An Indian students’ group in Britain today called for action to support members who had been subjected to a fake calls scam, which involves fraudsters claiming to be from the UK Home Office and threatening innocent students with deportation. Indian National Students Association (INSA) UK resolved at its annual National Executive meeting in London over the weekend to provide support to students affected by the scam.
“At the meeting, representatives from Westminster University and King’s College London chapters highlighted the issue of fake calls being made to Indian students and resolved to provide support to those affected,” INSA UK said in a statement. The case of Hardik Somani, from Westminster University, emerged as a case study after he was targeted by fraudsters posing as “officials of the Home Office”.
He was threatened with immediate deportation for failing to fill out paperwork “correctly” and was warned he faced a 10-year ban from the UK unless he paid a “fine” of up to 6,500 pounds. INSA UK said it supported him through the process of alerting the UK authorities. Shweta Kulkarni, President of the students’ body, said: “INSA UK was set up to speak up on behalf of Indian students and we are keen to address all issues of concern, including such fake calls and visa hurdles. “We urge the authorities to take action against the fraudsters and increase the level of support for the targeted students.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Legitimate Home Office officials will never contact individuals to demand payment over the phone for visa fees or fines. “Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact the police.” Earlier this month, another Indian students’ body — the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK — and the University of Manchester had issued alerts directed at Indian students, warning them to be wary of such scam phone calls. It called on students not to engage with such callers, who use software to create “spoof” numbers that may seem legitimate. “The fraudster may use the terms ‘deportation notice’, ‘alien registration form’ and ‘late fee charges’… Do not make any payment… Report the matter to Action Fraud,” the advisory said.