Scammers are utilising a “nasty” tactic as part of the “Hi Mum” scam, that began circulating earlier this year, in order to dupe their potential victims.
The “Hi Mum” scam has been doing the rounds for quite some time with authorities claiming “the losses accumulated by Australian victims of this scam easily surpasses $2 million”.
The scam involves the offender sending a text message from an unknown mobile phone number to the potential victim while falsely claiming to be their son or daughter.
The message states they’ve lost their phone, explaining to the victim that they’re communicating from their new number before prompting them to delete the old number.
Once the victim is drawn into conversation, the scammer will ask to borrow money or have a payment made on their behalf alongside the excuse that they need it due to the unavailability of online banking on the new device.
The offender will usually state it’s a matter of urgency before providing details for the payment and a promise to pay the money back
Once the funds are fraudulently obtained the scammers will often move the money from bank accounts into cryptocurrency, meaning victims are unlikely to get their money back.
However, it has been revealed that scammers have now evolved their scam to make recipients believe their loved ones have been kidnapped or owe a drug debt in order to elicit funds.
The new version of the message now includes such lines as “It was drug debt, I’m with them now, they’re going to stab me if I don’t pay it all back to them” before the scammer tells the recipient “I am so scared, I don’t know what to do, I have no idea where I am, they have me in the back of a car”.
“The latest ‘Hi Mum’ scams have added a nasty twist to steal your money,” New South Wales police warned.
“If you receive this scam, call your loved one on a known number NOT the one in the text to verify their safety.”
While alerting the public to the scam earlier this year, Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft said “the demographic of victims is predominately aged over 55, and sadly, many parents are falling victim because they’re simply nice people who are concerned for their child’s welfare.”
“Victims of the ‘Hi Mum’ scam date back to at least October last year overseas, but since May, we’ve seen a significant increase in reports not just here in NSW, but jurisdictions across Australia,” Craft said.
“We encourage people to look out for suspicious behaviours demonstrated by these scammers; including their failure to personalise any communication and excuses as to why they can’t speak on the phone.
“If you receive a suspicious message on your mobile, particularly through social media or encrypted messaging, reach out to your relative by an alternative method of communication or call to confirm it is in fact them.
“In just a matter of months, the losses accumulated by Australian victims of this scam easily surpasses $2 million when you consider the significant underreporting by victims of cybercrime generally.”
The Australian Cyber Security Centre has recorded a significant increase in the amount of cash and personal identity documents fraudulently obtained by the ‘Hi Mum’ scam since May, with the majority of victims aged 65 and over.