Parents have been put on alert after scammers swindled more than $2million from families mainly across four states using a devious text message.
The highly effective ‘hi mum’ mobile phone scam plays on the fears of parents when scammers send a text message from a different number pretending to be one of their children.
The messages claim the son or daughter has a new phone and tells the parents to delete their other number.
Con artists have used WhatsApp (pictured) where they play the part of the son or daughter, telling them they have a new phone number and to delete their old one
The criminals spin a story pretending to be a parent’s child about needing money to be transferred or to pay for something, which they can’t do themselves due to a banking issue (pictured, one of the texts)
Most of the victims are aged over 55 using apps like WhatsApp – ‘Sadly, many parents are falling victim because they’re simply nice people who are concerned for their child’s welfare,’ police said
Parents have been duped into transferring more than $2million to the scammers across the country (pictured, one of the texts )
The scam messages spin a story about needing money to be transferred or to pay for something, which they can’t do themselves due to a banking issue.
The texts stress the issue is urgent before providing payment details, offering to reimburse their ‘parents’ later.
Victims across NSW and Victoria account for more than half of the money lost in the scams, with Western Australia and Queensland close behind.
It comes as fraudsters are now using other avenues such as ‘traditional’ SMS and text messages in order to approach their victims.
Such scams have appeared on UK WhatsApp accounts in recent months, tricking British parents into handing over £1.5million in just six months.
‘Victims of the ‘Hi Mum’ scam date back to at least October last year overseas, but since May, we’ve seen a significant increase in reports not just here in NSW, but jurisdictions across Australia,’ NSW Police cybercrime squad commander Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft said.
‘We encourage people to look out for suspicious behaviours demonstrated by these scammers; including their failure to personalise any communication and excuses as to why they can’t speak on the phone.
‘The demographic of victims is predominantly aged over 55, and sadly, many parents are falling victim because they’re simply nice people who are concerned for their child’s welfare,’ Det Supt Craft said.
The funds given over are usually quickly moved from bank accounts into cryptocurrency, with victims unlikely to get their money back.
People who have lost money to a scam should contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible and report the matter to police.
Such scams have appeared on UK WhatsApp accounts in recent months, tricking British parents into handing over £1.5million in just six months (pictured, a text one Aussie received)
Most victims were from Victoria and NSW, but Queenslanders and West Australians have also been duped