These days in cities and towns in Ghana especially Accra, one can notice the competition for space on trees , electricity and telephone poles, etc by various pieces of square and rectangular boards with inscriptions such as SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, Study Abroad, Scholarships, etc starring as you drive or walk pass the streets. Not only are our streets littered with these notices but our newspapers have had their fair share and I am sure these littering can be observe in some of our schools by groups who visits schools to convince students of opportunities in education abroad. A vast majority of these groups and individuals end up defrauding unsuspecting students and parents in huge sums of money under the pretext of securing admissions, financial aid and visas for students. In a July 2008 Daily Graphic, the story of many students who have been deceived by groups who had taken various sums of money from these students was published.
These groups and individuals adopts various tricks in baiting their victims and we have produce below some characterisctics and modus operandi of some of these groups and individuals to help you avoid becoming a victim of study abroad fraud.
Organizations and Individuals advertising that they can get you I-20
Our attention has been drawn to some adverts in the classified section of the Weekend Mirror which states “Travelling to the United States of America (U.S.A) as a student and you need admission into a university with I-20 and invitation call……...” To our uttermost surprise our enquiries into this advert gave very worrying indication of fraud and we wish to warn members of the public about such organizations and individuals promising to get you I-20 and other travelling documents. A man with a locally acquired American assent tried hard to convince our caller that he could get her an I-20 in a month. The big issue with that advert is that 1-20 is issued only after admissions and Colleges and Universities have deadlines for admissions.So logically what they are saying is that they issue these I-20’s themselves. This is because if a school admits students in June and I contact these individuals and organizations in February, how can they get me an I-20 in June which is four months away when they promise to get an I-20 in a month? You may read more about I-20 on the main US State Department website http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#need. Our further inquiries indicated that they even promise to get you WAEC certificates and Bank Statements to support your Visa Application. Please do not fall prey to such fraudulent activities as you may jeopardize your prospect of securing visas from embassies and high commissions in Ghana.
Individuals Claiming that American Education is NOT EXPENSIVE
If you live in Accra, I am sure you have seen those boards that have the bold inscriptions that it is wrong to say that US Education is expensive and I am sure you have also heard some individuals tell you that there are over 3, 000 scholarships you can make use of to fund your education in the US. The plain truth is that these individuals and organizations making these claims have not lived and schooled in the United States and do not know how financial aid works especially in a changing world as we have today with the economic down turn. The aim of such claims is to convince you to pay them to teach you to write admission tests such as SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc and students and parents have to be very cautious in taking such words serious. The truth about financing a US Education is that it is EXPENSIVE. Families are expected to bear as much as they can of their son's or daughter's educational costs. Despite Ghana's outstanding record in winning scholarships, the vast majority of Ghanaian families are paying their own way, and the average cost is about $20,000 per year. Families must start planning for higher education finance when their children are young, because only the most outstanding students, students who have devoted months to planning successful admissions strategies, can hope for full scholarships at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Most scholarships or financial aid are partial awards that cover only a fraction of the total cost, so parents must be prepared to contribute as much as they can. The more financial aid a student needs, the more competitive the admissions process. These international education fraudsters will claim that they can assist you make a high score and qualify for a huge scholarship, please ask them to give the contact of their students who have benefited from their service and who are in schools in the United States for you to verify. Our research showed that a particular international education fraudster lists names of non existing students to convince students that they can also make it.Currently this international education fraudster has pasted fictitious visas of students on the premise as prove of successes. Please be careful since many students have had their education interrupted due to these deceptions by study abroad fraudsters.
Organizations and individuals who claim to be representing, associating and subscribing to colleges and universities or are prestigious members or subsidiaries of organizations and therefore can guarantee you admissions and scholarships.
The activities of these organizations and individuals are on the increase. Students and parents should take note that many factors are taken into consideration before colleges and universities arrive at admissions and financial aid decisions. For you to be granted admissions into any higher institution of learning you must meet some minimum requirement and you must complete a signed application form. Please take note that, the decision for anyone to be offered admissions or to be granted financial aid is not delegated to any individual or organization outside the country you want to study and we warn you to be careful about whites and locals who promise you instant admissons and scholarships into US Colleges and Universities. Our advice is for you to contact the college or University in question directly or visit the US Embassy for verification.
Organizations and Individuals who claim they are supported by the Collegeboard or the Educational Testing Service of America or claim to be subsidiary of organizations that administer admission tests.
The obvious reason why these claims are made is for you to trust them and we advice you to be careful in believing what they write on their website and what they paste on their premises. We have found out that some have fictitiously designed their own letters and certificates in the name of the organizations they claim to be supporting their work. The question you should ask yourself is whether you cannot have access to whatever information or materials directly from those organizations? The truth is that you may find trustworthy information and forms directly from the website or write directly to the US organization in question for the information. For example, some of these fraudulent individuals and organisations would showcase a Collegeboard High School Code as evidence of their credibility. Please ignore those code as it does nothing in giving any credibility. It is a code for High Schools who have applied for recognistion from the College Board and you ask yourself whether some of these individuals and organizations are High Schools recognized in Ghana. Always be on the look out! For example, Timeline Trust LLC is attached to the College Board Code 617047 and we do not use that as prove of our credibility. That enables the collegeboard to make available to our offices Test Registration materials for students. These test materials are bountifully available at the US Embassy in Accra so let no person deceive you!
Organizations and Individuals who list various US Universities as providing various sums of scholarships to international students.
In their effort to deceive you to pay for tuition for them to teach you an admission test, some of the study abroad fraudsters list various US schools usually in a tabular form on their website or in adverts and in their campaign literature to indicate to you that you may access such scholarships. Be extremely careful about putting your hope in such data. Our research on one such website showed that almost all the scholarship information on the website were false. Those that were even true, the scholarships were not for international students. For example that website list Brown University as a university that applies a need blind policy meaning your financial status is not considered in making admission decisions and if you are admitted you will be provided the full financial aid you need to attend school. However, the information on Brown University’s website was clear that the need blind policy applied to only US citizens. If you visit such fraudulent websites and you do not cross check all the information from the specific school’s website you will only end up not without admissions and financial aid.All the money you have spent on the process of applying for admissions and financial aid just wasted when if you had the accurate information you will have concentrated on another school where you are more likely to be admitted with the amount of aid you need for attending school.
Organization and Individuals claiming that you should not burden the US Embassy and that they compliment the efforts of the US Embassy.
These fraudulent statements are made to dissuade you from getting access to the right information and you should never trust such statements.The best place to go for information on opportunities of studying in any country is the Embassies and High Commissions of the countries in question. You will certainly visit the Embassy for your visa so why not take advantage to find out more from official sources by visiting the Embassy? We encourage you to visit the US embassy to make enquiries and to get well informed. For example, our job is to teach the test by assisting students who may not be able to learn on their own master the test and also supervise the processes of making a winning application. The US Embassy has never said it is burdened neither has it said that it needs compliments so treat with disdain such entities craving for importance by using deceptive words.
Organizations and Individuals who portray themselves as US Citizens, former residents of US, Past students of Ivy leagues schools, etc
It will surprise you to note that most times organizations and Individuals who portray themselves in mannerisms that seem as if they can secure you admissions, financial aid and visa because they have associations with the US end up being people who have never set foot on US soil. If even one has visited, schooled or worked in the US, is it that which can gain you admissions and scholarships? Do not be moved by such claims and statements and do not use such portrayals as yardsticks for determining your potential successes. Those who truly have had US experience will be honest with you and would concentrate on areas of strength of their program. The fact that someone has been to a place does not mean that you will also necessarily be there by associating with such a person. There is one such organization whose manager tells unsuspecting students that he attended an Ivy league school and has his family staying in the US when in actual fact he is a High School graduate who was a student worker at our company in our formative years and has had no US education experience.
Organizations and Individuals Claiming to be representatives of Scholarships bodies which have only websites and fictitious US addresses.
Our attention was drawn to this kind of fraud when the Weekly Mirror published an advert to the effect that one of such organization was giving scholarships to students. When we visited the website to check on the authenticity we noticed that most of the schools listed had their deadlines past. Our checks on the the Universities listed on the schools website proved our suspicions right when we were informed that they were not aware of such a scholarship organization or foundation. We advice you to thoroughly check on such adverts before paying any amount of money. Most times they will charge huge sums of money and we discourage you from paying any money until you have confirm the authenticity of such organizations from the US Embassy. They will usually ask you to make payments in bits and would always keep postponing issues on your admission and financial aid letters. They sometimes design fake admission letters and documents and you should be on the look out for such fraudsters.
Organizations who publish adverts claiming they are association of study abroad placement agents.
Another evolving fraudulent tactics is for individuals or organizations to place adverts claiming that the association of study abroad placement agent would be visiting various locations. They sometimes come along with names of people genuinely providing services in the area of study abroad programs on their tour claiming they are members of their association to convince people that they are authentic. Sometimes they come with fair coloured people who acts as foreigners just to deceive you. These people usually go on tours around the country and people in the regions easily fall victims to their fraudulent activities.
Organizations/Individuals claiming that Admission tests such as SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc are not a must for admissions into US Colleges/Universities.
We advise students to be very careful about such claims. Do not pay money to any group claiming that test scores are not necessary for admission unless you have contacted the college or University in the United States as this is not the case for traditionally good schools. Good schools recognized by properly accredited institutions which the US Embassy recognize will request you to submit a test score on at least one admission test such SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc. In the very small exception where test scores may not be required please note that your grades must be very good. The second point to pay attention is the fact that the US Embassy includes test scores as one of the documents in your credentials that you should bring along when coming for interview. You may Visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#need to review the requirements. We advice students to meet all requirements and should take note that they can do well on these test when they take preparation from centers that have the experience and the resources to prepare them for a successful study abroad. Students should therefore take note that, such dubious groups and individuals include no admission test required in their advertisement to fool you to pay their non-refundable fees only for them to tell you that you need the test or for it to be requested later and you are found wanting.
Organizations/Individuals claiming that, student will pay fees when they arrive in the United States creating the impression that students will have beaten immigration to be in the US.
Students are advised to be extremely careful about such thinking and portrayal of life in the US. The visa you applied for to enter the US is a student Visa and holders of FI Visas (Students Visas) cannot take full time employment. Even if you have an on campus work, the money you earn is just below USD 3, 000 and that can only take care of your personal expenses and sometimes this same amount has been captured in the Financial Aid that the school offered you. Visit:http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html to review information on student visa application.It is important you consider the cost of attending a particular college/university in relation to your sources of funding. It is best to be honest about your financial ability and then seek help in making the right choices. Students who do not have the resources to finance their education are advised to rather choose schools with opportunity of financial aid, which can cover the differences in the cost of attending and their family contribution. The process is competitive but students may access thousands of financial aid with their academic work, talent and potentials by taking the required admission tests such as SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc and doing well in them and making a good application to the college/university. So there is a way and you should understand that you have to work your way out by doing the right things.
The sad ending of people who have assumed that just entering the United States is enough and can ignore immigration procedures tells why you should be careful about selfish people who are only interested in taking your money at the expense of your ambitions to travel. If you do not have aid covering your cost of attending, you will have to pay the College or University before you register for the academic year. If not, you have to return to Ghana and if you do not return, you live as an illegal immigrant. Your education ends and you will forever be running away from the US Officials. It is better to take the required test at an institution that has the experience and the knowledge to guide you to enroll successfully to pursue you education.
Organizations and Individuals advertising countries where economic conditions are harsh and where you have no access to financial aid
These days it is easy to come across people recommending so many countries as destinations of education for students. The argument being made is that it is cheaper but what you should ask is if you will have the peace of mind to complete your education. Some of the countries have rather harsh economic environment for students, so always talk to someone who have had the experience of schooling in a country before you leap into it or visit the embassy of the country in question for information. Those advertising these destinations in our dailies in some cases have not even visited any of those countries and in most cases the source of information for claiming that it is cheaper to attend university at those destinations is the information they found on some schools website which may not apply to international students.
Organization and Individual who tell the public that they have a working relationship with us and those claiming that they have work with us
Our attention have been drawn to people who have been sacked from our company for bad conduct who go round telling members of the public that they gained their experience from working with us and as such we have authorized them to render services. We were shocked when one such sacked worker wrote a four page CV to a company claiming he was a teacher and the one who run the program when he was an office assistance who was offered a job to help with the office and was sacked for taking unauthorized money from students and stealing of information. We advice the public to be careful about individuals and organizations who use our name without our written permission to contact us to verify our relationship with individuals who contact them making claims that they have a relationship with us.You may also read the History of Timeline which outlines how our company and services have evolved over the years.