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Fraud and scams

Fraud and scams

Fraudsters specifically target students so make sure you don’t get caught out. To help keep you safe, please see some examples below of the most commons scams targeted at students.

Don’t get caught out by money mules!

Young people are increasingly the targets of major fraud with one of the most common enablers of fraud being money mules. Victims can lose their savings, trust from family and friends and impact their mental health. Read more about what money mules are and how you can avoid this scam.

  • The ‘money mule’ fraud involves students being paid by criminals to hold money temporarily in their bank accounts.
  • They receive the money and are then asked to withdraw cash or transfer it to another account.
  • Students are tempted by this as they are often short of cash and are lured into the scheme by seemingly ‘easy money’.
  • You should never allow others access to your bank account informally in this way.
  • If found guilty of allowing someone to use your account for fraud this could result in a criminal record and up to 14 years in prison.
  • If you get caught up in this you are likely to have problems with your credit score or even just opening a bank account.

To stay safe:

  • Always be wary of offers of ‘easy money’ – if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
  • Be wary of anyone asking to use your bank account to temporarily store cash.
  • Watch this short video dramatisation, Crooks on Campus, showing how easy it is go be caught out, and the alarming potential consequences.

This can happen in a number of ways:

  • Fake email that appears to be from Royal Holloway, requesting fee payments or telling you about an apparent change in Royal Holloway’s bank details.
  • Criminals may present themselves as a government agency and request payment for an “international student tariff”, sometimes threatening to revoke student visas if payment is not made.
  • Fraudsters offer to pay fees on a student’s behalf, often promising a discount if the student transfers money to them instead of paying the university. The fees are then paid by the criminals to the university and the receipts shown to the student – but the criminals have used stolen credit cards to make the payments. When these are rejected by the university the student has lost their money.

To stay safe:

  • Always be wary of anyone offering to make a fee payment on your behalf, or requests for large upfront payments – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • Stay away from companies offering payment services that are not endorsed by Royal Holloway.
  • Never share personal, banking or financial information with anyone who cannot be verified by Royal Holloway.
  • Watch this short video dramatisation, Crooks on Campus, showing how easy it is go be caught out, and the alarming potential consequences.
  • Criminals advertise a property that actually belongs to someone else or doesn’t even exist
  • They then make excuses as to why it cannot be viewed by the student
  • They ask for a deposit up front, promising to forward on the keys
  • They keys never arrive and the student has lost their money

To stay safe:

  • Only use reputable high street rental agents
  • Always view a property inside and out before entering into any agreement or paying any money
  • Ask to see documents that are legally required such as gas safety certificates or energy performance
  • Check the rent offered is reasonable for the area – fraudsters may be trying to tempt you to part with your cash by offering a good deal

There are lots of ways criminals can target students in order to steal personal information like bank account details or to gain access to students’ IT accounts. Phishing attempts are particularly common, where apparently legitimate emails are sent by criminals to trick students into giving out sensitive information or to click on a malicious link.


  • Never click on links in emails unless you are sure that the source is legitimate
  • Always use strong passwords and avoid using the same password for all accounts
  • Always report incidents to IT Service Desk

For more information, see our Cybersecurity support page.

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