Parents across the UK have been warned by police about a WhatsAppscam that has seen almost £50,000 stolen by cyber criminals pretending to be victims’ children.
“Hello mum” and “hello dad” WhatsApp scams have cost people tens of thousands as scammers contact them out of the blue impersonating their kids.
The Mirror reports that a reader Gerry fell victim to the scam, handing over cash to criminals who messaged him out of the blue.
“I have just been caught and lost nearly £7000. It’s a very clever scam,” he said.
These scams often begin with a text or a phone call from someone’s ‘child’ saying they have just got a new number and lost their old phone.
Scammers often ask for money to pay an urgent bill or replace a device while pretending to be someone’s son or daughter.
The organisation Action Fraud suggests that 25 people were hit by the scam between August and October, with losses totalling £48,356.
One person told the Mirror: “I was contacted yesterday by ‘my son’ from a temporary number because his phone had ‘broken’. I was messaging this scammer thinking it was my son until he asked for help with a payment and alarm bells rang.”
“This person is still using WhatsApp but stopped messaging me because he / she realised I was not going to send any money.”
One dad ‘almost’ fell for the scam, which would have seen him send £800 to their fake offspring claiming their partner’s card had broken.
“Luckily he didn’t have good internet that day at work so said he needed to wait until he was home to send her the money. During his commute home, my partner rang him for a catch up and it was then that he realised he had almost been scammed for £800,” the father’s real kid said.
WhatsApp has launched a campaign in the UK with the National Trading Standards scam s team. It’s called ‘stop, think, call’ to educate people on how to protect themselves from WhatsApp scams.
“[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,” said Kathryn Harnett, policy manager at WhatsApp.
Phone and Internet scams have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, with Ofcom reporting that an estimated 82 percent of adults received suspicious messages during summer.