Scam warning after £200k loss to student studying in NI

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The Police Service has issued a warning after an international student from China studying in Northern Ireland was scammed out of £200,000.

In a fake phone call from someone in recent weeks, the woman was told she was suspected of being involved in money laundering. Two other men posing as officers from 'Beijing Police' spoke with her and threatened her with arrest if she didn't pay £200,000. After transferral of the funds, the woman never heard from the men again.

Detective Superintendent Richard Thornton said: "This is a really despicable, calculated crime. These fraudsters contacted the student online, and even went as far as dressing in uniforms claiming to be officers from 'Beijing Police'. These fraudsters went to great lengths to make themselves appear genuine, but that's the last thing they were."

The Police Service received two similar reports last year of scammers who had targeted Chinese students studying in Belfast. They lost a total of £105,000 to fraudsters who claimed they were from the 'Chinese Embassy' and 'Chinese police'.

"Being aware of the signs of scams can help prevent these fraudulent crimes and keep people and their money safe,” said, Detective Superintendent Thornton, who added: "The reality is scammers will stop at nothing to trick you out of your money, for your loss and their gain. Being scam aware can make all the difference."

The easiest way to stop a scam is to apply these five rules - always hang up the call immediately; always delete texts requesting personal information or bank account details; never call the number back; never click on links in text, or respond to unsolicited texts; never ever transfer money to another account. So, it’s important to make clear you should never transfer money to another account having received a call from someone you do not know. Hang up the call.

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to police on 101, to your bank immediately, online at or call 0300 123 2040. Information and advice is also available at or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni

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