One of the hottest topics going on right now is the issue of scammers who are scamming foreign students in the UK. There have been many such scams reported regularly, but it wasn’t given much importance earlier.
How does this scam work?
Usually, the fraudsters pose as if they are police or education agents or sometimes even as the officials from the home office. Then they ask the student to pay a fine for an issue that was obtained with their passports or visas and say if they don’t do that, they will be officially charged by the UK police and detained or deported to their own country.
Students believe the scam calls because of the facts and information these scammers can collect about them. Even the numbers they call the students with are present on the website of the UK’s Home office.
And one of the most interesting facts about these scam attacks is that the targets are rarely from any E.U. countries but largely from China and then India. One of the reasons for this can be because most of the immigrant students are from China only (30% of the total immigrant students) and then from India (7% of the total immigrant students). These attacks were taken seriously after a large number of Chinese students lost thousands of pounds to these scams, and the Chinese embassy finally issued an official notice warning people of it.
Though there is one more reason why most of the victims are Chinese students. There is a stereotype thinking that maintains amongst the attackers that Chinese people come from a very wealthy family, and they think robbing them of some money would hardly affect them.
The birth of it:
Everything has a point at which it starts. And so does this series of scams. Back in 2007, there was a student named Jaiyue Wang, who had committed suicide in the UK. She was in the UK for completing her studies. When investigations were carried out, it was discovered that she committed suicide because she had no money left. Along with that, she was in debt too.
She was scammed of 6000 euros. The scammers had tricked her into giving them 6000 euros by telling her that she had won half a million pounds. All she had to do to claim that prize was to transfer the 6000 euros into the Nigerian based bank account. These scammers didn’t choose her; specifically, it was just a trial and error method for them.
But soon, it became a practice for the frauds to target a specific group of people. And soon the specific group of people that were targeted became students. It makes sense because students panic way too fast, and thus, it is easy to fool them.
What did the UK do?
The UK also identified the issue as immoral and issued an official notice to the Chinese and Indian students. The notice contained all of the possible scam situations a student can come across. The following were mentioned in the notice:
- Scammers can pretend to be in the education department or the Home office or even say they are the police.
- There can be false claims made on the problems with Visa and passport.
- These scammers are also familiar with some very personal information most of the time, so they can sound genuine.
- Most of the times, the payment for the fine will be demanded through Western Union to avoid any punishment.
- There can be alternate methods for attacking someone, but most of the times, the elements will be identical.
The fake visa scam:
Recently, in 2019, a new scam came into light. It is being called the fake visa threat scam. And this is a surprising issue for everyone. When a first-year student reported that his laptop had been stolen in the Heathrow airport after which he started receiving scam calls.
The frauds claimed to be from the Chinese embassy instructing the student that Chinese police have discovered that the student concerned was involved in a money-laundering scam. But the student was clever enough to understand that something was fishy here and he reported the same to actual police.
Many of these scammers run their fake websites which are similar to some official-looking websites. They get all the information from different legitimate sources and then by customizing it a little, they can make almost the ditto same fake website.
Then they contact various students through this website and claim to be officials from the office and ask them to provide more of their personal information because it needs to be updated in the official records. Then using the received personal information, they later contact these students claiming to be the police and asking them to pay fines for any kind of issue or else they will be deported.
Most of the people today are aware of the phishing methods that these scammers use to obtain personal information, yet they are caught in their traps simply because the scammers sound so genuine. The UK government and the various embassies have also alerted the students of such scams and advised them not to follow up with any official without prior talking to the police in person. But still, the rates of these scams are just growing simply because students still lack awareness of such attacks.