Friday, 21 January 2022

Growing numbers caught out by the "Dear Mum" scams... watch out for WhatsApp as well as email "phishing"

We all know that emails are not secure - and that "phishing" is one of the most common methods that scammers use.  

Watch out for WhatsApp - don't believe every message you receive

A timely warning was published in The Times yesterday about "Dear Mum" phishing messages that arrive via WhatsApp:

Growing numbers of people are losing thousands of pounds to scams asking them to send money to family and friends supposedly in need.

Victims of “Dear Mum” scams are usually contacted by fraudsters on WhatsApp. They pretend that they have lost or damaged their phone and are having to message from a new number. However, they can also fake contact details, making the fraud even more convincing.

The scammers prey on parents by asking them for money to buy a new phone or to pay an urgent bill because they are in financial difficulty, providing their bank details so that the cash can be transferred.

Banks said there was a rise in reports of the scam at the end of last year. The last three months of 2021 saw a fourfold rise in “friends and family” scams reported to Barclays compared with the previous three months. The average loss was £1,242, which could be from multiple payments. Action Fraud, a fraud reporting service, said some victims had lost more than £3,000.

Here at Alpha Legal, we have also heard of work-related WhatsApp scams where messages appear to come from managers or directors, asking staff to take urgent action to transfer money or buy Amazon vouchers as company gifts.  Take care - phishing can happen via almost every communication system.

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