The ‘Hi Mum’ scam cost Australians millions. Now, it’s had an upgrade | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

Key Points
  • NAB has warned customers of new scams emerging in 2024, with voice impersonation phone calls top of the list.
  • The calls are a new version of the ‘Hi Mum’ text message scam, which impacted thousands of people in 2022.
  • The scam involves criminals contacting victims, posing as family or friends, and asking for money.
In 2022, the became one of the most common scams in Australia, with victims losing millions to perpetrators pretending to be their children in need of help.
The scam was simple but effective, with over 11,000 incidents reported in Australia that year.
Now, Australians are being warned the scheme has become more sophisticated, and now features AI voice impersonation.

NAB chief digital officer Suj Rana said opportunistic criminals are using the latest technology to take advantage of unsuspecting parents.

“What’s changed is the ‘Hi Mum’ was a text message, and this has now evolved to become a phone call that a person will receive pretending to be from a family member that is in distress,” he told Channel Nine’s Today Show.
“They can make these phone calls from as little as three seconds of video that is often obtained from your social media profile or from a voicemail.”
Rana said while NAB has not yet had any reports of customers falling victim to the updated scam, it’s only a matter of time.

“We are seeing these scams already occurring in the US and UK … but we are expecting over the next few months for this type of scam to head down under.”

How do you spot a scam phone call?

While the voice impersonation technology can be convincing, there are some signs that you could be receiving a fraudulent call.

If a phone call from a “loved one” is unexpected, or comes from a strange number, this could be a red flag.

If the caller urgently asks you to make a payment and not to tell anybody, this could also be a sign that the call is not genuine.
According to the – Scamwatch – other warning signs can include a caller asking for security information, bank account or card details, or suggesting your accounts have been hacked.

If a caller asks you to install software or access a secure account on your phone or computer, it could also be a scam.

How can you protect yourself from a phone scam?

If you receive a call from a “loved one” asking for money, and you aren’t sure it’s legitimate, Rana said it’s important to confirm the caller’s identity before sending any money.
“Hang up and try and contact them back through a method that you already trust before you transfer any money,” he said.
“A lot of these scams start with your social media, because that is where they get the audio content from, so it is important you review your profiles and wherever possible, set them to private or set them to locked.”
Rana also suggested on social media accounts to improve security.
Scamwatch advises letting calls from unknown phone numbers go to voicemail, and hanging up if you are not sure a caller is who they say they are.
Scamwatch also advises hanging up on anybody who threatens you, never giving remote access to your computer, and never clicking on links in texts or emails.
If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank to report the scam and ask them to cancel any transactions.

Change your passwords on all online accounts and devices and contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160 if you need further support.

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