Scams Targeting International Students
Updated on 13 December 2022
Some criminals specifically target international students, often by making threatening phone calls, or sending intimidating emails or messages on social media to trick them into sending money or sharing personal information.
Whenever you receive a telephone call from someone who you do not know, remember that it could be a scam. Criminals use all kinds of ways to trick you into paying them money, or giving them valuable information about yourself. Not all scams are about immigration.
Is it fraud?
You can help protect yourself by being aware of the common features of these fraudulent calls (‘scams’).
The caller may appear to be genuine and convincing, because they have some limited information about you (for example, your passport number, as well as your telephone number and name).
The caller may give you their name and telephone number, to try to convince you they are genuine.
They may say that there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine or send a payment.
The payment is, most commonly, demanded to be made via Western Union as soon as possible, supposedly to prevent further action or investigation by the UK Home Office.
The caller will speak in dramatic terms, perhaps talking about deportation or cancelling your visa. This is a common fraudster's technique, to make you panic and become pressurised into paying the fake fine.
How to respond
If you receive such a call (or a similar contact by any other means, for example email or text) we advise as follows:
Simply hang up.
Do not give the caller/sender any personal information, and do not confirm that any information they have is correct.
Do not make any payment. The Home Office does not issue financial penalties. Nor does UKCISA.
How to report an incident
Report the incident to the University’s International Advice Service, who can report the fraud to Police Scotland and to the Home Office.
Report the incident to the police directly on 101 (non-emergency number).
Forward a scam text message to Ofcom (Office of Communications) on 7726
If you wish, you can report the matter online to Action Fraud.
Identifying a Legitimate Home Office Communication
Official Home Office email addresses are always in this format:
These are the formats of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office email addresses:
The Home Office will not contact people by phone in the methods described above, nor will they ask you to pay money for fines over the phone or offer legal services to you.
Often, Home Office communications come in the form of emails or letters. If you are worried about the legitimacy of any email or letter, please forward it to us at email@example.com and we will help.
Official UK government websites will always end in “.gov.uk”
International Advice Service
+44 (0)1382 385676