International students threatened with deportation in fake Home Office scam

Posted on: 2018-08-06 16:00:00

Fraudsters posing as Home Office officials or as the police have been targeting international students and threatening to deport them unless they pay money upfront.

National organisations have issued urgent advice to help international students – who come from non-EU countries like India and China – to avoid falling victim to a recent phone scam.

Students have been told by fraudsters they face immediate deportation and a 10-year ban from the UK for failing to fill out paperwork correctly – unless they pay a fine of up to £6,500.

Some victims have already lost thousands of pounds to fraudsters to avoid disputes with UK authorities, according to recent University of Manchester Students’ Union (SU) guidance.

It adds that fraudsters are using software which displays official Home Office or police numbers on the students’ screen to make it look genuine.

“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 notice from Manchester SU says.

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (Nisau) and the Chinese Students’ and Scholars Association (Cssa) have also both published advisory statements on the latest targeted scam.

Fraudsters are “authoritative and persistent” and have told students not to hang up the phone as the authorities will assume they are “implicit in criminal activity”, the Nisau advice says.

Riddi Viswanathan, international officer at Manchester SU, said on Twitter she was “absolutely appalled” international students were being “targeted” for money by fraudsters.

Yinbo Yu, international students’ officer at the National Union of Students (NUS), told The Independent: “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.”

Victims should not make any payments or give any personal information to the caller. They should call their university international student support team and report the incident to Action Fraud.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Legitimate Home Office officials will never contact individuals to demand payment over the phone for visa fees or fines.

“Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact the police.”

Action Fraud UK has been approached for a comment.

Source: Independent 

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