How to Identify Fraud Study Abroad Agents?

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Aarushi Jain
Updated on Apr 01, 2023 01:28 PM IST

In recent years, an increasing number of students have chosen to pursue their higher education abroad. Unfortunately, the technique is not well known, and fraudulent student agents prey on the weak. As a result, we have compiled a list of some tips to assist you in identifying fraud study abroad agents who are always on their toes to trick students.

How to Identify Fraud Study Abroad Agents?

How to Identify Fraud Study Abroad Agents: Considering that acceptance to prestigious Indian colleges and universities is getting extremely competitive, a growing number of young Indians are opting to study abroad. Many of these young people, however, lack the exposure that some may have acquired from their abroad trips, foreign-educated family members, and witnessing one's high school or college seniors apply to study in another country.

Hence, these people that lack the above-mentioned exposure are unaware of the several scams that are aimed at students. As an international student learning to live independently in a new country, you may feel vulnerable and a victim sometimes.

There are several advantages to studying abroad, and you will rarely become a victim of international student scams, but you must recognise the risks and know what to avoid. Most importantly, as an aspiring international student, you should be aware of the latest fraudulent activities that are taking place in the industry and know how to identify fraud study abroad agents and agencies that are scamming students.

Different Ways to Identify Fraud Study Abroad Agents

These study abroad scams, fraud, and deportation are serious matters. They stay on your immigration record and may render you ineligible for future visas. If you apply to study abroad with the assistance of a counsellor or agent, ensure that they are real and skilled. In any event, you must conduct independent research on what you should study, where you should study, and how to apply. Discuss with others, but lead your application process and judgements.

Having said that, no agent will tell you that they are a fraud; you must figure it out for yourself. It is good to be aware of the warning signs. Hence, enlisted below are some of the warning signs that will help you how to identify fraud study abroad agents in the market.

Your Agent is a Poor Listener 

If your counsellor or study abroad agent talks more than they listen, or if they believe that a 'job' is the main aim, they are incompetent at best. They cannot help you if they do not know what inspires you and what your work and life objectives are. At worst, the agents are not listening since they are too busy scamming you. And, inevitably, whatever is 'best' for you will also be the most profitable for him, even if they never admit it. Hence, one way to identify fraud study abroad agents is to check if they are good listeners and put their students’ interests at the forefront.

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The Agent Hides/Conceals True Information From You

Another technique to tell whether your study abroad agent is a fraudster is if he tries one of two things to keep you from fully understanding the application procedure. Either they go on and on about little and insignificant matters in an attempt to weaken your trust and increase your reliance on them, or they urge you to simply leave everything to them. In any case, they gently discourage you from being overly involved in the application process. A real student counsellor will assist you in understanding and navigating the procedure.

The Agent Makes False Promises that Cannot be Fulfilled Lawfully

University admissions, a student visa, or permission to work in another country are examples of these. This raises a big red flag. In reputable universities, admissions are processed and reviewed by the university or college, not by brokers. In certain nations, such as the United States or the United Kingdom, visa applications are first processed by an officially recognised agency, but the final decision to grant or refuse a visa is made by a consular officer. The official website of the relevant high commission or embassy should always be your first point of call for accurate visa information.

You can apply online as well. However, keep in mind that a visa does not ensure entrance into another country; you may be denied entry after arriving at a foreign airport if immigration officers suspect you of unlawful acts or intentions. No student agent can sway them.

Focuses on Inane Things

If your agent is more concerned with advising you on cultural adjustment, what to bring, and how to obtain off-campus employment, they are probably on the wrong track. A qualified and trustworthy study abroad agent will be able to address your queries concerning every step of your study abroad journey, right from the beginning, till the very end. They should be able to explain issues like accreditation, course credits, class selection, the academic calendar, accommodation, visa, cost of living, and practical training chances, among other things.

Continues Mentioning the Names of Colleges Other than Your Choice

If your study abroad agent or counsellor continues bringing up the name of one or more colleges that are not on your shortlist, and cannot explain why they are the ideal fit for you, it is another significant red flag and a way to identify a fraud study abroad agent. That implies that they are uninterested in you or your aspirations. An agent that accepts your money and regards you as a secondary priority during the application process is simply stealing your money. They may also be receiving compensation from the institutions they promote for each student they recruit for them.

How to Avoid Fraud Study Abroad Agents?

After knowing some of the permanent ways to identify fraud study abroad agents, it is now time to know certain tips to avoid these fraud study abroad agents and search for reliable and trustworthy study abroad agents and counsellors to study abroad. 

Know Your Requirements

The first stage is to identify and establish your requirements - what you want and what you anticipate from the process and your study abroad agent as a whole. You must first ask yourself the following questions:

If you are certain about these points, that is great! Do not be concerned if you are not as with time, you will definitely be.  

Do a Thorough Background Research on your Agent/Agency 

To begin, you may conduct a Google search to identify and shortlist a few study abroad agencies and consultants. You may also try to identify a few through your network. Following the identification of reliable study abroad agencies and agents, you must conduct a comprehensive background investigation on their past business, their network, partner universities, services they provide and more. 

Many education consultants are clear and visible on their websites. You can disregard those that are not obvious enough; nevertheless, this is dangerous and not suggested. You can learn about a few by extensively browsing the consultancy's website:

  • When did the consultancy begin?

  • What is its market position?

  • What is the team's area of expertise? How trustworthy are their study abroad agents?

  • Learn about people's successes and placements.

  • Connect with students who have accepted their counselling and gone abroad for studies.

While a background check is not the only item to consider, it will be quite beneficial. It will allow you to confidently proceed to the next phases.

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Refer to the Testimonials/Reviews on Social Media Pages

If you want to understand how to identify fraud study abroad agents and avoid them at all costs, testimonials are a wonderful resource. Customer success and feedback are revealed via testimonials and good reviews. Simultaneously, develop a negative picture just because you read a poor review. If you find several positive evaluations for a certain consultant that outnumber any bad ones, it may be a reputable consulting.

In addition, researching social media handles such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube may disclose a lot about the consultant's real work and market reputation. You must do all of your research before deciding on a consultant.

Connect and Ask All Your Doubts/Questions

While it is beneficial to have all the necessary chunks of information available online, you should not take all data/information for granted. After all, applying overseas is the most essential journey you will ever take in your life. If you want the top consultant, you must contact each of the shortlisted candidates and ask all important questions. The responses will provide insight into its competence in the study abroad domain.

The way a consultant reacts to your questions and concerns will reveal their behaviour, ultimately resulting in identifying fraud study abroad agents. An ideal counsellor should be able to dispel your concerns. Be thorough in learning about its genuine track record of putting students in prestigious colleges throughout the world; enquire about every component of the service that they are claiming or providing.

The quality and timeliness of its responses will disclose a lot about the consultancy's genuine worth. It is not a terrible idea to enquire about the fees so that you can determine whether the offers are worthwhile. You've discovered the right consultant if you feel more at ease and less anxious.

Look for Transparency

The first attribute of a trustworthy abroad education consultant is transparency. For example, suppose you come across a poor review for a consultant despite multiple positive testimonies. That does not necessarily imply that the consulting is of poor quality. It might also indicate that it is transparent. A good consultant will always take an open and honest approach, listening to your needs, correcting you when necessary, and preventing you from making bad mistakes. A trustworthy adviser will not make deceptive claims about guaranteed admission or scholarships to study abroad. It will provide the true picture and do what is best and most practical.

Consult with Friends, Family and Professionals in Your Network

To avoid fraud study abroad agents and select a reliable overseas education consultancy agency, it is advisable to seek suggestions from close friends, relatives, and professionals in your network. You would not have to go through the hardships of locating a reputable consultant in this scenario. Nonetheless, there is a great degree of comfort in depending on advice. You must continue to do your homework. The technique is simple: keep your eyes open and make an informed and independent decision after learning everything you can about the consultant.

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Popular Cases of Fraud Study Abroad Agents 

We occasionally hear news reports about Indian students who have been scammed by fraud study-abroad agents. Sadly, the number of such events appears to be increasing:

Before we cover the main soul of the article, which is how to identify fraud study abroad agents, here are some horror and popular cases of fraud study abroad agents that have scammed students in India who were aspiring to study abroad. 

  • Air India released 19 students bound for dodgy universities in California in December 2015. In April 2016, swarms of Indian and Chinese students and operatives were apprehended after US authorities staged a trap by establishing a bogus university.

  • When a US institution discovered that 25 first-year Indian students did not fulfil entrance standards, it asked them to leave (which essentially meant leaving not just the university but also the US, because student visas are university-specific), in June 2016

  • In the same month in 2016, an investigation into a California diploma mill found that it paid more to recruiters in India than it did to its employees. The school had 95% Indian pupils and no full-time instructors, and grades were fudged to keep students enrolled. Students were paying INR 8.5 lakhs per year for this 'education.'

  • In August 2016, the UK government announced the closure of 32 bogus institutions and the investigation of 30 more.

  • Very recently, New Zealand deported 150 Indian students who claimed they were unaware their brokers had fabricated financial information in their visa applications.

Also Read: 

Life Abroad for an Indian Student

How Universities Abroad Evaluate International Students

How to Handle Homesickness While Studying Abroad?

Profile Building Tips to Study Abroad

While keeping a note of the aforementioned factors and tips, you can easily identify fraud study abroad agents and can rely on more reliable and trustworthy study abroad consultants that can fulfil your dream of studying abroad. 

Aspiring to study abroad? Seek help from our trusted study abroad counsellors, by writing to them at abroad@collegedekho.com. 

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FAQs

Are study abroad visa phone scams still prevalent in today’s time?

Certainly, visa phone scams continue to be one of the most popular frauds affecting international students, with incidents recorded all over the world. The specifics may vary, but this fraud often entails: a student who receives a phone call from someone purporting to be from immigration officials, a school, or another reputable entity. They are informed that there is an issue with their visa or other immigration documentation. The student is required to provide personal information over the phone and pay a fee. They claim that if the fine is not paid, the student will be reported and may be deported.

What are student accommodation scams?

As an international student, one of your first concerns will be finding a safe, convenient, and economical place to reside. Sadly, fraudsters are aware of the importance of student housing and may attempt to take advantage of your desire to locate a place to live. You should be wary of the following potential rental scams:

  • Fraudulent property advertisements

  • Rented property scam

Can a fraud study abroad agent trick you with scholarship scams?

Yes, they certainly can do so! Studying abroad may be costly, so a scholarship that covers some or all of your tuition expenses will be quite appealing. Sadly, fraudsters are aware of how appealing a scholarship may be and will take advantage of your enthusiasm to obtain one. They promote a bogus scholarship, generally for a significant sum, and demand payment upfront when you apply. The scholarship offer will vanish once they get the funds.

How can you avoid scholarship scams as an international student while studying abroad?

While seeking a scholarship, keep the following points in mind:

  • Application Fees: Do not submit money in advance when applying for a scholarship. While applying for a scholarship, universities or other organisations will never ask for money.

  • Guaranteed Scholarships: Whenever a corporation promises you a guaranteed scholarship, they are most likely attempting to defraud you. Legitimate scholarships will never be marketed as guaranteed.

  • Loan Fees: Most scholarships do not need you to pay any fees, so be aware of those that do, especially if they require you to pay them in advance.

What are some of the most common student scams that one must be aware of?

  • Student loan fraud: This scam involves phishing emails that look to be from the Student Loans Company (SLC), to trick students into providing their account information to collect their loans.

  • Ticketing scams: Scammers sell false tickets to events to students, either through fake websites or by acting as ticket agents.

  • Job scams: It has been claimed that fake job advertisements targeting students ask for full application forms that include personal and banking information, as well as copies of identity papers.

  • Ghostwriting scams: In these scams, third parties offer to write a student's essay for a charge. But, once they submit their money, they never receive the final essay.

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