Scams and Risks


A scam is a scheme designed to deceive you to access your money.  They can happen via post, telephone, email, text message, website or even a visit to your home and can be disguised as a lottery win, prize draw, job offer or anything else.

This page will help you understand some of the larger scams that are targeted at students and gives advice on how to avoid them.

Cyber incident at the University

For more information about the recent cyber incident at the University, visit:

Don’t fall into the trap of essay mills and scams

Through tuition fees, you are already investing in yourself. You do not need to pay someone else for work. Be wary of emails, social ads and websites trying to sell you “plagiarism-free” assignments, and avoid the trap of paying for work that is not your own. Not only could you face severe academic consequences when caught, but many of these websites are known to scam students into signing contracts to pay hundreds of pounds for their services. 

Don’t cheat - seek support: Your Academic Advisor, a friend, the Students' Union Advice Service or The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Staff are there to discuss any concerns you may have.

International students may be contacted by someone claiming to work with the police, immigration officials (e.g. the Home Office) or international courier services. Callers may claim that they have evidence the student is involved in illegal activity or say that tax needs to be paid on a package. They will request that you send money and/or personal details and if you don't you will face negative consequences (such as deportation).

It is important never to give out your personal information such as bank details or money to an unknown caller. Especially if they refer to activity that you were not involved in or know nothing about. If you believe you are a target of such a scheme please report it to any of the support services at the University immediately.

You see a job advert for a 'Payment Processing Agent' or 'Financial Manager' but with no real skills or experience required - all you need is a UK bank account. Money is then transferred into your account, and you are asked to transfer this onwards for a small commission.

This could be for the purpose of money laundering, which could lead to you being convicted - whether you knew what you were doing was illegal or not!

It's important to be aware of the dangers of money laundering, or acting as a money mule, and to not be fooled by offers of quick cash. If caught:

• Your bank account will be closed.

• You will find it hard to access further student loans.

• It will be difficult to get a phone contract.

• You will have problems applying for credit.

• You could go to prison for up to 14 years.

Learn more here from our Careers Service

You are unexpectedly contacted by someone who claims that they work in stockbroking or a similar professions, and they have all your details. They offer you an opportunity to invest a sum of money (e.g. £750) and in return, they will pay off the full amount of your tuition or accommodation fees.

They also offer you a guarantee - you don't need to pay the investment amount until you are satisfied your fees have been paid off and you are encouraged to go online to check.

You log in and yes! The fees have been paid... however a couple of weeks later the bank contacts the University saying that the payment was made with a stolen card and YOU are liable to pay.

Never share your (or your friends') contact details or log in information with anyone. If you believe you are a target of such a scheme please report it to any of the support services at the University immediately.

If you decide to purchase something over the internet, ensure you trust the seller. Students regularly buy and sell event tickets online amongst other things. Whatever you are buying, do not hand over your money unless you are sure you will receive the product in return.

Many Facebook groups list known scammers so this is worth checking out. Other signs of a fake account are having few friends, no mutual friends or having joined recently. If you believe you are a target of such a scheme please report it to any of the support services at the University immediately.

This document originally produced by the National Crime Agency contains useful information in both English and Chinese.

The Home Office will never contact you asking for money or threatening deportation.

You do not need to provide your next of kin details at an interview. If you are asked for these details and your interview is filmed, please contact us as soon as possible.

Be wary of how much information you share (including photos) with online friends that you may not have met in person - no matter how genuine they seem.

If you, or your friends and family, are contacted with demands for money for any reason, please report this to the police and any of the support services at the University immediately.

Phishing is the name for an email or text that tries to trick you in to giving out personal information, or visiting fake websites. Responding to a phishing attack can:
  • Release your personal details to someone who may use them fraudulently
  • Encrypt your files and folders, demanding that a 'ransom' fee be paid to revert the damage
  • Stop your computer from working completely

*Be aware that phishing scams often target students around the three loan instalment periods in September, January and April*

For advice on practical steps to spot a phishing scam visit this GOV.UK Page 

For official advice from the University's IT Service, visit this pageIf you believe you are a target of such a scheme please report it to any of the support services at the University immediately.

If you think something is a scam don't reply, delete the email or hang up the phone and get further advice. 

Additionally, here are some key risks which could cause you to lose money. 

Due to the temptation of quick and easy cash from payday loan companies, it is easy to see why many people turn to these companies for assistance. Some companies specifically target the student market (and don’t even appear to be a loan company to begin with!) and making their product seem very attractive to students is making the problem worse.

These companies make their money through incredibly high interest rates and because it isn’t always possible to repay the loan within the agreed short amount of time, debt soon accumulates and before you know it, you are trapped in a vicious circle.

More information can be found in our scams and risks factsheet - including where to access support.


An underacknowledged risk that students face is problem gambling. Should this affect you, it's important to feel comfortable accessing support. Information about organisations that can help are below:

  • Student support at the University of Manchester. There is always someone to talk to at University, in a safe and none-judgmental space. Find the right support service for you. 
  • GamCare can offer you free and confidential advice about problem gambling whether its on the phone, online, or face to face.
  • Gamban can restrict access to all online gambling activity across three devices, and it's free if you sign up with your University email.
  • The NHS guide provides further advice on what to do if you're concerned about problem gambling, including a self assessment questionnaire.
  • The Beacon Counselling Trust offer free counselling for anyone affected by problematic gambling.
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority recommend many support services and peer support groups to help with problem gambling.

For more details of what to avoid and where to get help, see our scams and risks fact sheet.