City students targeted by phishing scammers

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SHEFFIELD University students have been warned to be on their guard after fraudsters sent out emails trying to con victims into handing over their bank details.

At least two members of staff have received the emails – but it is not known how many students are affected.

The messages appear to have been sent by Student Finance England, the organisation which deals with student loans and grants.

It is believed the emails have been sent to university addresses ending ‘ac.uk’ used by both staff and students.

They ask for the recipients to click on a link which directs them to a false website where they are then asked to enter bank details in order to complete a ‘student finance agreement.’

The email warns failure to respond could result in student loans and maintenance grant payments being delayed.

The message contains the logos of the Student Finance England service and Directgov – an online Government information service.

Around 50 Hallam students were hit by a similar scam at the beginning of the summer term, swindling them out of thousands of pounds.

Dozens were tricked by an official-looking email asking for national insurance numbers and identity codes. The fraudsters then intercepted loan payments before they arrived in students’ accounts.

Sheffield Hallam University sent out an alert minutes after the problem was identified – but it was too late for some, with some losing more than £2,000.

David McKevitt, 22, a leisure management student, lost £1,220 but knew others who lost more than £2,000.

He said: “I gave my details to what I thought was the university and my direct debit never arrived.”

Both Sheffield University and the student union have issued a warning to students.

It says: “Online fraudsters, experts in the art of phishing, are currently targeting student email addresses.

“Very convincing emails claiming to be from Student Finance England are being sent to students and staff asking them to sign in to a website and complete a ‘student finance agreement’.”

Students are reminded that they will never be asked to update their bank details or verify their student loan payment details by email.

n Action Desk: P20