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Warning over 'Hi Mum' scam targeting Aussie parents

·News Reporter
·2-min read
A screenshot of the 'hi mum' scam text.
Parents are being warned about a new scam that impersonates their children. (Source: NSW Police/Facebook)

Police have issued a warning over a new phone scam that preys on parents after at least 25 victims have been identified to have fallen for the hoax.

The scam, which pulls on the heartstrings of parents who would react without giving a second thought if their child needs financial support, has so far cost Australia $2 million, police said.

The scam is believed to have originated in Europe in January and begins with a simple Whatsapp or text message from someone impersonating the victim’s child, with a message along the lines of: “Hi mum, I’ve changed provider/lost/broken my phone – I’m temporarily using this number for now.”

As the conversation develops, the scammers eventually request money from the victim, using some kind of emergency to justify their need for the funds. Once the initial transfer is made, the offender would usually request for another sum of money.

The ‘Hi mum’ scam is believed to date back to October last year overseas, but has seen a significant increase across Australia since May this year. Police believe the actual number of cases are under-reported.

A scam targeting parents has been spreading across Australia via Whatsapp or text messages. Credit: NSW Police Force/ Facebook
A scam targeting parents has been spreading across Australia via Whatsapp or text messages. Credit: NSW Police Force/ Facebook

Warnings on social

Warnings of the scam has also appeared on Facebook, with a member of the group Bali Bogans telling fellow members of the group to watch out for text message scams after her mother received a similar message on her phone.

The author of the post explained that she had been in Bali for a week when her mother received the message, and after brief exchange, the impersonator asked her “to pay some invoices” for her.

The post generated a number of replies from other members who had a similar experience.

Over $2B in losses

Scams have robbed Australians of more than $2 billion last year, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported last month.

The ACCC revealed investment scams were the highest loss category, at $701 million, followed by payment redirection scams at $227 million, and romance scams at $142 million.

“Scam activity continues to increase, and last year a record number of Australians lost a record amount of money,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “Scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals: they pose as charities after a natural disaster, health departments during a pandemic, and love interests every day.”

“The true cost of scams is more than a dollar figure as they also cause serious emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses.”

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