Fraudsters are targeting international students by impersonating the Home Office or the Police, demanding “fines” up to £6,500 (US$8,398) for allegedly failing to fill out paperwork properly when they last entered the UK.
The Independent reported that victims are threatened with deportation and a 10-year ban from the country if they don’t pay up.
University of Manchester Student Union (SU) guidance cites the modus operandi as such: scammers use software to change their phone numbers so international students see an official Home Office or UK police number on their screens.
“They might intimidate you by using phrases like ‘deportation notice’, ‘late fee charges’, ‘10-year ban to enter the UK’ if you refuse immediate payment,” the warning adds.
Students are advised to not make any payment or divulge personal information to the caller. Any suspected calls should be reported to their respective international student support team or Action Fraud. The Home Office would neither make such calls or demands.
Riddi Viswanathan, International Officer at Manchester SU, said she was “absolutely appalled to know that the Chinese and Indian international students are being targeted for money by fraudsters.’
“It’s extremely sad to see how new international students who just arrive in the UK are victims of this fraud. Is this the first impression we want to portray to our international students? NO.
“I trust the UK police will take immediate action to identify the fraudsters and support the victims.”
Manchester SU, as well as the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) and the Chinese Students’ and Scholars Association (CSSA) have issued similar warnings so students don’t fall prey to the scam.
Nisau’s warning added that the scammers act in an “authoritative and persistent” manner to make students stay on the line, failing which the authorities will assume they are “implicit in criminal activity”. It added that there have been at least 30 such incidents in the last few years, peaking in the recent months.
Absolutely appalled to know that #internationalstudents are being targeted by fraudsters for money. International students, pls refer to this warning & advice statement from @ManchesterSU. @actionfrauduk Trust you to support our victims and identify the fraudsters. pic.twitter.com/x71LTcuTWC
— Riddi Viswanathan (@DiversityMcr) August 5, 2018
Speaking to The Independent, Yinbo Yu, International Students’ Officer at the National Union of Students (NUS), said: “It is deeply troubling to hear of yet another scam targeting students who have come here to study from abroad.
“These fraudsters are nothing more than vultures, and the police must identify those involved and act accordingly.
“It’s also worth remembering that universities have a duty of care towards their students, and could be doing much, much more to reassure students at risk that adequate protections are in place.”
“These fraudsters are nothing more than vultures and the police must identify those involved.”