Warning over 'Hi Mum' scams after woman loses £170

An example of a family or friend impersonation scam

An example of a family or friend impersonation scam - Credit: Suffolk Trading Standards

People in Suffolk are being warned over a convincing scam where fraudsters pose as family members or friends in need after a victim in Newmarket lost £170. 

The "Hi Mum or Hi Dad" scams involve victims being contacted, normally via messaging application WhatsApp, with claims that the person's phone has been lost or damaged and they are having to use a new number. 

Fraudsters are also able to fake genuine contact details to make the scam more convincing. 

The scammers then ask for money to be transferred urgently to pay a bill or get them out of difficulty and provide bank details to do this. 

Fraudsters sometimes come back with further demands if they are successful in exploiting the victim. 

According to Action Fraud, nearly £50,000 was lost to these types of scams nationally between August and October 2021, with some victims losing more than £3,000. 

Suffolk Trading Standards said the organisation received a report of this type of scam this week. 

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The victim, a woman from Newmarket, received a text informing her that her friend had changed her mobile phone number on November 23. 

She then received texts asking for help to pay a bill on December 1, and sent £170 in cash to the address she was provided in a padded envelope. 

She realised she had been scammed when she received a genuine message from her friend on her original number, and the pair then discussed the messages. 

Sasha Watson, from Suffolk Trading Standards, said: "This is an ongoing scam, targeting individuals across the country.

"The scam usually includes a message on WhatsApp, but sometimes a text or phone call, from a person claiming to be a friend or family member, and has the aim of encouraging the recipient to transfer money.

"If you receive a suspicious message - even if you think you know who it is from - calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are."

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