Halifax urges Britons to delete worrying scam message from phone after mother lost £10,000

Rip Off Britain: Lois recalls losing £900 in WhatsApp scam

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Sharing a warning video to its Twitter account this morning, Halifax showed the typical text which is usually seen in the “hello mum” WhatsApp scam. The text in the video said: “Hello mum, I’m using a friend’s phone, can you help me pay a bill? Love you xxx” Halifax then asked the viewer what they would do.

The options were to “send the money, phone your daughter, or text back”. 

The video then highlighted the correct answer which was “phone your daughter” and with Halifax added: “Always use your saved number to check if it’s genuine”. 

The “hello mum” scam has been around for the last year and has continued to come in waves throughout 2022. 

The fraudsters used the scam to manipulate caring parents into emptying their bank accounts by pretending to be a child in need of financial help. 

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The warning comes as the cost of living crisis could make these situations look “more believable to parents”. 

The scam usually consists of a person receiving a message out of the blue that claims to be from a family member or a friend from a different number that someone will not recognise. 

In an attempt to make the message less suspicious, the fraudster says that they have lost their phone which is the reason behind the change of number.

In reality, the scammer will have usually sent out the message on mass to thousands of people in hope that they manage to target a parent. The strategy is called “coordinated spray and pray”. 

The fraudster will then try to worry the person who has received the message saying there’s some kind of problem which will need money to help the problem.

They will then ask the target to pay the money into a bank account in the hope that the person has believed their story.

This scam has already had thousands of victims and between February 3 and June 21, 2022, there were 1,235 reports made to Action Fraud linked to this scam.

In total, the losses were devastating, exceeding £1.5million.

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In July, Express.co.uk reported the story of one mother, Angela Briscoe, 66, lost a whopping £10,000 to the scam after she received a text from her son whilst he was travelling in Mexico. 

The scammer convinced her that her son had forgotten to pay loads of bills, thankfully she was able to receive some of her money back but not everyone is as lucky.

In its warning video, Halifax linked to the fraud page on its website which details how a person can spot fraud and protect themselves from falling victim.

Halifax said: “If you get a message like this, don’t reply. Just delete it. Call your family or friend to check if it’s real. Use a number you trust, like the one saved in your phone and never call the number from the message.”

Halifax also showed more examples of the messages scammers may send.

One said: “Hi mum it’s your beautiful daughter here, I have changed my phone number and I need your help. The bank has blocked my account and I need to pay this bill can you please help me?”

The bank reiterated to its customers that only scammers would rush a person into a payment.

Halifax shared its “top tips” to avoid scam messages on its website. 

These include: “Never move money, make a payment or give personal or banking details for a message that comes out of the blue.

“Only click on a link or download an attachment if you’re sure it’s genuine.

“Look at the spelling and layout,  it has mistakes or looks odd in any way, don’t reply, just delete it.

“Take your time – A scam may use warnings or threats to try to get you to act without thinking.

“Double-check before you pay – Confirm payment details before you pay an invoice or bill. Call the person or business on a number you trust, not one from an invoice or message.”

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