‘Fraud’ is when someone lies, or deceives you to cause harm, usually by stealing your money or personal information. ‘Fraud’ can also be referred to as a ‘Scam’ (a dishonest scheme).
All over the world there will be people who will try to trick others into giving away their personal information, bank details or tricking you to part with your money. This is usually done by pretending to be from a legitimate company or a government official. It is important to be wary of these situations to prevent identity theft, loss of money, plus numerous other potential consequences. If you are not sure if an email, telephone call or another type of contact is genuine, please contact the International Student Advisory team. We can assist in helping you check before proceeding.
Alternatively, you can contact Action Fraud, they have an online chat service and 24-hour reporting facility. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded, or experienced cybercrime.
It is important to report the situation to the police, as the situation could be a part of a larger scam/fraud scheme and the police have an Economic Crime Team who focus solely on this. Depending on the situation, the police may or may not give you a crime reference number. To inform the police of the situation call 101 if it’s an emergency call 999.
Types of fraud:
Fraud and Scam: A situation where a person tricks/ deceives/ pretends to be someone else or a company to gain money in a dishonest way. Taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability.
Phishing: Usually in the form of an email, where it will ask for you to log into your account through a fake link (which is made to look real). It could also ask for bank card information by getting you to type your bank details into an email or the link provided. Remember, these criminals have ways to make emails appear like they are coming from genuine companies.
Cybercrime: A mixture of different crimes which take place online. For instance, pretending to be a legitimate website, your computer being hacked, stolen password and account information.
Vishing: Vishing usually happen during a phone call, where the person calling tries to get you to share personal or account information, passwords and/or bank details. Please be aware, that these fraudsters can make the caller ID show to be coming from a contact or different number from where they are actually calling from.
Smishing: In the form of a text message pretending to be a legitimate reputable company, to gain your personal information or bank information.
A Money Mule is where you let someone else use your bank account to send money into. Many criminals target their recruitment of money mules at universities or colleges – either online, in person or via friends and family. By using money mules, criminals try to ensure that the consequences hit the mule instead of them. Money mules usually get recruited because they get a cut of the stolen money. This means they are involved in money laundering. This is a serious criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. HM Revenue and Customs have provided more information on this and what you can do to protect yourself from becoming involved.
Harassment: Harassment is not a type of fraud; however, sometimes it is linked to a fraud situation. Harassment is when someone you know, or a stranger behaves badly towards you which makes you feel intimated/humiliated or threatened. Sometimes people may use your conversation with them/ steal your identity/ Photos of you or use information against you to gain something. If they use something against you which may harm you, this is called blackmail. The University takes these situations very seriously and have a number of teams to help support you. You can report such incidents to #NeverOK.
Ways they may contact you:
- Phone call
- In person
- Fake website
- Letter through the post
How should I respond when I receive a call I suspect to be non-genuine or when you are not sure if a call is genuine?
- 1- Do not agree to anything they say
- 2- Do not give them any information about you
- 3- If you know it is a fake call, you can either hang up and block their number or tell them you know this is a scam and will be reporting it to the police, then hang up then block number
- 4- If you are unsure of the situation, do not provide them with any information, hang up and contact the International Student Advisory Team . If out of hours (gone past 5pm) contact Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040.
What should I do if I realise, I have given my information and bank detail away to the wrong people?
- Contact the International Student Advisory Team If out of hours (gone past 5pm) contact Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
- Contact your bank immediately
- Report it to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040 if you haven’t already done so
- The International Student Advisory Team will be able to advise further on the next steps, depending on the situation
What should I do if I’m not sure if the call is genuine?
- If you are not sure if the call is genuine, simply tell them you will check before proceeding, then hang up. They may offer you to hang up and call back on the official number. If you do this, ensure you call the number from a different phone. Some criminals will offer this to you as an option. However, they will keep the line open when you hang up by not ending the call their side. This means when you dial the number, you are reconnecting to the same call. This is not a method advised to verify a caller.
- Email the International Student Advisory team and tell them what happen, what they say, what they ask for, what you said to them, how did they contact you etc. The more information you can provide, it will help staff to gain a better understanding of the situation and how to proceed.
Common fake situations
- Phone call from Embassy saying you are in trouble/ police related/ got a suspicious parcel/ visa revoke / problem with your visa etc
- Outstanding payment
- Pretending to be DHL or other delivery companies, saying you have an unauthorised parcel
- Pretending to be from HMRC, saying your National Insurance number has been linked with criminal activities or say you are owed a certain amount of money due to tax return
- Pretending to be the local council, saying there is problems with your council tax and you need to pay otherwise they will send a debt collector or take you to court
- You need to pay for the COVID 19 vaccination
- Better exchange rate or cheaper ways to pay your tuition fees
- Online social media romance
- Fake cheap technology or other goods
- Pretending to be Amazon
For more information and support
- Action Fraud: Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime.
- Gov: UK Government information
This page gives you advice on protecting yourself from tricks and scams the Home Office is aware of.
- Thames Valley Police is one of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and is the largest non-metropolitan force. It covers over 2,200 square miles and three counties: Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
- Blackbullion offers numerous educational courses to help you better handle your finances while at University,
How to spot these?
Use this flow chart to help spot signs of fraud and how to get support.
- Are they saying you are in trouble?
- Asking for personal information
- Sounds too good to be true