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Scam Alert – The ‘Hi Mum’ WhatsApp Scam

2022-09-12T14:24:38+01:00

Last Updated on 12th September 2022

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We have recently become aware of an increase in a phishing scam, often known as ‘Hi Mum’. The scam involves the impersonation of friends or family members, and can be conducted through text message or an instant messaging service, such as WhatsApp.

Our Scam Alert will help you understand what the scam is, how to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims and what you can do if you’ve been scammed.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is the use of ‘real’ or authentic looking messages or emails pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to your personal information and/or account details.

illustration on a scammer taking account details from a phone

What Is The ‘Hi Mum’ Scam?

  • Potential victims are contacted by a scammer posing as a family member or a friend. This is usually done via a messaging service like WhatsApp.
  • The scammer will claim that they have lost or damaged their phone (this explains why they’re contacting from a different number).
  • After a few messages have been exchanged in order to build a rapport, the scammer will ask for personal information. This might be photographs (for their social media profile) or money to urgently help pay a bill, a contractor or to replace their phone.
  • These requests continue the ruse of a lost or broken phone, with the justification that the funds are needed because they can’t access their online banking temporarily.

The ‘end game’ for the scammers is to access your banking and/or private information, which they can then use for their own financial gain.

scam text message asking for mum to message their WhatsApp

What are Authorised Push Payment Scams?

An authorised push payment (APP) scam (also known as a bank transfer scam) occurs when you, knowingly or unwittingly, transfer money from your own bank account to one belonging to a scammer.

For example, a scammer pretends to be your child saying that they need money for a new phone, car repair or emergency bill.

If you’ve been tricked into transferring money to the account of someone you don’t know, you might have been the victim of APP fraud.

Three Top Signs to Spot the ‘Hi Mum’ Scam

1. Unknown number

Scam message highlighting an unknown number
Scam message highlighting an unknown number

2. Instead of using a name, writing: ‘It’s me’ or not stating who it is

Scam message highlighting that they never gave their name

3. Saying their phone is lost or broken

Scam message highlighting that they damaged their phone
Scam message highlighting that they damaged their phone

What To Do If You’ve Been Targeted

Firstly, directly contact the person they are claiming to be. Ask if they have messaged you from a different number. If they haven’t and you haven’t yet sent any personal or private information to the scammer, you should block and report the scammer.

Never directly respond to the scammer. They may sell your details to other scammers who will bombard you with spam messages or calls.

Note the number that the scammer is contacting you from and any other information, such as a profile photo. If you can, take a screenshot – this will be helpful information to include when reporting the scammer. You can report the phishing scam to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

If you have already given the scammer information, here’s the next steps you can take:

  • Phone the police. Contact the non-emergency number 101 and report the scam to the police.
  • Change your passwords. As soon as possible, change all passwords for accounts that have been compromised, as well as accounts that use similar account login details and passwords.
  • Cancel your card. Get in touch with your bank immediately and cancel your card. If you have internet banking set up, you may be able to do this online.
  • Go offline. Take your device offline so you won’t inadvertently send phishing links from your device to others. If you suspect you’re a victim of a ransomware attack, take your device offline and save as much as you can to a USB stick.
  • Report the phishing scam to NCSC.

Further Advice and Guidance

Resources

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