A whopping 50 students from Hallam have lost out on loans, grants and bursaries due to a Phishing email.
In late February, early March a bogus email was sent through the University Blackboard mail system informing students that they could be entitled to more money than they were receiving.
One student who fell victim to the email was Jenny Saunders, a second year PR and Communications student. “When I read the email my first thought was, good, more money. I thought that this must be the new system of contacting students, I wasn’t suspicious at all, and everything looked so legit.”
The email which was sent had the subject line of ‘student grants’ or ‘university student grants’, therefore at first no query arose.
The scammers used a bogus SHU website and unfortunately successfully managed to obtain a number of student’s personal details. The details include student finance information as well as National insurance numbers.
David Mckevitt, another student who has become a victim to internet fraud reinforces the fact that he also didn’t have any suspicions, “I had no suspicions what so ever. The e-mail was sent from University and looked like any other e-mail.” David received the email on the 15th of March and it wasn’t until 2 weeks later that he got in touch with the Student Loans Company. “I was supposed to receive my student loan on the 28th March. However, when I checked it wasn’t in the bank. I waiting 2 days and then I got suspicious and rang up Student Finance, who then told me that the money has been paid, but into a different account.” As student finance had paid out the loans to students as far as they where concerned they could do nothing else. Both Jenny and David went to Hallam for help and were offered payment of £200 to tide them over, barely anything to the £1000+ which most students receive each term, especially those living away from home.
Both students are under pressure about whether or not they can financially stay at Hallam. David explains; “Obviously being a student, our rent comes out in instalments; therefore I have not been able to afford my last rent instalment. I have been in contact with my landlord and am in the process of ending my contract agreement, and looking for a place to stay for the remaining weeks of university and during my exams. I am also a final year student, these last couple of weeks at university are crucial towards my final mark, and with this incident, I have not been able to focus on this, with having more problems to deal with.”
The two both say this experience has caused them to be extra careful in these circumstances, warning fellow students to; ‘check all URLs and web addresses’ and also read through everything twice. David also encourages fellow Hallam students to join the Facebook group which he has set up since this ordeal, ‘To those been affected and lost their student loan.’
The investigation into the scam is still underway.
By Margaret Repton.