Students are being targeted by a new mobile phone scam, in which victims take out phone contracts before passing the phones onto others.

Sold as a simple way to make quick cash, students who have been involved have ended up with thousands of pounds of debt as the scammers run up huge bills in their names.

Typically those students targeted are asked by a company to take out a phone contract for a high end-mobile for between 18 and 24 months, and to then send that phone on to the company involved.

In return, students are told they will receive monthly payments which will supposedly increase over time as the contract is upgraded.

In reality however, victims have ended up in huge amounts of debt as the fraudulent companies exploit the contract phones they have been sent, running up large bills which end up being the responsibility of the student.

Additionally, students involved have often unknowingly passed on sensitive personal information along with the mobile phones. The Police are stressing the danger of passing such information to unknown or unreliable sources and the vulnerable situation it can leave people in.

On the Action Fraud website the Police warn that those involved “may have revealed sensitive details about their bank accounts, credit or debit cards and personal circumstances to the scammers, making them susceptible to identity fraud”.

In August the BBC reported that at least 12 universities had been hit by the scam, including Sheffield and Surrey universities.

Most of the transactions and communications between students and the scammers are being made online, but in a small number of cases people have been approached personally at their universities. As of yet it has not been confirmed whether or not Sussex students have been targeted.

The NMPCU (National Mobile Phone Crime Unit) is investigating the scam through Operation Rosewood and all major mobile networks and suppliers have been made aware of the scam.

On August 23 individuals were arrested in relation to the crime, mostly from the South East area.

Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of the scam is urged to contact the NMPCU, details of which can be found at:

www.nmpcu.police.uk/contact/

 

Lucy Pegg

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The Badger

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