With the significant rise in the use of digital systems over the years, scammers have been devising new ways to dupe gullible people. In one such case, Australians lost over $7 million (over Rs 57 crore) in 2022 to a text message scam dubbed as ‘Hi Mum’, according to an Independent report.
The number of victims of the scam increased tenfold in the past three months, according to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). In 2022 alone, the ACCC says $7.2m has been stolen from at least 11,100 victims, ABC News reported. Most of the victims were women over 55 years of age.
The modus operandi includes the fraudster posing as a family member claiming they need help, and convincing people to send them money. The scammer impersonates a child, sends the unsuspecting victim a message on WhatsApp which reads, ”Hi mum,” and informs them that they’ve lost their phone and are trying to contact them with a different number. According to the police, they continue with something along the lines of “I’ve changed provider/lost/broken my phone – I’m temporarily using this number for now.”
Once the scammer gets the attention of the parent, he or she continues the conversation and in response asks them to send money to help them out in an emergency situation. Victims usually then transfer funds to bank accounts provided by scammers, which are often set up fraudulently.
The ACCC asked people to be wary of suspicious texts like this and verify the contacts before sending money to someone. It also said that scammers may also ask for personal information, which may then be used to scam other family members.
We’re urging Australians to be wary of phone messages from a family member or friend claiming they need help, following a significant rise in ‘Hi Mum’ scams. More than 1,150 people fell victim to the scam, with total reported losses of $2.6 million. https://t.co/pIeJKLDTVApic.twitter.com/f7U0iTBK2s
— ACCC (@acccgovau) August 23, 2022
“We’re urging Australians to be wary of phone messages from a family member or friend claiming they need help, following a significant rise in ‘Hi Mum’ scams. More than 1,150 people fell victim to the scam, with total reported losses of $2.6m,” the ACCC said in August.
The Deputy Chair of ACCC, Delia Rickard, asked people to call the original numbers of their family members to cross-check if their mobile devices are really stolen.
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