Sometimes criminals can specifically target international students. They may call or email or contact via social media pretending to be from a legitimate organisation (such as the UK Home Office, or an education agent). They usually demand money (calling it a "fine" for a non-existent immigration problem) and claim that if you do not pay them quickly, there will be serious consequences (for example, deportation or cancelling your visa). Some of these scams will seem very convincing and realistic and it can be frightening.
In 2019 there were reports of Chinese students being targeted by fraudsters using WeChat and mobile contacts. Students are contacted on their mobile phone by people claiming to represent their bank, the embassy, police or other reputable agency and are told they owe funds immediately, often being offered preferential exchange rates on currency conversions.
How to avoid scams
- If you’re contacted by someone and it seems unusual, unexpected or just odd, please end the call/communication. If in doubt – stop.
- If the person who is contacting you is genuine they will be happy for you to check this and then get back to them.
- Legitimate visa officers will only meet you at their offices and will never contact you to ask for money.
- Don’t give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be very cautious of unsolicited offers of easy money.
- Research any company that makes you a job offer and make sure their contact details (address, landline phone number, email address and website) are genuine.
- Take extra care with job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they are legitimate.
- Watch for ads that are written in poor English, with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
You should then contact Student Life so we can offer you advice on what to do next.