UK university students have been conned out of over £100,000 over the past couple of years by Student Loans Company scammers, according to new research from Cyber Risk Aware.
72 students had their funds taken by phishers between the start of the 2015 academic year and December 2017.
Typically, recipients are tricked by official looking emails to click on malicious links, resulting in their personal and financial details being compromised.
Scammers Using Social Media To Con
Cyber Risk Aware claimed the threat extends beyond phishing emails. Scammers are increasingly using social channels to “friend” victims and creating fake events which require targets to hand over their personal details during registration.
The news follows figures released in April 2017 that revealed 72% of universities — staff and students — had fallen victim to phishing attacks over the previous year.
A few months later, Newcastle University was forced to issue an alert after a highly convincing phishing website was spotted trying to harvest credit card and passport details from prospective international students.
Many Scams Prevented
On the plus side, it has been revealed that the Student Loan Company’s Counter Fraud Services (CFS) department has prevented 463 attempted scams which would have resulted in losses totaling £785,718.
Cyber Risk Aware founder, Stephen Burke told Infosecurity that for education and awareness programmes to work, they must be personalised and tied to users’ psychological triggers.
“Students are tech-savvy and use multiple devices to access social media where they enjoy seeing how people like their posts, so crafting phishing campaigns around these emotives are easy to create,” he added.
“Whether this is an email stating someone has access to their account or a change in password being needed, students will respond rapidly, so phishing simulations can prey on this knowledge and tie them to an insecurity or concern.”
- Always be sceptical about emails or social media posts claiming to be the Student Loans Company - especially if they ask for money or personal details within this correspondence
- Do not hand over personal details or money to anybody from an unsolicited email. Always verify their details
- Contact the Student Loans Company via the details found on their website, or on any genuine correspondence you have previously received to check anything about your loan(s)
- If you do fall victim to this kind of scam, report it to Action Fraud and the Student Loans Company
- Seek support following any cyber crime by contacting Warwickshire Victim Support on 01926 682 693.