen" and the first one on the list is esta.us/uk.html, the official site is 3rd on the list. Out of interest I clicked through (there's a post above saying that the bogus site owner would have to pay per ad click) and filled out an application with some bogus data (old passport number etc).... the bogus site's fee is $119 !!!!! Google have a lot to answer for here as they know full well which are the culprit sites and using the excuse 'it's not illegal' is not ethical considering the current fee for an ESTA is $14. Has anyone on here tried to start a petition on the Parliament site for legislating against social media advertised misleading sites making them liable for compensation? I've not checked Facebook for the same scam (as mentioned in another post) as I don't often go on there much because I don't need to update friends on what I had for breakfast this morning
    • claireegret
    • By claireegret 24th Jun 18, 1:01 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    claireegret
    ESTA - fake website
    I'm a newbie here...inspired to join because of this:
    I went to esta.us to get ESTA visa waivers for the family - got charged $88 instead of the $14. This is annoying and expensive, and I feel like a fool for not spotting that it was fake. But worse, they have all my personal details - passport number/address/DOB etc... I am worried this personal data breach more than the money.... any thoughts welcome
    Thanks
    • Froggitt
    • By Froggitt 25th Jun 18, 8:09 AM
    • 5,835 Posts
    • 3,073 Thanks
    Froggitt
    I'm a newbie here...inspired to join because of this:
    I went to esta.us to get ESTA visa waivers for the family - got charged $88 instead of the $14. This is annoying and expensive, and I feel like a fool for not spotting that it was fake. But worse, they have all my personal details - passport number/address/DOB etc... I am worried this personal data breach more than the money.... any thoughts welcome
    Thanks
    Originally posted by claireegret
    I suspect under GDPR, you have a right to have all your details deleted. Read up on it, and then make sure that it has been done.
    illegitimi non carborundum
    • beenscammed
    • By beenscammed 13th Jul 18, 10:01 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    beenscammed
    Hello, another newbie here who has been scammed by esta.us aka Evisaonline (stupidly fell for their number one search ranking!). I have asked them to cancel my application and to delete my details under the right to erasure with GDPR. I will be cancelling my credit card just in case. I have also submitted a story on Watchdog and reported them to Google. With any luck from the powers that be they won't be scamming people anymore!!
    • Polecateddy
    • By Polecateddy 20th Sep 18, 4:04 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Polecateddy
    Fairly good advice is that if you feel you have been misled by one of these sites is to report it though the Citizen's Advice Helpline, where it should then be referred to the Local Trading Standards office. The sites are effectively hugely reliant on Google keyword advertising, and paying huge sums of money for this. The number one spot in the search is worth twice as much to them in revenue than number two. To comply with Google they have to have a secure credit facility for payments on their sites. The way to damage these shyster companies is forcing them to process too many refunds, where the credit facility company cancels their contract and they lose the ability to continue to use Google key word advertising. This Achilles heel is linked to the fact hardly any of the shyster companies comply with the Distance Selling Regulations, in that 14 day cancellation rights and the clear break down of what the customer is actually paying for needs to be provided in a 'durable medium.' Either paper or email. Hiding all the key material in obscure areas of the website or using hyperlinks from the receipt isn't good enough. Therefore Trading Standards usually have a clear way to effectively put a dent in the shysters. Once the company compies with the Distance Selling Regulations of course the number of refunds they get faced with goes through the roof, and the company may die without its key word Google advertising.
    • Annie Lucas
    • By Annie Lucas 1st Nov 18, 7:47 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Annie Lucas
    Misrepresenting companies
    Another problem is when searching for a florist in Glasgow called Flowers at Sandyford, which had been recommended, the first result seemed to be correct so I made an Internet order. Purely by chance, as the delivery arrangements had to be changed, I discovered my order had in fact gone to another company altogether, called Eflorists which then had the flowers delivered by a company called Blooming Marvellous.
    I can't complain that I didn't get what I ordered as flowers did arrive but I am very annoyed that my money went to a company other than the local one I wanted to use.
    Needless to say the problem stemmed from Google Ads which misrepresented Eflorists as Flowers at Sandyford.
    I cannot stress too much never ever use a company that appears on an ad, always scroll down to find a result that is not an ad.
    • Sumyazz
    • By Sumyazz 20th Dec 18, 4:32 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Sumyazz
    I've literally just forked out £44 to change my address on my licence that I could have done for free.. The Shyster website said that if I contacted them within 24 hours to cancel them I would get a full refund. I have sent them over 10 emails and forms to cancel and they haven't got back to me. I found out who the director was and company information. They said they will get back in touch within one day and they haven't. Is there anything I can do other than pester them?
    • petercom
    • By petercom 16th Jan 19, 10:40 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    petercom
    Esta 'Official' application site
    I got caught out by a bogus 'official' ESTA site:

    official-esta (dot) com/visa-waiver-program/esta-for-british-citizens

    which appears high up in the Google results for "esta uk" and "esta british citizens" and says it is 'Official ESTA'.

    I should have twigged when I came to pay and the charge was $95 but I was in a hurry and didn't double-check.

    The terms and conditions show that they do, indeed, charge $81 for processing what they claim is a 'Premium' service.

    I did receive my ESTA very quickly, so they do what they claim, but I still sent an email asking for a partial refund on the basis that their claim to be 'official' was misleading and their fees exorbitant.

    Had a very nice email back saying I was too late to get a refund as my ESTA had already been issued but that, as a gesture of goodwill, they will refund me 25%.

    Better than nothing, but surely their claim to be the 'Official' ESTA application site is misleading close to fraudulent?
    • Blackbeard of Perranporth
    • By Blackbeard of Perranporth 20th Jan 19, 6:07 AM
    • 6,174 Posts
    • 35,766 Thanks
    Blackbeard of Perranporth
    I got caught out by a bogus 'official' ESTA site:

    official-esta (dot) com/visa-waiver-program/esta-for-british-citizens

    which appears high up in the Google results for "esta uk" and "esta british citizens" and says it is 'Official ESTA'.

    I should have twigged when I came to pay and the charge was $95 but I was in a hurry and didn't double-check.

    The terms and conditions show that they do, indeed, charge $81 for processing what they claim is a 'Premium' service.

    I did receive my ESTA very quickly, so they do what they claim, but I still sent an email asking for a partial refund on the basis that their claim to be 'official' was misleading and their fees exorbitant.

    Had a very nice email back saying I was too late to get a refund as my ESTA had already been issued but that, as a gesture of goodwill, they will refund me 25%.

    Better than nothing, but surely their claim to be the 'Official' ESTA application site is misleading close to fraudulent?
    Originally posted by petercom
    I am afraid you paid for a service. If you do a refund or chargeback, your esta will be cancelled. This is mentioned on the esta website.

    The correct website is.

    https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html;jsessionid=5K5qFZEnSXqndejfV1-64ZEE4XkxLzxfw7PEeqCwdQcqtVkkgOmi!-47577928?execution=e1s1

    And donít use this google thing.
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    • dablondi
    • By dablondi 27th Mar 19, 9:51 AM
    • 7 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    dablondi
    Canadian ETA Visa Site - Excessive Fees
    My son has just been duped into using this website evisacanadaeta[dot]com and been charged the princely sum of £80 to apply for a Canadian ETA that normally costs CAD $7 (£3.50). I know many will say "Should have read the small print" but I am posting this as a heads up to others. Although the Terms and Conditions do state the fee - it is by no means clear. It says the fee is "$75" but does not make it clear if this US or CAD (in the same sentence the ETA fee is referred to as "CAD$7" so clearly this is CAD. It also says about the $75 service fee "... the amount depends on where the application is made" so I believe the figure of $75 is meaningless.

    The website claims to be regulated under English law and indicates the company name to be World Visa Ltd with the address 1 Mark Square, London EC2A 4EG, United Kingdom. I checked on Companies House website and no such company exists however this company looks to be very similar: WORLD VISA NETWORK LTD, Company number 10221808,54 Greenfield Rd, 2nd Floor, London, England, E1 1EJ.

    My questions are:
    1. I've read that sites like this are supposed to clearly display a banner on their homepage clearly stating they are a private company and not a government affiliated site. This site does not (although item 1 on T&Cs page does state this). Is this a legal matter or just a code of conduct issue?
    2. The fee is shown as a Dollar ($) amount but the fee has been charged as a GBP (£) amount ie £75 GBP instead of $75 which if US would be £56 or if CAD would be £42. I fear this is a typo on the T&Cs page and should say £75 not $75. Where do I stand legally on this, typo or not?
    3. The website claims I have no rights to redress stating "Once you have submitted your application online or by phone, we assume that you have agreed that we will immediately begin processing your application and providing our services. Accordingly, you will have no right to a cancellation under the protection regulations "The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013". This is because under Rule 36 (1) (a) and 37 (1) (a), you lose your right to cancellation if you agree that we can begin to provide services within the time limits cancellation." Is this correct?
    4. If the company details are incorrect on the website is this fraud or contravention of trading standards?

    I plan to write/e-mail to World Visa Ltd asking for my sons money back and I have also reported this website with Fraud Online but any advice/guidance would be appreciated.
    Last edited by dablondi; 27-03-2019 at 9:54 AM.
    • littlego
    • By littlego 22nd May 19, 1:18 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    littlego
    My son has just been duped into using this website evisacanadaeta[dot]com and been charged the princely sum of £80 to apply for a Canadian ETA that normally costs CAD $7 (£3.50). I know many will say "Should have read the small print" but I am posting this as a heads up to others. Although the Terms and Conditions do state the fee - it is by no means clear. It says the fee is "$75" but does not make it clear if this US or CAD (in the same sentence the ETA fee is referred to as "CAD$7" so clearly this is CAD. It also says about the $75 service fee "... the amount depends on where the application is made" so I believe the figure of $75 is meaningless.

    The website claims to be regulated under English law and indicates the company name to be World Visa Ltd with the address 1 Mark Square, London EC2A 4EG, United Kingdom. I checked on Companies House website and no such company exists however this company looks to be very similar: WORLD VISA NETWORK LTD, Company number 10221808,54 Greenfield Rd, 2nd Floor, London, England, E1 1EJ.

    My questions are:
    1. I've read that sites like this are supposed to clearly display a banner on their homepage clearly stating they are a private company and not a government affiliated site. This site does not (although item 1 on T&Cs page does state this). Is this a legal matter or just a code of conduct issue?
    2. The fee is shown as a Dollar ($) amount but the fee has been charged as a GBP (£) amount ie £75 GBP instead of $75 which if US would be £56 or if CAD would be £42. I fear this is a typo on the T&Cs page and should say £75 not $75. Where do I stand legally on this, typo or not?
    3. The website claims I have no rights to redress stating "Once you have submitted your application online or by phone, we assume that you have agreed that we will immediately begin processing your application and providing our services. Accordingly, you will have no right to a cancellation under the protection regulations "The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013". This is because under Rule 36 (1) (a) and 37 (1) (a), you lose your right to cancellation if you agree that we can begin to provide services within the time limits cancellation." Is this correct?
    4. If the company details are incorrect on the website is this fraud or contravention of trading standards?

    I plan to write/e-mail to World Visa Ltd asking for my sons money back and I have also reported this website with Fraud Online but any advice/guidance would be appreciated.
    Originally posted by dablondi
    Hi, my husband has just done exactly the same thing. He bought visa's for us and our two children through a site called etaelectronicvisa.com which has the same London address that you mentioned, same T&C's. We don't know where to start with trying to get our money back. Please could you advise if you managed to get anywhere with it? Also do you actually get the visa's from this company (just at an inflated price?) or is the whole thing a scam? I am concerned that they have our passport details also. Any advice would be appreciated.
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