In the past, students have been targeted by clever con artists and have handed over substantial quantities of cash. Please read the following points and don’t get caught out.

Things to watch out for

  • Beware of bogus police officers. Real police don’t issue on the spot fines or request immediate payments of cash.
  • Money mules – if someone offers to transfer money via your bank account, avoid at all costs.
  • Banks details – police and other organisations will never ask you to disclose your bank card PIN numbers or passwords.
  • Personal data – be careful what personal data you make public on social media. Identity thieves trawl such websites to build up profiles to then steal people’s identities. Avoid posting anything online you may later come to regret either personally or professionally. You may also make yourself vulnerable to unwanted or inappropriate advances.
  • Avoid being taken in by sob stories from strangers asking for cash. They will be well-rehearsed and sound believable, but it will be a series of lies set to deceive you.
  • Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid leaving any computer unattended when logged on – always log off.

Money mules

Protect your money

An area often overlooked by students is the need to protect their money. The University has received reports that students across the country have been targeted by criminals promising to help students make ‘easy money’. These opportunities usually involve criminal activity, such as money laundering. For example, you could be targeted in the following ways:

  • Being asked to use your bank account to make a money transfer in return for cash - here you would be acting as a ‘money mule’, which is a crime.
  • Your tuition fees paid in exchange for cash. Here the criminals offer to pay your tuition fees (usually online or over the phone using a stolen credit/debit card), in exchange for you paying them a cash sum lower than the tuition fee charge.
  • Being approached by agents offering to make payments to the university on behalf of you or your parents (especially if you are an international student) and you are then directed to use a fraudulent operator for the transaction.
  • Receiving an email, reportedly from HMRC, claiming you are eligible for a tax refund and asking you to enter your details into a website to claim your money back. These emails are fake and should be reported to HMRC.

If you have experienced fraud, or are aware of fraud taking place, report it to Action Fraud.

Need help?

Oxford Brookes’ Information Security Office contains advice on issues such as how to spot phishing emails, keeping phones and other devices secure and what to do if you experience cyberbullying.

Personal fraud

The Thames Valley Police website has information about different types of personal fraud and how to keep your money and information safe.

Online and cyber fraud

The Thames Valley Police website has information about online fraud and cyber crime, and how to stay safe online.

Avoiding accommodation scams

If you decide to look for private student accommodation, there are a number of important factors to consider before signing a contract with a landlord or letting agency.

  1. Always view the property in person before signing a contract. Letting agencies will go to great lengths to make the property look appealing through high quality photography. However, online photographs of properties will not provide an accurate picture of the current state of the property.

    When you view the property, you will have the opportunity to check it thoroughly and highlight any existing damage. It is important to notify the landlord or letting agency ahead of your moving in date about any problems you discover, otherwise you may be liable for damage caused by a previous tenant.

  2. Always check your contract and deposit protection terms and conditions before committing to the property. Learn more about deposit protection.

  3. If you are moving into a property that is a shared space with existing tenants, it’s always useful to have an informal chat with them before signing the contract. Ask questions to find out what it’s like to live in the property and in the local area. Having amenities close by, public transport links and noise pollution are all important fact-finding questions to ask when choosing somewhere new to live.

  4. Make sure that your landlord is a member of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA). Oxford Brookes University has a list of approved letting agencies and can support you in finding a suitable property. Our Accommodation team is always available to support you on this journey.

Find out more about your accommodation options