WhatsApp is the world’s most popular instant messaging app, and unfortunately, parents are now being warned of a new scam on the platform.
It takes the form of messages that appear to be from their children asking for cash, when, in reality, it’s fraudsters behind the messages.
In some instances, the scammers have claimed that the child has broken their phone and urgently needs financial help.
Hertfordshire parents alone have filed 14 reports detailing losses amounting to more than £13,000.
Detective Sergeant Mark Fava, of Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “Remember that on Whatsapp (like emails and phone calls) people are not always who they claim to be.
“If you get a message from a number you do not recognise, claiming to be someone you know and asking for money or personal information, it is best to pause and check that they are who they claim to be. We advise asking them to call you or meet you in person before acting on their request.”
However, it’s not just UK parents who are falling victim to this scam – Australian immunologist Alan Baxter took to Twitter to share his experience of the scam.
“Hi dad this is my temp number I’m using an old device until my phone is repaired,” read a message from the scammers.
However, it didn’t take long for the dad to realise that the message wasn’t from his son because of the quality of English used.
Otherwise, he may well have become the latest victim of what’s been dubbed the ‘mum and dad’ scam.
The immunologist told the Daily Mail Australia: “My son is an English teacher so the lack of grammar and full-stops alerted me.
“I first contacted ANZ’s customer helpline but I was told [the scam] wasn’t related to the bank’s activities and there was nothing that they can do.
“I thought it was an opportunity for the bank to close or freeze the account and even investigate the funds it has received.”
The father explained that he was frustrated that the bank refused to investigate the activity of the scammer’s account.
He wrote on Twitter: “So a general warning: If anyone is trying to get you to send money to the following ANZ account, it is probably fraud: Name: George M M BSB: 016 080 Account number: 316157952.
“It all raises the issue of what responsibility a bank facilitating fraud has in a situation like this.
“They clearly profit from the fraud, provide the resources to enable it, and refuse to act even when offered evidence.”
Tyla has reached out to ANZ for comment.
If you are based in the UK and think that you have been defrauded, you can seek help from Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.