A guest post from Degree Fraud Officer, Edward on the Hedd Team.
Sitting on a sofa in a central London branch of a well-known coffee shop chain, dressed in a smart blue jumper and white shirt, a man is talking with earphones in. He’s talking loud enough to be overheard.
‘We’re all middle men here’,
It seems he’s persuading the person on the other end of the line to join him in something.
(Over the sound of rattling coffee cups and background music)
‘We’ll get a grand each, no stress man. All that’s happening is that you’re chasing the uni for some guy’s transcript. Somehow…the transcript is sent from the uni…they send the wrong thing by mistake… I need to know the year of graduation so the guy was in the UK around that at least, so it doesn’t raise any suspicions. You know you can buy these novelty things online, but obviously they won’t be the same standard…yeah this one has the crest, the logo, everything…the complete transcript’.
The. Complete. Transcript.
The most important question now is, how does he get hold of these documents?
It appears that someone inside the university receives an order from our coffee man, then sends out a transcript ‘by accident’ with the details requested and both parties receive a bit of money on the side.
Luckily, the man was brazenly describing a fraudulent enterprise in a public space. A few tables away this caught the attention of a member of the public, who not only took pictures of the gentleman in question, but also recorded the phone call. He reported it to Hedd and we took it from there, informing the universities involved as well as passing all evidence over to the National Fraud Investigation Bureau, via Action Fraud.
The investigations are on-going, with one of the universities involved launching an internal inquiry.
The transcripts would have been authentic because they were issued by the university and could have fooled employers. The only way to detect this fraud would be to make a proper verification check with the university, whose genuine records would tell a different story.
Our thanks go to the quick thinking of the concerned citizen.