Latest Text Scam – Beware

‘Tug at the heartstrings’: scammers target parents and grandparents by impersonating children who need help

Scammers have no boundaries regarding compensation as they continue to find creative ways of scamming people. Pretending to be children in need of financial help, authorities are warning parents and grandparents of this new messaging scam.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS? 

Originating in Europe and moving overseas, over 25 victims of the scam have already been detected in Victoria this year.

Most victims receive a WhatsApp or text message from an outside number impersonating their child or grandchild. These messages often include lines like “Hi Mum, I broke my phone – I’m using this number temporarily for now,” or “Hello Grandpa, I changed my provider, this is my new number.”

If typically given a response back, these scammers (mainly located overseas) will begin to request money from the victim by making up an urgent emergency where funds are needed hoping to “tug at the heartstrings” of the victim.

They’ll continue by asking: “Can you give me your credit card number? I’ll pay you back,” or “I can’t get to my internet banking. Could you pay these bills for me?”

A VICTIM’S STORY 

A victim that fell from the scammer’s impersonation was Sonya Feldhoff. Feldhoff, an Adelaide native, lost more than $5,000 to these scammers as they posed as her son. Since her experience, she has spoken out to stop others from falling prey to the same dishonest tactics.

“To find out the next day it wasn’t your son you were speaking to, it’s a real invasion,” Feldhof said, “It’s just a terrible feeling — you think ‘who was I conversing with this entire time?’”

Authorities have recorded over 1,150 reports of the scam worldwide, and about two-thirds of victims were women over 55.

ACCC SUGGESTS TIPS TO VERIFY ID

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is aware of losses of $2.6 million linked to the scam. To bring awareness so others may avoid falling victim, deputy chair Delia Rickard offers tips for parents and grandparents to verify the messenger’s ID.

“I would go and contact them on their regular number.” said Rickard, “If they don’t pick up, then I’d use an alternative form such as social media or an email.”

 

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