More observant students may be aware that screens around campus have been encouraging vigilance when online and answering the phone. The messages are in response to known new phishing schemes that target students, particularly those from abroad. The Gryphon contacted the university for more information.
A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “we are aware of a nationwide scam targeting international students, which tries to use the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration name to steal money. The callers can sound very convincing and appear to be calling from a genuine Home Office number.
“On the advice of the Home Office, we are reassuring and advising students that UK Visas and Immigration will never phone requesting additional payment or personal details. If a student receives an unexpected call asking for money, they should end the call.
“If anyone believes they have been a victim of fraud or targeted for fraud, the International Student Office, at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building can help report this. You can contact us on email@example.com. Further information can be found on the student education website at: http://students.leeds.ac.uk/info/21506/your_visa/1003/fraudulent_phone_calls.
“We encourage anyone who is worried or concerned to contact the International Student Office, which offers advice and support on a range of issues.”
But international students are not the only ones targeted by scammers. Phishing and fraud “are all too common” according to another University source. In the age of digital communication, the anonymity and ease of email, messaging and text makes scamming a simple process that reaches thousands of people in seconds. And, as the professional use of social media becomes more commonplace, spotting a scam can be more difficult than you might think.
“We became aware in May that a number of students were contacted with fraudulent offers of scholarships via WhatsApp. We alerted students and staff about it promptly via the Portal, staff website, Twitter, and using screens around campus.
“We are always clear that the University of Leeds will never contact students using WhatsApp, and our IT security team provide training to help make staff aware of the issues.
“More advice about dealing with phishing can be found on the IT website: www.leeds.ac.uk/informationsecurity. If you think you may have been targeted, please contact the Scholarships Officer via firstname.lastname@example.org”.