“This may provide the erroneous impression that the additional cost imposed by the commercial intermediary is a mandatory component of the application procedure,” the guidelines purportedly stated, according to the media.
When contacted by etiasvisatoeu.com, a press official from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs disputed the existence of such a document.
“I can confirm that no guideline has been given,” the press officer replied.
Despite the fact that the EU Commission has not issued any warnings to travellers in this respect, Besart Bajrami, founder of SchengenVisaInfo.com, believes that the threat from these fraudsters is genuine, and that many travellers may fall for it as the formal launch of the ETIAS approaches.
Bajrami explains how these fraudsters operate, saying that they are preparing to employ the same tactics as the United States Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA). According to him, the scammers pose as the official ESTA website and solicit travellers to pay an amount several times greater than the genuine ESTA application fee.
“They provide to travellers a form with the data they need to fill in, and then the same data is submitted by them on the official ESTA website. Then travellers pay a price that is three or four times the standard ESTA fee of $21,” Bajrami explains.
The Customs and Border Protection department has issued several warnings in order to prevent these websites from continuing to defraud visa-free visitors to the United States. It is believed that the EU will follow suit and develop a policy to protect travellers from being duped.
Visitors from more than 60 countries will need to apply for an ETIAS in less than a year in order to enter any of the 26 Schengen Area nations for vacation or business.
The application procedures will have to be performed online through an EU website that is not yet up, but the EU has indicated that it will be under the “Europa.eu” domain. A price of only €7 will be charged each application, and once approved, the travel permit will be valid for two years. The ETIAS will be provided for a longer amount of time the subsequent times a traveller applies.