Victorian Police say they’ve identified “at least” 25 victims of the “Hi Mum” mobile phone scam, issuing a warning about the hoax that’s designed to “pull on the heartstrings”.
It involves a scammer sending a text message from an unknown mobile phone number to a victim, claiming to be their son or daughter.
Cruel ‘Hi Mum’ Scam
Hi Mum scammer will claim they lost or damaged their phone and are making contact with their mother from a new number.
Then, once they have developed a relationship with their target, the scammer will ask for personal information like photos for profile picture, and money to help urgently pay a bill, contractor or replace the phone.
These requests continue the tactic of a lost or broken phone with the justification that the funds are needed because they can’t access their online banking temporarily.
Some messages will just say “it’s me,” while in some other cases the scammers will appear to have contact information and use the name of the person they are impersonating instead of just saying ‘Hi Mum’.
“We have seen an explosion in the number of ‘Hi Mum’ scams in the past couple of months, and so we are warning Australians to be very wary of messages from unknown numbers claiming to be from their children, parents, relatives or friends,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
The ACCC is encouraging people who receive ever receive a suspicious messages like in the Hi Mum scam from a number they don’t recognize, to independently verify the contact.
Rickard said “If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative or friend, start by calling them on the number already stored in your phone to confirm if it’s no longer in use. If they pick up – you know it’s a scam,”.
Over two-thirds of family impersonation scams have been reported by women over 55 years of age, accounting for more than $1.4 million in total losses.
“If you have reason to believe you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible as they may be able to find where the money went, block scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers.”