Scams and Fraud



This section contains useful information that will help you to recognise when someone is trying to commit fraud or “scam” you.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you should speak to the International Office at your school or college, or contact your local Garda station to report it. You can also contact ICOS.

Some criminals specifically target international students by phoning them and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation, such as the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD), the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), an education agent, or even the embassy of their home country based in Ireland.

They demand money, calling it a "processing fee" or an “administrative fee” and claim that if you do not pay them quickly, there will be serious consequences, such as deportation or cancellation of your visa.

Common features of fraudulent calls

  • The caller may appear to be genuine because they have some limited information about you, including your passport number, your telephone number, your email address and/or your name.

  • The caller may give you their name and telephone number in an attempt to convince you they are genuine.

  • The caller ID number often appears to be the genuine phone number of the organisation the caller claims to be calling from.

  • They may say that there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine, an administration fee or send a payment for some other reason.

  • Most commonly, payment is demanded to be made using Western Union as soon as possible, supposedly to prevent further action or investigation by ISD or GNIB.

  • The caller will usually speak very dramatically or urgently to encourage you to panic. This is a typical technique used by fraudsters to pressure you to make a payment before you can consult with your college.

Remember, no official government service or institution will ever ask for payment over the phone or via services such as Western Union. If anyone ever asks for payment over the phone, always ask someone in your college, for example in the International Office, for advice.

What to do if you receive a call (or email/message) you suspect may be a scam

  • Do not panic.

  • Do not give any personal information, and do not give confirmation that the information that they have about you is correct.

  • Never make a payment over the phone, and do not arrange to make another form of payment.

  • Immediately end the call and contact your college International Office for advice, or contact ICOS.

  • Contact your local Garda station to report the fraud, even if you do not make a payment or if you are not 100% sure that the call was attempting fraud. It is also a good idea to contact the organisation that the caller was claiming to work for so that they can warn other service users.

Examples of Scam phone calls reported to ICOS

Here are just some examples of fraud that have been reported to ICOS recently:

  • Students were contacted by telephone by an individual claiming to be from ISD. The caller said that the student was the subject of a Deportation Order from authorities in their home country and faced deportation that same day unless an administration payment was paid immediately into an account in their home country. The caller ID number that displayed was a real ISD number, so the call appears legitimate. ISD have said: “ISD does not and will not contact applicants by telephone in relation to any such payments to accounts abroad. ISD does not under any circumstances request payment for its services over the telephone. Furthermore, any persons facing deportation from the State will have been involved in a detailed process and would be notified in writing by registered post in advance of any planned deportation.”

  • Students from India, as well as other nationals of India living in Ireland, have been contacted by an individual claiming to be from the Embassy of India in Dublin. Similar to the previous example, the caller claimed that the student faced immediate deportation unless a fee is paid immediately. The Embassy of India in Dublin has confirmed that they never may telephone calls asking for deposits or the transfer of money.

Rental Accommodation Scams

There is huge demand for student accommodation and it is now more challenging than ever to find somewhere to live.  It is important to be aware that every year there are reports of scams on students seeking accommodation - e.g. taking payment online for accommodation that is not for rent.

Here are some common examples of scams that the CCPC have identified:

  • The scammer copies listings of genuine house and apartment rentals and advertises them with a different email address and phone number. They will usually claim they are out of the country or make some other excuse as to why they can’t show you the home. They may send you photos and even a set of fake keys in exchange for rental payment. This delays you finding out that you have been scammed.
  • Another scam to watch out for is when the scammer actually does rent a home. They then advertise it as being available for rent and shows potential tenants around the house while they live there. They then collect the deposit along with the first month’s rent and disappear with your money.
  • A property may seem fine right up until the point where you move in. After viewing a property and paying a deposit, when you turn up at the property to move in you may find the keys do not work. The scammer who showed you the property is nowhere to be found and is not contactable.
  • You have been communicating with the scammer by email and they ask you to pay the deposit directly into a bank account. Then they ask you to forward the transaction receipt along with a form of personal ID. Your money is then stolen and your ID is used for fraudulent activity.


Tips to avoid accommodation scams

These are our top tips to avoid being scammed. 

1. Inspect the Property in Person - Whenever possible, visit the property in person and take a picture of the landlord’s or letting agent’s photo identification before making any payments. Avoid only relying on online photos or virtual tours.

2. Use Secure Payment Methods - Use secure payment platforms or methods that offer you protection. Avoid making cash payments or transferring money directly to someone without verifying their identity and always try to see the property in person before paying.

3. Ask for a Contract - Request a written contract (also known as a license or tenancy agreement) that clearly explains the terms and conditions of the rental agreement,including rent amount, deposit and any additional fees.

4. Do Trust Your Instincts - If something seems too good to be true, trust your instincts and investigate further before making any payment. Scammers will often try to rush you into making decisions but take your time and do your research.

5. Do Seek Advice - Threshold can give you advice if you are unsure or suspicious about a property. You can contact them on their freephone helpline - 1800 454 454.

You can also find useful information through the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and on how to identify rental accommodation scams.