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Aussie Parents Duped Out Of $2.6M In WhatsApp Scams

Over a thousand Australians have fallen victim this year to a new texting scam, with reported losses of $2.6 million over the last seven months.

The ‘Hi, Mum’ scam sees victims contacted via WhatsApp by a scammer posing as a family member or a friend, claiming they have lost or broken their phone and are messaging from a new number.

“Once they have developed a rapport with their target, the scammer will ask for personal information such as photos for their social media profile or money to help urgently pay a bill, contractor or replace the phone,” Scamwatch warns.

The sophistication of the scam varies: some messages simply say ‘it’s me’, while others appear to know contact information and the name of the person they are impersonating.

“We have seen an explosion in the number of ‘Hi Mum’ scams in the past couple of months, and so we are warning Australians to be very wary of messages from unknown numbers claiming to be from their children, parents, relatives or friends,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“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.”

Over two-thirds of family impersonation scams have been reported by women over 55 years of age, accounting for more than $1.4 million in losses.

“Unfortunately, these unscrupulous scammers are targeting women and older Australians, with 82 per cent of family impersonation scams reported by people over the age of 55, accounting for 95 per cent of all reported losses,” Rickard said.

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