This is a tale of caution from one of our colleagues at another University:
“We were alerted by our Finance Dept. to the fact that, between January and May, a number of our students had apparently made online, but also in some cases telephone, payments for accommodation fees using credit cards and that the payments subsequently turned out to be fraudulent.
The students were referred to me for disciplinary actionThey have all told a similar tale. They received a phone call out of the blue from a stranger who knew their name, mobile number and, in some cases, which of our student accommodation they lived in. The stranger told them that they work in finance, stock-broking, or similar and they are looking for small investments. They are convincing and sound plausible. They offer the student an opportunity to invest a sum of money, for example £750, in return for which they will pay off the student's accommodation fees of, for example £1650. If the student is concerned about losing their money they are told they do not need to pay anything until they are satisfied that their accommodation fees have been paid and they are encouraged to go online to check. They are asked to provide their log-in details to allow the transaction to go ahead. The accommodation fees are then paid using either a stolen or a fraudulent credit card. In the days or weeks before the bank notifies the University of the fraud, the student checks and finds their fees paid and hands over the agreed sum in cash.
In a slight variation on the theme, one student was approached at a local railway station and offered this "opportunity". In this case the story was slightly different in that the stranger told the student that they had a contact in Student Finance who could get a discount of between 40% and 50% on accommodation fees.
During the sales pitch, the stranger says that they work with other students at this and other Universities. They also ask the student to give contact details of friends who might benefit from this scheme which appears to be how they are getting students' details.
We have reported this to the local police who are investigating. I will be liaising with our accommodation office and Finance Dept. to see what we can do in terms of warning students about this scam. I suspect the scammers will go quiet over the summer vacation but in October we will have a whole new batch of naïve "freshers" for them to prey on.”
If the offer is too good to be true- then it probably is
Be suspicious of people or situations that offer a large benefit for very little in return.
Report fraud at Action Fraud