Officers uncover university scam
Published 23/09/2011 | 19:36
A scam based on a fictitious British university which aimed to rip off foreigners has been uncovered by trading standards officers.
Somerset County Council was alerted to the con after a London university reported it had received an application from a student claiming to have a degree from Glastonbury University.
A wide-ranging probe which enlisted the help of, among others, the Florida FBI, discovered a website purporting to be for Glastonbury University and offering a variety of courses in "one of the world's most exciting cities".
Authorities have linked the scam to a Malaysian-based operation and say its main target was people from the Far East.
The website said all the courses were located in the centre of Glastonbury and used impressive images of the £32 million David Wilson Library at Leicester University to advertise it.
It boasted that the university was a "a leading private and independent university of world standing" and claimed an engineering programme it offered was "awarded a coveted 5 for Research in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2001".
Officers from the Metropolitan Police's e-crime unit have now removed the domain name and site - www.glastonbury-edu.org.uk.
Somerset County Councillor David Hall said: "I'm pleased that swift action was taken to remove this outrageous fake university site. I hope this is the last we will see of the fake Glastonbury University, but it may well reappear under another name."
The trading standards investigation revealed the address given on the site for the university is actually an empty office building in the centre of Glastonbury.
University of Leicester spokesman Ather Mirza said they were first made aware of the use of their images in August. Mr Mirza said: "The University of Leicester had no association with the University of Glastonbury and had not sanctioned use of any images or materials on its site.