Fraudsters offering false Hope cause distress

August 21, 2008

Students are being sold fake places on courses at Liverpool Hope University by bogus agencies in Nigeria.

Fraudsters posing as educational and scholarship agencies are encouraging prospective students to contact them through a fake Hope University Yahoo email address before sending out conditional "offer letters". The letters carry the university's letterhead, are signed with bogus admission staff signatures and offer university places in exchange for a non-refundable fee of £150.

The university's admissions department said it had received "a flurry of messages" over the past eight weeks from Nigerians who had sent cash in response to the letters.

Nancy Cooke, the international recruitment manager, said: "It is hugely disappointing when I am contacted by applicants who genuinely believe they have been awarded a place at our university after paying large sums of money for one of these fraudulent offer letters."

She added: "The most distressing outcome of these scams is when I have to inform the applicants that Hope has no record of them at all and that to apply they would need to do so through the official university recruitment process."

Liverpool Hope has 58 students from Nigeria among its 3 students from outside the European Union.

Ms Cooke urged all international students considering applying to British institutions to contact the universities directly to learn which overseas agents they use.

The university has alerted other Merseyside institutions to the scam and has informed Education UK, the official British Council website for overseas students.

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