Indian Embassy in UAE warns of online visa scam

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Indian Embassy in UAE warns of online visa scam
Dubai, Feb 7: The Indian Embassy in the UAE has unearthed an apparent online visa scam and has warned foreigners against falling victim to fraudsters operating a fake website claiming to facilitate Indian visas for them.

In a statement issued today, the mission said "some unscrupulous elements had created a website similar to the Online Visa Application website of the Government of India and are deceiving people to pay service fee".

The scam has come to light close on the heels of news that the Indian government has decided to extend visa-on-arrival and electronic travel authorisation to citizens of 180 countries, including the UAE - a move that is expected to significantly increase the number of tourists and other travellers to India.

While the official, authentic website for online visa application has URL address www.indianvisaonline.gov.in, the mission said, "Another website with the heading of Online Indian Visa Application Form and with the URL india-visa.co/index.php is available on the Internet".

"This website claims to have expertise in Indian tourist, business and long term entry visa. The website instructions ask users to pay service fee of 55 pounds or $90 or in equivalent Euros/Rupees. This website is only charging service fees and is asking applicants to pay visa fee later when applying at the visa centre," the embassy said.

According to the statement, the mission had also been informed that a few applicants had turned up at different BLS International Centres, the visa service providers of Indian missions in the UAE.

Though the number of applicants who have been cheated in the UAE was not made available immediately, the embassy said the applicants had visited the BLS centres after filling up the online visa application on this website and paying the "service fee".

Indian Ambassador to the UAE T P Seetharam told Khaleej Times that the embassy had already notified the Ministry of External Affairs about the matter.

"We will take all measures and pursue all options to prevent people from getting cheated," he said, when asked if he would request the Telecom Regulatory Authority of the UAE to block the site.

"This has happened in recent days. There have been some cases, not only here but in some other countries in the region as well. So, we felt giving maximum publicity to this is the best thing to do immediately so that we can prevent more people from falling prey to this," he said.

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