Police issue stern warning to Australians after more than $2 million stolen from victims in ‘Hi Mum’ text scam

Written by Javed Iqbal

Police are warning Australians to be vigilant after more than $2 million was stolen from victims in a “Hi Mum” texting scam.

The scam involves the perpetrator sending a text message from an unknown mobile number claiming to be their son or daughter.

The message will say they have lost their phone and ask the victim to delete their old number.

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When the victim engages in conversation, the perpetrator will make an excuse about how they are unable to make a payment before asking to borrow money or make a payment on their behalf.

The criminal will usually state that it is an emergency matter before providing information about the payment.

NSW Police have provided an example of the messages and are warning Australian parents to “watch out for this scam!!!!”.

“Hey mom it’s me. I got a new number, you can delete the old one,” writes the perpetrator along with a thumbs up and heart emoji.

“Which me is that??” replies the victim.

“Your oldest and cutest child xx,” writes the perpetrator before continuing the conversation.

“I got a new phone. I’m still transferring everything. I have a little problem that I can’t solve… Can you help me with it?

“Well because of the new device I have to transfer all the apps but the banking app has put a 48 hour security on the app due to fraud. All nice but I have to make 2 payments. Very annoying because I don’t can do it. something about it. can you pay for me and i will return it asap???”

Social media users were quick to react to the warning, admitting that they too could fall for the scam.

“I would fall for it… Not even going to lie,” one person wrote.

“I wanted to know it wasn’t my child as written but I can see how people can fall into this trap,” wrote another.

A third said they received a similar message but challenged the sender.

“I received this. I replied back with ‘what’s your middle name if this is really my child?’ They never responded. Number blocked and reported,” they wrote.

Cyber ​​Crime Squad Commander Detective Inspector Matthew Craft said victims of “Hello Mum” scams date back to October last year, but they have seen a “significant increase in reports” since May.

Victims in NSW and Victoria account for just over half of all “Hello Mum” scam reports to Australian law enforcement agencies, followed by Western Australia and Queensland.

“We urge people to look out for suspicious behavior demonstrated by these scammers, including their failure to personalize any communication and excuses as to why they cannot speak on the phone,” Det Supt Craft said.

“If you receive a suspicious message on your mobile, especially through social media or encrypted message, contact your next of kin using an alternative communication method or call to confirm it is indeed them.

“In just a few months, the losses accumulated by Australian victims of this scam easily exceed $2 million when you consider the significant under-reporting of victims of cybercrime in general.”

Det Supt Craft said the victim demographic is predominantly over 55s.

“Unfortunately, many parents fall victim because they are simply nice people who are concerned about their child’s welfare,” he said.

He said people who have lost money to a scam should contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible and report the matter to the police.

Visit Scamwatch website.

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Javed Iqbal

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