DMU students are being targeted by fraudsters to act as ‘money mules’

By Beatriz Ferreira

Fraudsters pretending to be officials are phoning international students at De Montfort University (DMU) and convincing them they have committed a crime or offence and need to pay a fine or hand over their bank details.

The fraudsters are claiming to be from the Home Office, an embassy, the police, or a bank and are sometimes claiming there is some kind of immigration problem which could threaten the student’s visa and lead to deportation.

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Foreign students are also being targeted through online job adverts posted on social media, according to DMU.

Peter Jackson, Assistant Head of Security at DMU, said: “International students tend to be more vulnerable, particularly Chinese students, coming from another country, not understanding British banking normal practice, being told by someone to do this, or being threatened by the official regime they came from.”

The criminals will often demand money, sometimes calling it a ‘fine’, or they might ask the undergraduates to provide personal information or bank details.

The university is advising students not to make a payment of any kind or provide any personal information if they receive such a phone call.

“This is a problem in the area,” added Mr Jackson. “Currently, Leicester is more prominent than some areas of the country. Whatever that has to do with the university or not, I don’t know but I don’t think so. We are like any other university.

“We have a large number of international students and many of them are managing a bank account for the first time. And perhaps they seem a little bit more attractive and therefore they are threatened.

“By allowing criminals to use your account, even before it happens, students are already committing a criminal offence. And the consequences if their bank finds out about this would be the account being closed, their details being put into the system and then no other bank would let them open a new account. That means that all the normal life things which require a bank account will be plotted through the roof.

“The students are victims in the end. The sort of people who use bank accounts for money laundering don’t care about the owner of the bank account. What they are really doing is asking you to take the risk for them,” he added.

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