Suffolk

Fake university website for College of Suffolk shut down

A screen shot of the fake university website Image copyright Suffolk Trading Standards
Image caption The fake College of Suffolk said it was "shaping an amazing future for our students"

A website promoting a fake university that highlighted a county's links to Ed Sheeran and Harry Potter to try to dupe potential students has been shut down.

Suffolk Trading Standards said the made-up College of Suffolk in Ipswich offered degree courses in acting, musical theatre, dance and performance.

It advertised fees ranging from £3,500 to £8,900 and claimed it had been founded in the 1990s.

Trading Standards said it was probably aimed at international students.

The website, which had been online since April, told viewers "from Ed Sheeran to Harry Potter, Suffolk has a connection to loads of world famous people".

It also used a photo of the real University of Suffolk and claimed it was "shaping an amazing future for our students".

Sasha Watson, Suffolk Trading Standards community engagement officer, said the Department for Education alerted Suffolk County County to the website.

The site for the "very obvious" fake college was taken down "within days" once it was spotted, she said.

"All the courses were very much like arts and dramatics, TV and film, I think it was a real draw to someone who wanted to get into the famous industries," she said.

Ms Watson said it was not known if anyone was duped by the website, but no-one in the UK has contacted a law enforcement agency and none abroad had been in contact.

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Image copyright Trading Standards
Image caption The website highlighted Suffolk's links to Ed Sheeran and Harry Potter

Ms Watson also urged people to be vigilant when looking at college and university websites.

Suffolk Trading Standards said it closed down the website with the assistance of the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, based in North Yorkshire.

Ms Watson said they were not able to trace the people behind the website, but suspected they were abroad and "hiding behind various website registration companies".

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