SEVERAL international students have been defrauded of substantial sums of money this term with up to £15,000 being taken in each incident by someone who is also thought to be a student at the University.
The students were told they would receive a scholarship or a discount on their tuition fees and living expenses if they handed over large amounts of cash, but this was not the case and they have since lost their money.
The University have confirmed two international students have been targeted this term, although there are also reports of a third incident. Steve Page, the Manger of Student Support Services, has said that a police investigation is now underway. Although there have been no arrests, the suspect is thought to be another University student.
Commenting on the most recent incident, Page confirmed: “The student who had the money stolen believed them to be a student. Whether or not they were, are a student, we don’t know.”
The University have since emailed all international students to alert them to the problem. “We are trying to provide what support we can for the students and we are, as you can see from the email, doing our best to alert all international students of the danger.”
However, international officers on the JCRCs were unaware of the incidents and were therefore unable to run an awareness campaign within their colleges. The Students’ Union Education and Welfare Officer, Neil
Barnes, commented: This is obviously something that the University are dealing with, but the impact seems limited so far – only official University Notices have been produced. But I’m sure that there’s work going on behind the scenes”.
Nonetheless, Barnes has initiated a more active campaign within the SU. “Once the new racial equality officers have been confirmed, I want to get together with them and work out how we can make students more aware of how they could be defrauded.”
Barnes has deemed the recent incidents as racially motivated.
“If students are being targeted because they are not from this country and may not speak English as a first language then they are definitely being targeted on grounds of racism. We shouldn’t shy away from calling this a racist incident, because it most certainly is.”
He adds: “there is an element of vulnerability amongst overseas students, especially if our culture is quite alien to them. It takes time for a new student to get used to living in a new country, and so there may be a period where they may be vulnerable to incidents like these. Also communication in a second language will always lead to misunderstandings.”
However, the University are advising all students to be vigilant against fraud.
Page advised: “I think any student needs to be aware that if people are offering any offer that involves you starting off by handing over some money, we would strongly suggest they treat it with significant suspicion.
“With respect to people paying for their tuition fees or University fees, they really should only do that to the University directly.”
Contact Steve Page:
Email: [email protected]
Tel. 01904 434140
University Welfare Services