The Met police have warned against a recent rise in creepy texts from scammers impersonating people’s children.
The texts, known as the “mum and dad WhatsApp scam”, first started gaining traction late last year but have now started to pick up again.
The elaborate scam involves getting a request for money from an unknown number pretending to be a family member in need. Unfortunately, the scam has cost many parents hundreds of pounds.
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Met representatives took to social media to share the warning and warn parents about the scam saying: “There has been an increase in reports linked to the ‘Mum and Dad WhatsApp Scam’. Please SHARE and remind your friends and family to remain vigilant.”
Screenshots shared by those who have received texts from unknown numbers show scammers trying to impersonate their children in a variety of ways. One text reads: “Hi mum. My other phone crashed. But this is my temporary number. You can save this one. Message me if you’ve seen this.” Another says: “Hi dad, this is my new number. My phones doesn’t turn on anymore so now you can text and call me on this number.”
But what begins as a believable conversation quickly starts to become suspicious. Often, a scammer may say they are unable to access their bank accounts but state they are in urgent need of money. When asked to provide the name of the child they are impersonating, scammers will reply with ambiguous and non-specific replies such as simply stating they are “the oldest child.”
Parents who receive such text messages have been advised to contact the impersonated family member using their original contact details and not to send any money before verifying the legitimacy of the texts.
Whatsapp Policy Manager Kathryn Harnett told Which UK : ““WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security. And if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.”
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