Beware the 'HI MUM' Whatsapp scam: Parents warned of hackers trying to impersonate their kids

Earlier, authorities warned that they had received 1,235 reports of criminals posing on WhatsApp as loved ones in need, which led to a loss of $17 M

Beware the 'HI MUM' Whatsapp scam: Parents warned of hackers trying to impersonate their kids
Parents are being warned about the 'Hi Mum' scam (representational photo - Alex Wong/Getty Images, Perenjori Police/Twitter)
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Warning: This content contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some; readers' discretion is advised.

LONDON, ENGLAND: In the latest update of the 'Hi mum' scam, authorities have warned the WhatsApp scam is now spreading to text messages. The scam continues to target parents by impersonating their grown-up children. Later, the scammer sends text messages claiming to have lost their phones.

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Earlier, Action Fraud warned that it had received 1,235 reports of criminals posing as loved ones in need on WhatsApp between February 3 and June 21 this year, amounting to a total financial loss of $17 million. 

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The consumer experts initially noticed the scam at the end of 2021 when a victim reported that a scammer impersonating his sister had a convincing conversation with her - which led to her transferring money for "car repairs". However, in the recent development, WhatsApp scammers have now moved to text messages. According to Which?, some of the text messages received from the internet scammers include, "Hello mum, My phone just broke. So you can delete that number and save this one”. Another read: “Hi mum I’m texting you off a friend's phone I’ve smashed mine and their phones are about to die, can you WhatsApp my new number 07432555086 please x”

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However, anyone receiving a suspicious text message should report it by forwarding it to 7726 before blocking the number. Those who believe they may have fallen victim to the scam should contact their bank straight away and report the scam to Action Fraud. People can also report scam messages on WhatsApp by opening up the chat with the unknown number and selecting Block and Report.

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Earlier, the Perenjori Police department of Australia also warned their citizens regarding the scam in a tweet, "The “Hi mum” scam is currently very active. If you get a text from an unknown number saying “Hi mum, this is my new number” or “ I broke my phone” DO NOT REPLY! Call the family member on a known number & talk to them. DO NOT send any money before talking direct. See SCAMWATCH," said the police.

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According to Which? the scammer will initially start texting you claiming that the sender has lost their phone, it's damaged or they can't access it. Slowly, they will go on requesting money creating an imaginary difficult financial situation. This will appeal emotionally to the receiver since they believe that it is their close relative or their children. Meanwhile, the bank details shared by the scammer will not be the same as of your dear one and will claim that it's because they can't access their bank account.

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If you receive a message like this don't hurry to transfer money immediately and get in trouble, enquire further by asking who specifically it is by name and by calling them or asking for a voice note. WhatsApp has already warned that its users should ensure that two-factor authentication is set up on their account and never share their six-digit pin code with others.

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