South Yorkshire Police issue warning about latest scam as WhatsApp messages are sent to parents
South Yorkshire Police has issued a warning about the latest scam, with conmen now targeting parents with WhatsApp messages from their ‘children’.
A number of reports have been received by South Yorkshire Police's fraud coordination team over recent weeks where parents have received a WhatsApp, text or voice message from someone purporting to be their son or daughter.
The scammers, posing as the victim's child, claimed they were in trouble and needed help to pay a bill.
Parents who fell for the con sent money to the fraudsters’ bank accounts. The victims have each lost amounts of up to £4,600.
Angela Senior, from the fraud coordination team, said: “Scams where a concerned parent is tricked into thinking their child is in financial trouble and needs help were first seen in the summer, and unfortunately, we have received a number of further reports of this scam in recent weeks.
“In the scam, the victim receives a message from the fraudster, who pretends to be their son or daughter. They claim they have changed their mobile number or lost their phone to explain why they are contacting them on a different number to usual.
“They promise they will return the money the following day when they're able to go to the bank and get the cash - but of course it's all lies and the money has actually been sent to a criminal's bank account.
“We are encouraging you to be conscious of this scam once again, and to think carefully before you transfer money, even if you think you know who you are sending it to. Please make sure you share details of this scam with your families to prevent you becoming victims in the first place.”
South Yorkshire Police is urging anyone who receives such a message to try to contact their loved one through a trusted method - such as their usual phone number - to confirm whether the request is genuine.
They should speak to them over the phone rather than trusting that the person at the end of the text message is who they say they are.
Victims should report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk.