One Which? member was savvy enough to realise that a website he’d clicked on to renew his Esta document to travel to the US wasn’t official.
Member Michael Turney told us:
‘I regularly fly to the United States and recently received an email advising that my Esta travel document was up for renewal. I know that a two-year document costs $14 (£11).
‘I typed ‘Esta renewal’ into a search engine, and the first website on the results page looked very official.
‘While filling in my details, I became aware that the website was requesting answers that it should already have had on file.
‘It wasn’t until I clicked ‘complete transaction’ that I realised it was a scam. My card had been charged £64.
‘I immediately emailed the website owners to advise that I was notifying the US Embassy and the police that I had been scammed. Within a minute, they told me that the transaction had been voided and no money had been taken.
‘I cancelled my card to prevent them using it again.’
Our say on copycat websites
We’ve successfully campaigned in the past for search engines to do more to stop these websites from appearing in their results pages, but we want more enforcement action.
Google has set up an online form to let you report misleading adverts. We’d also recommend reporting the website you used to National Trading Standards.
Have you been caught out by a copycat website when applying for visas, a driving licence or similar? What happened?