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These international students are being targeted by fake Home Office scammers


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Scammers pretending to be from the Home Office are targeting Indian and Chinese students, demanding money to settle alleged immigration violations.

The University of Manchester Students' Union has released a warning helping students to avoid falling into the phone scam.

Other bodies such as the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) and the Chinese Students' and Scholars Association (CSSA) also issued similar warnings. 

Riddi Viswanathan, International Officer at Manchester SU said that 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."

When asked, NISAU responded: "So far we have had 5 such reports over the last month but after the advisory went up, we had lots more students and alumni who have been in touch to share their experience with the same matter."

Noting that the scam had been tried before, NISAU added: "Over the last few years we would say there have been at least 30 such incidents reported to us and they have peaked in the recent months. Many students don’t officially report either because they are embarrassed or scared."

According to Manchester SU, the scammers use software to change their phone numbers, which means that students receiving the call will see an official Home Office or Police number on their screen.

The scammers may sound professional, persistent and authoritative, and may threaten students in order to prevent them from hanging up the phone.

NISAU's advisory provides further detail, adding that students might be asked to cross-check the number on their screen with the official numbers to verify its "authenticity".

The scammer may have the student's name and nationality, and inform them that they filled out some paperwork incorrectly when they last entered the UK. They then demand the student pays a 'fine,' or else face deportation and a 10-year ban from the UK.

Students are advised that the Home Office will never call them or demand their personal information, or that they pay a charge, and not to pay or engage with the caller. Students should also not confirm that any information the caller has is correct.

Students who have encountered such scams are encouraged to report this to Action Fraud, and to their university's and student union's international student advice service. NISAU also encourages Indian students who have been affected to contact them.

Featured image courtesy of Mike Peel

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