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Cyber Criminals Are Targeting Parents by Masquerading as Their Children on WhatsApp

A new cybercriminal trick has been reported, in which they send a simple message such as 'Hi Mum’ or ‘Hi Dad’ with a reason for using a different phone number. A common excuse appears to be that the phone is lost or damaged.


This is then followed by a string of messages explaining a supposedly difficult situation which requires financial assistance, for instance needing money urgently to pay for a bill.

The objective is to trick the victim into sending money to the criminal behind the attack.

Cybercriminals will then provide bank details for the payment to be made, with some coming back for further demands of the money.


Between 3rd February 2022 and 21st June 2022, there have been a total of 1235 reports made to Action Fraud linked to this scam, with total reported losses exceeding £1.5m.


What do you do in this situation?


  • STOP. THINK. CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person to confirm their identity.

  • You can report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

  • Never share your account’s activation code (that’s the 6-digit code you receive via SMS)

BBC sports commentator Jacqui Oatley’s mother was nearly a victim and Jacqui shared the experience on Twitter to raise awareness:




This type of scam reaffirms the need to verify who you’re communicating with, even if they're claiming to be a loved one. If something doesn’t feel right, authenticate who you’re talking with. This might be asking a question that only your loved one would know, or calling to confirm it's really them (a scammer may claim the phone speaker is broken to avoid a conversation).


Urgency is one of the warning signs and the NCSC has advice on how to spot a scam, including tell-tale signs and details of how to report them on our website.


If you recognise that this has happened to you and you need to report it, report it to www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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