Many scams and frauds targeting international students are particularly new in other countries. International students are vulnerable to these frauds because they try to live independently abroad. This article shares the most common frauds, how to spot them, and the most effective ways to avoid scams for international students. Read this article carefully and be safe in your new country.
In this guide:
- Scam Call about Visa
- Accommodation Frauds Targeting International Students
- Scholarship Scams
- Money Mules or Smurfers
- Other Frauds Targeting International Students
- 4 Tips to Avoid Scams as International Student
Scam Call about Visa
It is one of the most common frauds targeting international students and other immigrants.
There are many reported cases of this fraud all over the world. Some details may change for everyone, but it usually happens when the international student receives a call claiming to be from immigration authorities.
The so-called official tells the student there is a problem with their visa or other immigration documentation.
They ask the student to give some personal details over the phone. Then they ask to pay a fine by money transfer through Western Union, Moneygram, or other paid services.
They sometimes ask for payment in the form of cryptocurrency, gift cards, or even iTunes vouchers!
They claim if a student does not pay the given fine, they report and potentially deport them!
🚩You can read more about the reasons for rejecting a student visa in the link below:
How to Avoid Call Scam?
First and foremost, if you receive a call like this, do not confirm any information they already have about you or provide any personal information.
Most definitely, do not pay any requested fine. Hang up the phone immediately, and report it as soon as possible.
An advisor for international students at the institution can help you report the call to the police.
No matter the country you study in, neither the government nor the immigration authorities will ever call you and demand money.
Never give your personal information to so-called authorities on the phone, and never pay anyone calling you like this.
Accommodation Frauds Targeting International Students
Finding somewhere safe and affordable to live in is one of the main concerns for many international students.
Scammers know how vital accommodation is for international students, so try to take advantage of finding a home.
There are a few potential accommodation frauds that international students and other immigrants should pay attention to them:
Fraudulent Property Adverts
Fraudulent property adverts are the most common rental scams that students should avoid.
It starts with the fraudulent landlord posting a property advert online. They may post it on social media or other rental platforms.
When an immigrant or international student contacts to ask about the rental, they ask them to send a holding deposit or a bank statement as proof they can afford the rent.
The con artist may claim they cannot tour them around the property because they are out of the country or ill.
Once the scammer receives the money, they either plan to cut off all communication or arrange to ship the documents and keys, which never show up!
The advertisements look legal because they frequently contain copies of advertisements for other housing.
Some con artists supply basic information like the address, the number of bedrooms, and the rental price but no respectable images.
Rented Property Scam
It resembles fraudulent, phony advertising. But in this instance, the con artist has rented a residence and then offered it to students in an advertisement.
While residing there, they show foreign visitors or students around the home to give the impression that it is legitimate.
Following the tour, they demand a deposit and the first month’s rent in advance, and occasionally they even give the student phony keys to the house!
The keys are not functional when the student comes to move in, and the con artist has vanished.
How to Avoid Scams like These?
First, be wary if the rent and location seem too good to be true. If something is too good to be true, most of the time, it is a fraud!
Then be alert if they ask you to send money to an overseas account. Many of these scams originate overseas, so officials cannot track them.
Avoid ads that do not include property photos or when many ads use the same images.
Check the provided contact information. Try landline numbers because scammers frequently give out the wrong ones, and be wary of any advertisements that include an email address.
The most important rule is to never deposit without first seeing the property.
Additionally, ask the university’s student union or international office for recommendations from a reputable agency or property owner if you want to avoid scams in the first place.
Offering a scholarship that will pay your entire tuition because studying abroad might be highly expensive is very alluring!
Unfortunately, con artists are aware of how alluring a scholarship may be. They take advantage of your desire to get these scholarships.
They advertise a fake scholarship, usually offering a significant amount. When you apply for the scholarship, the scammers ask for payment upfront.
Once you pay the so-called upfront money, scammers disappear. You never see them or their offer again!
🚩 You can read more about getting a scholarship to study abroad in the link below:
How to Avoid Scholarship Scams?
First, if an organization promises you a guaranteed scholarship, it is probably trying to scam you.
Legitimate scholarships never are guaranteed. They are probable, and not everyone succeeds in achieving them.
Another critical point is not to send money upfront to apply for a grant, scholarship, or other financial aid.
Colleges, universities, or other organizations that offer financial aid to international students never ask for money when applying.
Do not apply for the scholarship; notify the local authorities if you see any of the abovementioned situations.
Money Mules or Smurfers
One of the frequent scams that prey on overseas students is the money mule, and incidents of students being used as money mules to conceal stolen money are rising.
Money mules are approached by criminal organizations who ask them to accept stolen money on their behalf and move it on while taking a portion of the proceeds.
It falls under money laundering and is punishable by a steep fine or even time in jail.
Because they know that international students frequently require money to pay tuition, criminal groups frequently target them as mules.
How to Avoid Scams as Money Mules?
You should disregard any emails advertising easy money in exchange for allowing transfers into your account if you do not want to end up as a money mule.
Additionally, it is advised never to provide your banking information. Report any unforeseen payments you notice into your bank account as soon as possible.
It may be alluring to consent to receive money in exchange for a payment, but it is essential to keep the repercussions in mind.
Other Frauds Targeting International Students
Besides the scams mentioned above, there are many other forms of fraud targeting international students and locals.
In the UK, student loan scams are common. Phishing emails that purport to be from the Student Loans Company are involved.
In order to obtain student loans, con artists attempt to deceive students into divulging their account information.
Another fraud is ticketing scams, in which con artists provide students false tickets to events via fake websites or by impersonating ticket brokers.
Additionally, it has been noted that phony job postings asking for completed application forms target students.
The forms mentioned include copies of identification documents and personal and financial information. The student’s identity is then stolen using these details.
4 Tips to Avoid Scams as International Student
If you are an international student in a foreign country, especially if you are not fluent in your new language and culture, follow these tips to avoid any problems:
Take Online Security Serious to Avoid Scams
Online payment is a part of applying and registering process. If you are paying your tuition online, ensure the website is secure.
Any website address that requests users to share personal or financial information should start with the https protocol.
Also, when transferring critical information, avoid using unprotected or public Wi-Fi.
Never click on hyperlinks if you get an email or message on messenger apps from a suspected scammer.
Do not share Personal and Financial Information
you should never hand out credit card information, personal information, and banking details to anyone without a relationship with the college or university.
The best course of action would be for you to disregard the payment enablers right away if they are not confirmed to be approved by your university.
These con artists may assert links with nonexistent educational institutions!
Some even display fictitious official documents with fabricated institution logos.
University officials should know most of your sensitive information, so be wary of anyone requesting it.
This person might be gathering your information for fraudulent purposes. Always check with your university to see if a payment processor is connected.
Know Whom You are Talking with to Avoid Scams
Scammers could pretend to be government officials and demand money right away in exchange for not revoking your visa.
They might also ask for personal information from you, which you should never give out before making sure the requestor is a legitimate government entity with the right to ask for it.
You should first find out whether their requests are legitimate if you hear from someone pretending to be a government official.
If It is too Good to be True, It is not
Is someone offering to pay for you or guaranteeing you a discount on your bill?
Always be cautious! It probably is not if the deal looks too good to be true.
You risk not receiving your whole money if you accept their offer and give them access to your banking or financial information so they can make a payment on your behalf.
Fraudsters are pretty strategic in how they choose to approach international students.
They might approach you on campus while you wait in line to apply for a student visa or during a gathering for accepted students and their families back home.
Let us say you believe you are the victim of fraud. If so, take note of the information the con artist is seeking to obtain from you, cut off all contact with them immediately, and report the incident to the institution.
Keep in mind that reputable websites and officials at any university can assist you in confirming the legitimacy of the requested payment method or the identity of the person making the request.
If you have any experiences in fraud targeting international students or other immigrants, share them in the comments to help others to avoid scams and their consequences.