Main types of scams targeting international students

There are a number of common scam types that scammers use to target international students like you.

The details of the scams will vary between different countries, but the key aspects are basically the same.

Scammers use these scams against international students like you because they know they work.

Government Impostor Scams

  • You will be contacted by someone who says they work for the government of your home country, or the country where you are studying.
  • Depending on the type of scam, the scammer will pretend to be from the police, tax/revenue department, or immigration department.
  • The scammer will usually say you have done something wrong – for example you have committed a crime, not paid your tax, or there is a problem with your visa.
  • The scammer will demand that you pay a fine to fix the problem

Tuition Discount Scams

  • Someone offers you a discount on your tuition fees.
  • They might say that they are a representative of the university or college where you are studying.
  • The scammer will usually request payment by wire transfer, cryptocurrency (Bitcoin), or gift cards.
  • If you pay the scammer they take your money and do not pay your tuition fees.

“Easy Money” Scams

  • Scammers advertise opportunities for students to make easy money.
  • In one example the scammer says that you will get paid to use your own bank account to transfer money to other bank accounts. This is money laundering. If you do it you are committing a serious crime and could go to jail.
  • In another example, the scammer offer you an ‘investment opportunity’ and promises huge returns. If you give the scammer your money, they steal it.

Accommodation / Rent Scams

  • Scammers advertise student accommodation in the city where you will be studying.
  • The accommodation appears to be good quality, and cheap.
  • The scammer ask you to pay a deposit to hold the property.
  • Later you find that the property does not exist, or it does exist but the scammer had no right to offer it for rent.

Virtual Kidnap and Ransom Scams

  • The scammer will obtain personal information about you and your family, often using information you have posted on social media.
  • You are contacted by the scammer, who pretends to be from the police in your country, or your embassy.
  • The scammer says that you have been involved in a serious criminal offence in your home country, and that for your own protection you should go into hiding (including cutting off all communications with family and friends)
  • The scammer contacts your family in your home country, tells them you have been kidnapped, and demands a ransom.
  • When your family can’t contact you – because you have followed the scammers instructions – they get worried and pay the ransom.