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Student caught in phishing scam

[Ed. note: This article was featured by Ones to Watch.]

A second year international student from UEA has had his bank account closed after unwittingly being involved in fraud after replying to a scam email sent to his Webmail account in August.

The student received a so-called “phishing” email that pretended to be from Crowther Investment Corporation, a financial investment firm based in the United States.

The message offered a bogus position of Finance Officer, and he completed an application form provided by a follow-up email before then being offered training as part of his new role.

However, this training involved being part of a fraudulent transaction that saw money transferred to his bank account before he was then instructed to send those funds to an account in Ukraine using the MoneyGram money transfer service, for which he received a payment of £30.

The student’s account was then blocked by his bank, and he is unable to open another account in UK as his involvement in fraud is now logged against his financial records.

The student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, filed complaints with the police, Action Fraud, HM Revenue and Customs, and also the Financial Services Authority.

He also lodged a complaint with the Barclay’s branch on campus, where his account is based, before going to the Union of UEA Students and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for further assistance.

The Union will be helping him with his complaints, which he is now considering taking to the financial ombudsman.

In an interview with Concrete, the student described his feelings upon finding his account had been closed, and his disbelief that such a scam email could reach his Webmail account given the spam filters in use.

He said: “I felt stranded, as I had no money, and no way of getting any. I felt depressed, and I didn’t want to leave home. It has been one hell of a summer.

“The email came to my UEA account, so I would have thought it would have been a bit more secure.

“You expect spam emails to gmail, hotmail and other providers, but not to a university email account. There must be a way to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”

Responding to the issue, assistant director of strategy, policy and compliance at UEA information services, Raymond Scott, said: “The University of East Anglia takes scam and phishing emails very seriously.

“Students should never respond to unsolicited messages which seek sensitive personal information such as IT account details or bank details.

“Information services is also carrying out a number of technical initiatives to reduce the impact of phishing.

“University email accounts are filtered twice for spam. CanIT anti-spam software scans emails when they first arrive and this system blocks more than 20,000 emails per day – around 60% of the total number of emails. This is bolstered by Exchange, which traps most things which get through the CanIT scan.

“But even with the best filters, scammers are always working to outwit them, and some scam messages will be delivered to inboxes.

“The key message is – never send sensitive personal details in an email. And any email that asks for your bank account details or a password is a hoax. We will be holding an ‘Information Security’ fortnight to help raise awareness of the issues and these will be among the key messages.”

“University email accounts are filtered twice for spam. CanIT anti-spam software scans emails when they first arrive and this system blocks more than 20,000 emails per day – around 60% of the total number of emails. This is bolstered by Exchange, which traps most things which get through the CanIT scan.

“But even with the best filters, scammers are always working to outwit them, and some scam messages will be delivered to inboxes.

“The key message is – never send sensitive personal details in an email. And any email that asks for your bank account details or a password is a hoax. We will be holding an ‘Information Security’ fortnight to help raise awareness of the issues and these will be among the key messages.”

If anyone has received any suspicious emails or is concerned about phishing, contact concrete.news@uea.ac.uk and report it to the University.


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'Student caught in phishing scam' have 2 comments

  1. 12/10/2012 @ 10:07 am Alun

    He’s also waiting on his 10billion Ugandan dollars…

    Reply

  2. 10/10/2012 @ 12:19 am Barney Rubble

    If you are dumb enough to fall for this you really shouldn’t be attending university.

    Reply


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