Visa fraudsters are targetting international students
International students are being targeted by fraudsters pretending to be from the Home Office.
The Metropolitan Police reported that perpetrators call international students once they reach UK soil “claiming to be from the UK Home Office” and “demanding money for non-existent visa fees and fines.”
Many students find the excessive bureaucracy around their visas difficult to understand. This leaves them vulnerable to fraud.
Teaming up with Action Fraud, the national center for reporting fraud crimes, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have launched a campaign to spread awareness about these fraud crimes and how they can be minimised.
UKVI advises students to report any unexpected calls made to them on behalf of someone claiming to be from the Home Office.
According to UKVI, “legitimate Home Office officials” will not contact students and ask them to pay fines “over phone, using iTunes vouchers, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or money transfer services.”
UKVI and Action Fraud have warned students, “Fraudsters may tell you there is a serious problem with your visa. They may tell you to send money as soon s possible using different methods of payment to prevent some and of action, like deportation or cancellation of your visa.”
Although these calls may sound genuine, UKVI stressed that the Home Office does not use this as a means of communicating to students regarding visa issues.
In case of a fraud, students can seek help as the Action Fraud website where the necessary protocol is outlines clearly. Further, students can also contact their university immigration offices if they have any doubts about the status and validity of their visas.
An aspect of the hostile environment policy is the bureaucratic difficulty that people get mired in. Due to this policy, it is becoming increasingly easier for fraudsters regarding alleged visa fines.
Read more about how the hostile environment policy is affecting international students in the print run of London Student. You can find it in your Student Union at KCL, UCL, Goldsmiths, SOAS, etc.