What are scams?
A scam is a criminal offence under the Fraud Act. It’s where someone tries to steal something from you, or defraud you.
Scams can appear in several different guises. They can come through your email inbox (“phishing”), phone, (“vishing”), social media accounts or letterbox. Scammers will use any possible means to get your money and/or personal information.
What scams to look out for in particular as a student?
Below is a list of the top scams targeted at students:
- Tuition Fee Fraud
- Student Loans Company and Tax Refund Phishing Emails
- Online tickets for gigs
- Accommodation and rental emails
- Money Mule scams
- Free Wi-Fi
- Social Media Scams
While there are many different scamming methods and ploys, there are a few key telltale signs. It’s also worth knowing how to avoid falling victim to phishing scams, which are often quite sophisticated emails that look like they’re from legitimate companies.
- you’re contacted out of the blue
- a deal that sounds too good to be true
- you’re asked for personal details
- you’re asked to make an immediate decision
- obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes
- you’re asked to keep something secret
- no contact details are given to you or, at best, just a mobile phone number or PO Box address.
International students may be more vulnerable as they can be targeted in particular.
Tuition Fee Fraud
The University has been made aware of a number of ongoing fraud and money-laundering schemes which target international students.
Fraudsters are connecting with students face to face or via social media platforms such as WeChat, Snap Chat, Telegram, Whatsapp and Facebook offering significant discounts and exceptional currency exchange rates when paying for tuition fees.
Students should not be attracted to these scams, they are usually illegal which means students can be found guilty of facilitating money laundering. Involvement in these scams can result in students receiving a criminal record whilst loosing huge sums of money.
The University strongly advise students, specifically international students, watch this one minute Crookes on Campus video which highlights how students can be targeted.
Students are also advised to read and share the following document issued by the Police's Dedicated Card & Payment Crime Unit.
What to do
If you receive a scam via any method you should report it to Action Fraud
If you receive a scam email, you need to tell the internet service provider (ISP) that was used to send you the email. If you receive a scam email that pretends to be from a company, let the genuine company know.
Ensure that your personal details and privacy are protected, in particular on social media. Please follow the advice on the University’s wiki pages.
Support at the University
Student Money Advice can offer advice and support if you do find yourself in financial hardship as the result of a scam, including how to apply to the University hardship fund or how to get a short-term loan.
You can also access support from our Counselling and Mental Health team.
Follow the University’s guide on phishing and other scams.
The Get Safe Online website has general advice about staying safe online and information about telephone and other types of scams.
The Money Advice Service has further information about telephone scams.
More information including examples of the most recent phishing emails received, is available on the University's wiki pages.