Money Scams, Tricks and Frauds
Salford is generally a safe place to study but students at any university need to be vigilant about being targeted by fraudsters. Unfortunately, some criminals may attempt to target you for purposes of Money Fraud.
- Never share your bank account or debit/credit card details with anyone unless you know and can trust them.
- Never email your credit or debit card details to anyone, even the University.
- Be wary of offers of easy money. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Be observant for communications like ads and emails with bad spelling and grammar.
- Don’t allow someone that you do not know or trust to transfer money through your bank account.
- If you receive suspicious texts, do not reply or click any links.
- Be mindful of the information you share about yourself online.
If someone contacts you and it seems unusual or unexpected, contact our Income and Treasury team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will offer you some advice. If the person who contacted you is genuine then they won’t mind you checking and then getting back to them.
Below are some of the known money scams, tricks and frauds that we are aware of and advice on how to safely pay your tuition fees.
Safe ways to pay your fees
Third Party Tuition Payer Scam
This is a scam that affects mainly students from the Chinese and Indian community, however it has also impacted other students. Students are targeted by fraudsters who offer to go online and pay your tuition fees at a discounted exchange rate, sometimes up to 20%.
The fraudsters may contact you via 'friends of friends', WeChat or even on the streets in cities’ such as Chinatowns and offer these discounted ‘exchange’ rates if you agree immediately.
You will be asked to pay money to the fraudster, who will then pay the University. Sometimes the fraudster even pays the University before you pay them, they then show you the email receipt to prove its paid. This is a method used to lure you into the scam by giving you confidence that the fee is paid.
The fraudsters are in fact using compromised (stolen) debit/credit card details to pay your fees to the University. These payments are then reported as fraudulent by the genuine card holder and recalled by the bank, meaning the money is taken back from the University leaving you in debt with your tuition fees and out of pocket.
Never agree to pay your fees in this way. To be safe you must always pay your fees as directed below.
Further information can be found in the following leaflets:
Being asked to be a money mule
You may be asked to receive some money into your bank account and transfer to another account, keeping some for yourself. Don’t be fooled by quick cash offers. Be very wary of anyone, including someone you know, who asks you to do this.
This may be a fraud called ‘Money Laundering’ and is used to fund serious criminal activities. Money Laundering is a criminal offence and may land you in serious trouble with the Police, affect your credit rating and result in your bank accounts being frozen. Keep yourself safe by:
- Never opening a bank account in your name for someone else.
- Never allowing your bank account to be used to send and receive funds for other people.
- Never sharing your PINs, passwords or passcodes with anyone unless you know and trust them.
Student Loan Company Fraud
Fraudsters target students, especially around loan payment dates, posing as the Student Loans Company (SLC) asking for personal information or to pay money. This can be over an email, text message, phone call or on social media.
Messages are often designed to create a sense of urgency such as 'failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed'. They may also address you as 'student' rather than your first and last name.
The SLC will never ask you to confirm your login and password, or ask for bank details or personal information by email. Please be vigilant and do not disclose personal information or follow links. Check the government guide to identifying a phishing scam for more information.
HMRC scam calls targeting international students
We have received reports of a scam involving calls from telemarketers claiming to be from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) stating that the University has not paid HMRC tax that you owe. The caller then states that you must pay a lump sum of money and threaten that, if the sum is not paid, you risk deportation and your studies being ceased. The callers have told students not to ask anyone at the University about any outstanding tax payments and not to mention this payment to friends or family. The caller may address you by your name and may provide a ‘badge ID number’.
This is a scam – do not pay any money. HMRC will never call you directly to ask for money and will never ask you to pay any money on behalf of the University. HMRC provide information about scams and phishing attempts on their website.
If you received a call similar to this or ever receive a call from anyone you don’t know asking for money on behalf of the University, please email Income and Treasury at the University.
Chinese censorship and crime scams
Recently there have been reports of Chinese students being coerced into believing that they have contravened China's censorship, or committed a crime. The scammer in some cases has pretended to be a Chinese Policeman or from organisations such as The NCA (National Crime Agency).
The initial scam may start out from a telephone call regarding a parcel stating from DHL or a Fake Royal Mail's with the following number quoted Tel: 0843 586 3924. Then the fraudster uses aggressive tactics convincing the victim that they have contravened China's censorship, or committed a crime and then asks them to ask their family members to send them money, sometimes vast amounts.
Further information, including how to report the scam can be found in the leaflet below:
RedZei phone scam
This is a scam targeted at Chinese-speaking students. Students are being targeted by a group dubbed RedZei (or RedThief) who call victims once or twice a month from a unique UK-based phone number, leaving an "unusual" automated voicemail message if the receiver does not answer.
These voicemail messages are to socially engineer victims into giving up personal information, which can then be used for identity theft or for other malicious purposes. The scammers are known to impersonate trusted organisations including the NHS and delivery firm DHL.
Frauds relating to the invasion of Ukraine
Please be aware that we are currently seeing some increased cyber security incidents and phishing activity relating the situation in Ukraine. We’d like to remind everyone to be vigilant.
It is common for hackers to use the latest news story to trick you into opening their messages and clicking on links or opening attachments. We have seen an increase in phishing through email, SMS, and social media related to the situation in Ukraine. These can be messages asking for you to contribute to aid funds, sign petitions, or read the latest news. If you receive an email, text, or social media post with an attachment or asking you to click on a link that has no relevance to you and/or you don’t recognise the sender, please do not open the attachment or follow any links.
If you receive any messages of this nature to your University email, please click the ‘Report Message’ button in Outlook. By clicking the 'Report Message' button, the email will be safely deleted from your mailbox, and IT will be informed.
Purchasing currency via non-regulated markets
We have a responsibility to make you aware that by purchasing currency via non-regulated markets you are opening yourself up to a risk of being perceived by UK authorities to be engaging in a form of money laundering.