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Beware of Visa Scammers Using Search Engine Ads
Beware of Visa Scammers Using Search Engine Ads
15.06.2023
GENERAL
ECONOMY
TECHNOLOGY

Statements from the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) indicating that the rejection rate for Schengen visa applications has risen to 50% and the congestion at visa application centers have created opportunities for cybercriminals. Experts advise caution when it comes to search engine ads promoted by visa scammers.

TURKEY — With the arrival of the summer season, plans for international travel have gained momentum. However, statements from the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) reveal that the rejection rate for Schengen visa applications, which are popular in the agenda, has reached 50%, with one out of every two applications being denied. Taking advantage of the congestion at visa application centers and the increasing rejection rates, cybercriminals have found opportunities. Berkun Meral, Founder of Yandex Leading Certified and Google Premier Partner IQUEEM, warned those planning to travel abroad about visa scams.

Beware of visa scammers!

Berkun Meral pointed out that cybercriminals take advantage of current agendas and utilize all available means to turn those agendas in their favor. He said, "Schengen visa applications, which frequently make headlines with the opening of the holiday season, are often searched on platforms like Google. We know that similar fraud cases have occurred in Singapore related to banking transactions and in Canada related to work visas. Visa scammers focus on the current needs of users through a cyber attack method known as 'social engineering' and successfully manipulate individuals using emotional tactics."

Cybercriminals use search engine ads

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in one of its published reports, drew attention to cybercriminals using search engine ads to adopt the identity of trusted brands and infect users' devices with ransomware. Berkun Meral, Founder of IQUEEM, emphasized that search engine ads are an important resource for cyber attackers during periods of increased search trends. He stated, "Attackers who advertise on search engines like Google using the right keywords can easily develop interfaces similar to those of intermediary organizations and consulates. They take advantage of the carelessness of those planning to apply for a visa by making promises such as creating appointment quotas for a prepayment or offering the chance to obtain a visa smoothly."

"Applications should only be made through consulates and authorized institutions"

Berkun Meral stressed the importance of applying for visas only through consulates and authorized institutions and concluded his remarks by saying, "It is crucial for users to perform their application and appointment procedures through the official websites of consulates or authorized intermediary organizations. Therefore, they should verify whether the website they accessed through a search engine query is the official site, and they should not share personal or credit card information without reading all the disclosures and verifying the reliability of the website. As an agency that has created success stories in tourism and is recognized by Yandex and Google as one of the best companies in the world in its field, we find it meaningful to raise awareness on this issue."

Contact: Tülay Genç | [email protected] | +31 30 799 6022

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