The ACCC’s Scamwatch has issued an official warning after there’s been a substantial rise in the amount of “Hi Mum” scam texts that appear to be from a family member.
According to the report over $2.6 million has been lost to the scam over the past seven months with 1,150 Australians falling victim.
Most of those victims have been women over the age of 55 and have accounted for $1.4 million of total loses.
The scams have been deemed as “family impersonation” scams and are often sent over WhatsApp. The sender acts as a son, daughter or friend saying that they’ve got a new phone because their old one is damaged.
From there they continue a casual conversation and then ask for money to help pay for the new phone or a bill because they can’t access their online bank.
The ACCC says that most of the messages start with “Hi Mum” and that some of the scammers already have personal information of the person they’re trying to impersonate in attempts to make it more realistic.
“Scammers will stop at nothing to get your personal details or money and this particular scam is designed to pull your heartstrings. It’s important to stop and think if you get a message, especially on WhatsApp, because chances are it’s not your family member or friend – it’s a scammer,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
It’s recommended that if anyone receives a message like this, to verify it with the person who is allegedly trying to contact you by calling the number already stored in your phone.
If this fails, the ACCC suggests that you call the ‘new number’, ask who is speaking and then ask a personal question that the scammer may not know about the person you know.
“Above all, never send money without being absolutely sure who you are sending it to,” Ms Rickard said.
People who believe they have been scammed are urged to immediately contact their bank and find where the money went, followed by blocking scam accounts.