Canada ETA online application scam - how do I get my money back?

Just got scammed applying ETA to Canada. Normal price is 7 CA for the application fee, got charged 85 instead. It is the first search result after typing "official canada eta" in google, and their website is BEWARE.

I paid using my Commonwealth mastercard. Can I dispute the transaction and get my money back after it is completed?

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  • +21 votes

    Is the application legitimate? If it is but you paid more than you could have elsewhere, you have no case.

    • -7 votes

      Yeah it is. I fell for it as I thought the very first search result from Google would be a genuine website. BIG MISTAKE :( I don't get how it got ranked above the actual official site, and also the fact the Canadian government isn't doing anything to shut them down.

      • +15 votes

        If the application is legitimate then the business has every right to come out on top of the search. They may have paid for PPC marketing and/or invested heavily into SEO.

        • +9 votes

          Typical dramatisation by a newspaper to get readership.
          As usual 80% of what news services report is totally exaggerated rubbish.
          These eTA providers are legitimate businesses offering a legitimate service.
          Calling them scammers is no different to calling your local convenience store a scammer because they charge twice or 3x as much as Coles or Woolies.

          Rule of thumb: Always shop around

          • -3 votes

            @Amayzingone: I don't see an issue with calling 7-11 and other stores scammers. They use various tricks to make you pay more than you otherwise would


              @MikeKulls: But they are a convenience store, you pay more for the convenience that they offer… Go to a fully fledged supermarket if you aren't happy with 7-11.


                @fivespice: That's fine but they use techniques to basically rip people off. As an example they get products made specially for them in a small size and present them with just the top of the product visible so they look the same.

          • +2 votes

            @Amayzingone: It is different as they are implying they are official when they are not (though why anyone would think the Canadian government would run a site called "" is beyond me!).

            So while I'm in agreement that they've provided the service they advertised and so the OP has no valid case to demand it back, they certainly can be criticised.

        • +15 votes

          I got scammed buying a can of tuna at coles cos woolies had half price special.


        It’s not 1994 dude.


        My condolences.
        Ditto happened to me with USA visa - twice.



        Google does not rank websites by hand/human.

        It wouldn't make sense to assume the site at the top is the official one.


      Same thing as doing a police check online, so many sites that charge a fortune compared to going through the police directly.

    • +3 votes

      If you look at the official ESTA website FAQ section, there is the question:

      I've been charged more than US $14.00 for ESTA, why?

      The official response states,

      CBP cannot refund the money you paid to a third party website, however if you think you have been victimized, contact your bank, credit/debit card company, or PayPal and request a refund of any amount over the US $14.00 required by the U.S. government by disputing the add-on charges on your statement.

      I know ESTA is for USA, but ETA for Canada is very similar. If they claim they are "official", victims can dispute any amount above the official 7 CAD charge.

  • +3 votes

    I looked this up out of interest and the real government site is the first result on Bing and google. You may have clicked an ad that appear before the actual results. Both bing and google have 4 ad results for this search before the real search results.

    • -1 vote

      No this appears after the ad result. Type in "official canada eta" in google, the first non ad result you see is

      which is the scam site.

      • +25 votes

        It does appear first for "official Canada ETA" however there are a couple of clues that the site is a 3rd party

        1) It ends with .com, official sites in Canada have .ca at the end

        2) "This website is owned and operated by sweet startup ltd, a private company registered in the United Kingdom. We are not affiliated with any government or embassy.". Also, the just sounds dodgy to me anything with "official" in the title sounds dodgy as hell.

        The next one down is the official one. You just need to be more careful in the future.

        Anyway, it is easy to do and could happen to anyone.

        Using a 3rd party is completely legit and not a scam per se. Unfortunately, it does mean you have paid way more than you should have but there is nothing illegal about what they are doing so

        Can I dispute the transaction and get my money back after it is completed?

        No. I don't see how. You paid for an ETA and that is what you got. When they put your application through maybe check it is actually legit here

        • +1 vote

          I hear this kinda mistake often, "first on google" there needs to be a class on how to search and what to look for.

          A colleague recently fell for Viaggogo ticket scam, if she had looked beyond the first link she would have seen the word scam everywhere. In the end it could be claimed as a simple ignorant mistake.

          What really made me shake my head was that the show wasn't sold out… she could have bought the tickets on ticketek for 1/4 the price


            @Baghern: There are lots of classes on how to use search engines. Youtubes, papers, sites and entire books on the subject. Ppl just take to the Internet with no thought and can't even be arsed to check the ownership of the site via the about links or even the SSL certificate.

            These are 'legitimate' scams sites encouraged by our glorious leaders, all fully funded by the many layers of business that support legally structured theft from consumers

      • +22 votes

        Man, don't mean to rub salt into the wound…I know you were trying to to reduce the "scam" sites by adding "official" to your search query, but the irony is that is what they were banking on and what makes their site come first, because just searching "Canada eta" brings up the real one first!

        • +7 votes

          Yeah the irony. I emailed them and threatened to report them to consumer rights in UK (since it's where they're based) if they don't offer me a refund. They offered $60 USD refund which is better than nothing I suppose. Got played like a violin, need to be more careful next time as you said.

          • +29 votes

            @darkyjaz95: I’m surprised they offered anything. Don’t see how they are violating consumer rights to be honest.


            @darkyjaz95: You got very lucky then, they haven't actually done anything wrong. hundreds of commercial sites sell these services and while they are preying on those that don't know better, as long as they are actually providing the service they claim, they aren't breaking the law. In this instance you "might" have an argument that it is misleading to have official in the name, but then the fact a site had that in the name should have been your first clue it was dodgy as no government site is listed like that.


              @gromit: Registering a site with official in the name, that on-sells publicly available government services for profit, means the entire site is a misleading representation. Especially as it is carrying out automated transactions against the official, public website without making this clear- and in an over-priced fashion.

              However the kind of thinking that leads someone to trust an evil-ad slinger to interpret what they mean by official opens them up to far worse than being scammed by a legitimate merchant acting illegitimately in a stable jurisdiction.


              @gromit: If a business hasnt done anything wrong, why would they refund someone the majority of their purchase?

              They exist solely to mislead and profit off consumers thinking they are visiting an official Canadian government service.

              • +1 vote

                @cheesecactus: because it is easier to refund than fight or deal with someone. I am not suggesting these people are ethical, they are in fact scumbags preying in the poorly informed. amusingly enough if you read the site they actually offer a money back guarantee. They rely on most people not even realising they have been screwed on price or on them not being proactive to chase them.

      • +3 votes

        It clearly states on the website:

        This website is owned and operated by sweet startup ltd, a private company registered in the United Kingdom. We are not affiliated with any government or embassy.

        You just weren't paying attention, so you paid more than someone who is vigilant.

        • +1 vote

          Yep. Lesson learnt the hard way. I emailed them and threatened to report them to consumer rights in UK (since it's where they're based) if they don't offer me a refund. They offered $60 USD refund which is better than nothing I suppose. Got played like a violin, need to be extra careful next time.


        ha true, I had no idea the order of word change the results in google. if you search for "Canada eta official" you get the gov one first LOL

        If you did it recently and didn't get the ETA back I would see if you can call or email the gov site and get them to reject your fake site one (saying you filled it wrong) then ask for refund from fake site (as per their policy) can always dispute with card company if they don't. then log one with the gov site for $7

        Other option is to attempt a charge back with your bank on the grounds its not the official site as the name suggests therefore your not getting what you paid for.

      • +6 votes

        Its NOT a scam site

        You got what you paid for so its NOT a scam.

        You simply paid MORE than you could have paid.

        Just call it a learning excercise.

        And next time you go to the local convenience store be very careful you dont get scammed by paying much more than the local supermarket down the road.

        You have been warned!

        • +1 vote

          Its NOT a scam site

          I mean, it obviously is a business that relies on deceit. Just because a scam has some fine print to make it legal doesn't magically make it a legitimate business. If they were offering a better value product, more convenient even, for a sensible markup, that's a very different scenario.

      • +1 vote

        Dude….right at the bottom of the page you linked…."This website is owned and operated by sweet startup ltd, a private company registered in the United Kingdom. We are not affiliated with any government or embassy. "

  • +19 votes

    You haven't been scammed. You wanted an ETA and you got an ETA. You paid more than the going rate. You didn't do research. No one to blame but yourself.

    • +2 votes

      It is definitely a deceptive conduct/ripoff. They are posing as official site and charging enormous amount. This is the first site in the google search results after the 4 ad results typed "official canada eta" and I fell for it sadly. I don't understand how these 3rd party sites are still operational.

      • +11 votes

        they are still operating because fools pay them $85 to get them a CA$7 visa


          Yeah but why don't the Canadian government do something about it and try to shut them down? Why on earth are these 3rd party sites legal in the first place? There were no such sites when I applied for my chinese visa. I'm pretty sure if the government really wanted to shut them down it would have happened.

          • +2 votes

            @darkyjaz95: WRONG! There are other sites where you can apply for a China visa and charge much more money.

            Its all quite legitimate.

            You could also set up a web site doing this and make a killing.
            Just make sure you provide a good service and pay Google to get your web site up front.

            So long as you provide the service its all legitimate. The price charged is irelevent here.


        This is the first site in the google search results

        has nothing to do with

        deceptive conduct/ripoff. They are posing as official site

        • +2 votes

          Such 3rd party services should be all be banned. They are definitely deceptive and misleading.

          • +3 votes

            @darkyjaz95: Another case of consumer trying to blame the corporations/government when really all it comes down to is you weren't vigilant and didn't do your research. The reason these organisations operate is because you're the one funding them. It's not a scam. It's marketing and you were reeled in.

            • +1 vote

              @neyo: That’s the classic “individual responsibility” argument, ie “it’s your fault for being stupid”. Some would say the reason we have a government or even a society is to prevent corporations preying on and misleading consumers…

              You can be vigilant all you want, but one day you will slip up. It costs time, energy and expertise to keep up to date with the latest dodgy tricks. Wouldn’t it be better to know that all the options for sale are safe and fair? If the answer to that question is no, we may as well scrap the Australian Consumer Law and the ACCC immediately.


                @Procyon: Yes, but the government and society can only go so far. If they sell you a product that is defective or with an inaccurate product description, then ACL and the ACCC can do something. But if they sell you a product that is exactly what you wanted to buy then it would be very hard to argue misleading the consumer.

                I agree that it is the kind of behaviour that leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but in the end, no one forced the parties to transact business with each other. The buyer sought them out and was not forced to pay the amount offered, OP did so on their own accord. As for the "Fair" portion of your statement, what's fair will be different for everyone. Now if it weren't a free market, then everything would be safe, but I don't think it will always be "fair" either.


                @Procyon: There was no deception. They offered a legitimate service for an advertised price. OP accepted this price and was happy to pay. Vendor supplied service.

                OP finds a cheaper price elsewhere then decides to blame the government. For what? For not enforcing a monopoly where there is a sole provider of goods/services at a price point that will help OP sleep soundly?


      That's victim blaming. The site is a rip off and is basically a scam. Just because it is legal doesn't mean it is not a scam


    That is unfortunate. If you google ESTA you automatically get taken to the official site. No chance of being scammed. Canada should do something similar.

  • +3 votes

    I just tried your search and your scam site comes second for me, after the official site.

    But seriously, any URL with "official" in it has to get the alarm bells ringing.

  • +3 votes

    Follow links from Smart Traveller (Australian Government) if you are in doubt.

  • +17 votes

    Can we please change the title to..

    "I didn't read what I was buying, who other than me can take responsibility?"

    • -12 votes

      "I didn't read what I was buying, how can I mitigate my losses and sue the crap of them?"


        Not only that but you also gave them your identity and credit card.

        You might be in for a ride…

      • +1 vote

        oh dear

        "i didn't read what i was buying, but I'm entitled enough to think i can sue someone for their somewhat unethical but totally legal marketing tactics"

  • +2 votes

    Welcome to the world of travel. You need to watch things carefully . Probably the cheapest lesson you will find, from Forex rip-offs, guided tours etc.

    Dont you think the Canadian Govt would like to shut it down. So if they cant how to you expect anyone else can.

    Move on keep your eyes open next time, otherwise you will be caught again.

    BTW most of us have been caught one way or another. sometime.

    Its life experience

    • +1 vote

      Yep lesson learnt the hard way. I emailed them and threatened to report them to consumer rights in UK (since it's where they're based) if they don't offer me a refund. They offered $60 USD refund which is better than nothing I suppose.

  • +8 votes

    I feel scammed reading this or is it clickbait?

  • +3 votes

    OP - II have zero sympathy for your ….poor decision

    seriously? buying a visa from a .com site rather than .ca

    you didn't get scammed, you just made a really really bad decision.

    you didn't research.

    you didn't start by going through the Aus DFAT site which provides a link to the Canadian Visa site.

    "I was scammed" - obviously this is not in english so I'll translate - " I didn't know what I was doing and paid some 3rd party 10 times the amount I needed to and now I feel like a loser but am blaming the .com site that I bought from because it was the first site to pop up on google and I was too lazy/blaise to do any actual research and am now unprepared to suck it up (and put it down to my own stupidity) and want do a chargeback to recoup for my stupidity (because I was lazy and didn't research it and bought from a .com site)"

      • +7 votes

        webjet charges you a fee for booking a ticket with jetstar, when you could just buy the ticket from jetstar without the fee…

        obviously this must be a scam also, as, how did you put it, "trying to profit from travellers".

        Accept the error and move on - well done on getting your us$60 back, they really didn't have to do that. As others have said, it gets much worse out there, i'd hope you can get a lawyer on a retainer given the amount you'll need to use them if you want to sue someone every time something doesnt go your way!

    • -5 votes

      Sounds to me like you are a self righteous If you don’t feel sorry for someone and they are asking a question then why reply at all? Have you added any value or simply called the OP an Idiot? Does that contribute to society being a better place? Do you think your lack of empathy might make you look self centred?

      It’s such a shame that Ozbargain forums are full of keyboard warriors rather than people who interact with other ‘people’ in pleasant exchanges.

      OP, sorry you got scammed :)

      • -1 vote

        If you don’t feel sorry for someone and they are asking a question then why reply at all

        what does one have to do with the other?

        OP made a very poor purchase decision and is wanting to get their money back.

        why should I feel sorry for them?

        I've bought 10's of visas for my travels and research where to obtain them from the country's correct channels.

        it's called due diligence.

        hardly a keyboard warrior - just someone frustrated with the recent influx of users complaining about "being scammed", when they basically over paid for something which they should've researched .

        this post


        He didn't get scammed

  • +11 votes

    I have been charged more than $7 CAD for my eTA on another website. I think I have been scammed. How can I find out and can I get a refund?
    You may have used a legitimate third party service that charges more to get an eTA. These companies do NOT operate on behalf of the Government of Canada, but have websites that charge extra fees to give information and submit an eTA application to the Government of Canada website.

    The Government of Canada does not issue refunds for extra fees charged by third party websites.

    Find out if your eTA is valid
    As a first step, use the eTA Check Status tool. Enter the following information:

    eTA application number, and
    details from the passport you used to apply
    passport number,
    passport country of issuance,
    issue date, and
    expiry date.
    After submitting these details, you will see information about your eTA on the status screen. This information will confirm whether you are authorized to travel to Canada despite being charged more than $7 CAD.

    If it has been more than 72 hours since you applied and if you do not see any information or get an error message when you use the Check Status tool, complete this enquiry form. Note: It can take us several days to answer your enquiry.

    If, once the Government of Canada reviews your enquiry, it is confirmed that you do not have an eTA and there is no application in your name, follow these steps:

    If you are outside of Canada:
    contact your local police.
    If you are in Canada:
    follow the instructions at Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre or call 1-888-495-8501 toll-free.

  • +9 votes

    Any true OzBargainer would have typed in "Cheap Canada ETA" instead of "Official Canada ETA"…and lo and behold the Government site comes up first followed by posts about people being ripped off

  • +3 votes

    It's people like you who are the reason some Nigerians get so rich.

  • +1 vote

    Trying to get money back would be low on my concern list the sensitive personal information is of higher risk in unknown hands

  • +1 vote

    I wouldn't call it a scam site, its only fault is it's a paid service that somehow managed to outranked the official site in Google results.

    • +2 votes

      Why on earth are these 3rd party service sites with the word 'official' in them legal and allowed to exist despite their deceptive and misleading nature?


        Because it's near impossible to regulate and police.

        Think about the logistics, laws/jurisdictions and authorities that it would involve…it's a giant ball of red tape…

        If the countries ever got around to coordinate the shut down of a website, not only would it likely take months, but the borderline fraudsters/scammers/"evil genius" (uae the term loosely, can't think of another label) people that run these sites would just likely create a new website within a few days/weeks.

        Hence their existence.


        The domain name would've been a dead giveaway, somehow the OP had fallen for it.

  • +4 votes

    Thanks everyone for replying, this happened because I was careless and made a poor decision. FYI I emailed them and threatened to report them to consumer rights in UK (since it's where they're based) if they don't offer me a refund. They offered $60 USD refund which is better than nothing I suppose.

    • +1 vote

      It was an honest mistake. I don’t think you beat yourself up about it. Glad to hear you will get a partial refund. I wonder if there is anyway to report them to google too?


      60USD is actually pretty good considering converting that to AUD is about 83? considering you would have paid 85CAD (89ish in AUD) you technically paid $6aud for your application instead of $7.30 AUD?

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