Appearing on Channel 5’s Phone Scams: Don’t Get Caught Out, Mitch Ward revealed how a series of convincing text messages by fraudsters cost him a sizeable amount of money. The criminals pretended to be the retired policeman’s son, who in the pretence of the scam, claimed to be in need of medical bills being paid. Mr Ward explained; “I was at work and I got a text through. The text started off, ‘Hi Dad. This is my new number. Can you please delete the other number and use this one?’
“And I thought nothing off it. It looked like it was from my son. My son is mid-20. He lives on his own. He’s all independent himself, and everything like that.
“We do have regular contact – but again, in this modern world, we tend to do it over the phone, or even texts and WhatsApp.
“I knew that he told me that he had been to a doctors’ but he didn’t tell me what he went to a doctors’ for. “Half an hour later, there was another text that came through.”
This text read: “Dad, I’ve lost my card. Can you pay for some medical treatment that I’ve had? Try to ring me and I can talk to you about it.”
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Mitch ended up calling the number on WhatsApp, however he was met with some feedback which meant he could not hear anything.
After this, he received another text from the scammer which said: “I’m having difficulties with my phone. I can’t hear you. Can you hear me?”
Over text, Mitch agreed to send over payments to the scammer, who he believed was his son, which totalled £8,100.
These payments were sent over in six instalments, however he noticed something was wrong when one of the payments was returned from a different account.
Concerned about the situation, Mitch contacted his bank to see what was happening and whether they had any explanation.
The bank notified him that WhatsApp scams similar to this had been happening and explained that he had been tricked by a fraudster who was posing as his son.
Unfortunately for Mitch, the bank was only able to return half of the money he had sent to the scammers which affected his long-term plans.
Upon realising this, Mitch said: “I was gutted with myself because I’d been conned. But also, I really felt for my wife.
“To see her face was just really disappointing – because I’d done it. It was me who had done it. That was the problem and the last thing I’d ever want is to hurt her.
“That money was going towards our honeymoon. We haven’t been. I’m working even though I’ve retired there, and I’ve got to make that money back up.
“Instead of relaxing and taking it easy and being able to do what I’d like to do now, I’m going to work hard for it and I’ll get that money back.”
Recent analysis by Action Fraud found that WhatsApp scams are on the rise with Britons losing almost £50,000 to the fraud method between August and October 2021.
On this issue, Kathryn Harnett, a policy manager at WhatsApp, said: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption.
“But we want to remind people of the other ways they can keep their accounts safe and remain 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.”
Phone Scams: Don’t Get Caught Out! Is available to catch up on My5 now.