Fraudsters and scammers are increasingly targeting students. We'll show you how to avoid being caught out.

What types of fraud should I look out for?

This is where students are approached by third parties, offering to give them a discount on their tuition fees if they pay through them rather than directly to the University. They may show you a faked receipt to ‘prove’ that the money has reached the University. However, this money is instead taken by criminals, leaving you out of pocket and with fees still to pay.

A money mule is a person who transfers stolen money between different countries.

Money mules are recruited, sometimes unwittingly, by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and wire the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.

Money laundering is a serious criminal offence. Even if you’re unaware that the money you’re transferring was illegally obtained, you have played an important role in fraud and money laundering and can still be prosecuted. Criminals will often use fake job adverts or create social media posts about opportunities to make money quickly, to lure potential money mule recruits.

Be careful of frauds related to your student loan. Phishing emails often claim that fees or maintenance loans will be terminated if further information is not provided.

They often occur around August/September as that is when many students receive their first instalment for the year and have lots of communication with SLC.

There are many forms of this scam.

Some scammers state that they are police and a warrant has been issued for your arrest. They issue a number of requests including that you should send money or photographs of yourself.  

Others will call to try to convince you that a loved one has been kidnapped or detained. They will put pressure on the victim to make a payment or a series of payments to the caller immediately. They use highly sophisticated surveillance or intelligence-gathering to build a profile of the victim. However, at its most basic, virtual kidnapping only requires access to a telephone and a phone number.

If you receive any calls like this you should contact the UK police immediately on 999. 

Who gets targeted?

Anyone is a potential victim of a fraud. A wide range of frauds are quite common, can be very clever and may seem legitimate. Students can be vulnerable to frauds, and there are particular groups which are targeted more often:

International students are often targeted due to their unfamiliarity with the UK student fee system. 

Students are approached, usually online, under the pretence that they could pay discounted tuition fees through a third party. Students then get asked to share personal details (e.g., their student ID, portal login details, their date of birth).

However, the fraudsters use stolen credit cards to pretend to pay fees and issue a fake ‘receipt,’ to trick you into reimbursing the money to them. However, because the university does not actually receive the money, you will end up losing your money and still have a tuition fee waiting to be paid.

New students with new ‘clean’ bank accounts are targeted by criminal gangs with opportunities to make easy money, by helping to move payments across accounts.

This is money laundering and can lead to a prison term for anyone implicated; in most cases the original criminal is never found. 

How can I avoid being a victim of fraud?

Please ensure that you only pay your fees directly through the University advertised route and by recognised methods of payment: visit our Online payments page.

  • No person or other organisation is able to give you a discount on your tuition fees.
  • Never share your bank details or university log-in details with anyone.
  • Failure to follow this process can result in you losing your money, which can have serious consequences on your life and studies.

Always be wary of a new friend or acquaintance asking you to hold on to money for them. Never give your bank details to anyone and periodically review your bank statements to ensure nothing unexpected or unusual is occurring in your account.

Phishing emails often claim that fees or maintenance loans will be terminated if further information is not provided.

You may be able to recognise it’s a scam, as emails may say ‘dear student’ rather than your name, or have bad spelling, grammar and punctuation. Scammers also try to pressure you into giving personal details by creating a sense of urgency, e.g., stating that you must respond within 24 hours, or you will not receive your loan.

Never click on any suspicious links or attachments. If in doubt, log on to your online SFE account separately on a secure browser and look for any notifications. The same principle applies for calls from SFE – never give personal details over the phone.


Tips to protect yourself from fraudsters

Do not share your bank account number, credit or debit card details, or PIN with anyone. Your bank will never ask for full details over the phone, like the PIN.

Be cautious of unsolicited offers of easy money or discounts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no discounts on tuition fees offered via our social media channels.

Never share details about your university accounts and login credentials with anyone, especially on social media with strangers, any third party, or agent.

Do not share or confirm any personal information like name, PIN code, address, phone number, date of birth. Fraudsters often have incomplete information about you and reach out to fill in the gaps to conduct a fraud.

Look for words like warning, urgent, important, deportation, threats, deadline.

Fraudsters often employ this tactic to scare their victims and make them transfer funds immediately. Stay calm, be aware and sceptical of such frauds and act accordingly.

Report anything suspicious as soon as you can