Britons urged to watch out for advanced fraudster tactic on WhatsApp

A money expert has warned Britons about a new version of the ‘Hi Mum’ scam, where a scammer will contact someone via text or WhatsApp pretending to be their son or daughter, who has purportedly lost or broken their phone.

They will then tell them they are in desperate need of help and often ask them to send over money.

Unfortunately, criminals have become more sophisticated in how they carry out this scam and in their efforts to be convincing.

John Stirzaker, consumer expert at explained: “Now this text isn’t just a straight-forward, ‘Hand me the money my phone is broken’, it’s now developed where they’ll message for days, putting kisses in messages and using social media to use personal information in conversations.

“We urge everyone who has been approached by a scammer to report the incident to Action Fraud and to ring up the bank straight away if any financial transactions were involved, so they’re aware of the situation.”

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Mr Stirzaker spoke about what people can do to avoid being taken in by scammers. He warned: “Scammers generally target people from all ages and backgrounds.

“Unfortunately a lot of scammers do target older people who are more likely to be less tech savvy, more trusting, and easily persuaded.”

He spoke about some of the warning signs a message may be fake, pointing out a real company would never request personal details over email or by another message.

The expert explained: “If you receive a message asking you to hand over your bank details or address then it’s likely it’s not genuine.

“It’s important to try and recognise what a legitimate message from your bank or energy provider looks like.

“If you receive anything that looks even a little suspicious or too good to be true, hop on the phone and check with the company.

“They’ll be able to put your mind at ease and if the message you received is a scam then be sure to report it.”

Friends or relatives of someone who is older or more vulnerable to scams may want to know what they can do to help protect their loved ones.

Mr Stirzaker said: “If you have vulnerable family or friends make sure you’re looking out for them and advise them to never hand over personal details over a text message, on email or via random phone calls.

“This includes names, addresses, bank details and passwords. If they have been contacted by scammers it’s worth blocking these numbers from their phone to prevent them from being contacted again.

‌“You can also reassure your loved ones by telling them that you’ll happily look over any emails or messages that may not seem genuine.”

He said people who have been a victim of a scam may feel embarrassed to have been taken in by the fraudsters and so may not want to report the incident, but their friends or relatives can help with this.

He said: “If an elderly person in your life has been scammed make sure you report this on their behalf to help stop scammers.”

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