Hyderabad: The Ministry of External Affairs has issued an alert across the country as all the services related to MEA including Passport application have been hit by fraudulent websites and other third-party applications which are collecting the applicants personal details including duping them of huge amounts of money towards the related charges.
The situation has prompted the MEA to issue an alert across the country urging people to make sure that they are accessing the original official website, TT reports.
Several people in Hyderabad including senior IAS and IPS officers have already fallen prey to fake websites that have duped them of money by promising them of uploading their details online and securing appointments to apply for a passport at the nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in the city.
The MEA’s official website www.passportindia.gov.in has also approached search engine Google for taking action against the fraudulent websites that are showing up before the official website but it is learned that Google has refused to take any action against the websites saying the websites were carrying disclaimers that they were extending “consultancy services”.
Almost identical URLs:
These fake websites have almost same URLs with the MEA’s official website with little or minor changes in the domain name, government logos and additional services which most people will skip noticing said Regional Passport Officer E. Vishnu Vardhan Reddy while addressing a public conference yesterday.
Apart from collecting personal details of the applicants, these websites were also found to be charging ‘fee’ ranging from Rs.4,000 to Rs.5,000 with an SMS sent to the applicant confirming the ‘appointment date and time’ at the PSK. When applicants reached the PSK to submit documents, they realized that they were cheated.
“As these websites are tied up with Google, the moment an applicant types passportindia…., it is the names of these websites that are first displayed on the screen. We have taken up the issue with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology apart from lodging a complaint with Google to address the issue,” he said.