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One of the serious discussions going on right now among academic circles is the issue of scammers who are scamming foreign students who opt international destinations for education. Day over day many scams are getting reported, that the complexity and precision with which the scamming happens have become alarming in nature. However, it wasn’t given much importance earlier.

These scammers work in colors

It has been noted by legal authorities in most countries that generally scammers pose as policemen, education authorities, immigration officers or even as officials from the home department. They push the student to pay a fine over an issue that was obtained with their passports, visas or even international financial transactions like fee receipts and demand if they don’t comply, they will be officially charged by the police and detained or deported to their home country.

The hues of scamming

Almost all scammers run their fake look-alike websites which are similar to official websites. They get relevant information about students from different sources and customize to their scamming plans to con the students. They then contact students through these look-alike websites claiming to be officials from the office and ask them to provide more of their personal information because it needs to be updated in the official records. Then using the received personal information, they later contact these students claiming to be the police or legal authorities and ask them to pay fines for a non-existent issue or they will be deported.

Where did this all start

Such scams have been around for decades one way or the other. However such scams caught the limelight in 2007, with a student named Jaiyue Wang who committed suicide in the UK. Ms. Wang was in the UK for her higher education and was a good student with decent results. All seemed fine and the authorities were puzzled as to not being able to dissect the reason for suicide. Deeper investigations revealed that she committed suicide because she had no money left and had heavy debt on her head. She was scammed of 6000 pounds. The scammers had tricked her into paying them six thousand pounds by informing her that she had won half a million pounds. She was told that all she had to do to claim the prize money was to transfer the 6000 pounds into the bank account and she got enticed with the offer. These fraudsters didn’t choose her specifically, it was just a mass mailer and the student fell in their trap! Soon, this became a practice for the frauds to target the specific group of students, because of students panic way too fast, and thus, it is easy to fool them.

What students need to be aware of

Authorities of major international higher education destinations have identified the issue as critical and they have listed all of the possible scam situations a student potentially comes across. Some of the potential scams are mentioned as in:

· Scammers pretend to be in the education department, the Home office or even mention that they are the police.

· False claims made on showcasing problems with Visa and passport.

· Scammers are generally familiar with some personal information, hence many times they sound genuine.

· The payment for fine will be demanded through Western Union and not a direct payment in the bank/office with receipt.

· There can be alternate methods, but eight out of ten times, the elements will be identical.

How to deal with Scammers

Most students today are aware of the phishing methods that these scammers use to obtain personal information, yet they get caught in such unethical traps simply because the scammers sound very genuine. The governments, high-commissions, and embassies across the world keep alerting the students of such scams and advise them not to fall into such traps and in case of such contact bring this to the attention of university officials or police officers. But still, such scams are flourishing simply because students lack awareness of such attacks and fall into such traps due to ignorance.

Here is a scamming example of what one of my acquaintances went through in France;

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