"Hi Dad, it’s me. I’ve broken my phone and have got a new number. I desperately need to pay my rent, can you help me out?". If you receive a message like this, chances are you’d rush to help your family member, right? But this is what the scammers rely on…
The latest video in Derbyshire Constabulary’s ‘Sock it to the Scammers’ series focusses on the ‘mum and dad’ type of messaging scam, which is often seen on WhatsApp, and has cost some Derbyshire victims hundreds of pounds.
The constabulary’s Fraud Protect Officer Tammy Barnes said:
“Thousands of these messages are sent out by scammers in the hope that one person believes it truly is their son or daughter needing help.
“The scammers will make the money issue seem urgent and pressure the victim into sending cash immediately. This is to make sure there isn’t time to verify who they claim to be.
“You can stop this scam in its tracks by remembering Claude the sock puppet and his message of Stop. Think. Tell. Please share this message with your friends and family to protect them against these scams too.”
Watch the latest video featuring Claude below...
Case study: Angela's story
As part of their series, the constabulary spoke to Angela, who received a series of messages from a scammer pretending to be her daughter.
Angela has shared her story on their YouTube channel (see below) to help raise awareness of these scams, and to make sure more people know what to do if they receive a similar message.
She remembers how the scammer made her feel stupid for questioning the messages:
“I actually said, ‘Is this a scam?’ and the message came back ‘Gosh you are suspicious, just calm down.’”
The messages then asked Angela for a favour: paying a £650 bill that needing paying that day.
When Angela replied she wouldn’t do this, the messages stopped and a later phone conversation with her daughter revealed that Angela hadn’t been speaking to her at all.
“It was emotional blackmail because I was thinking I should be able to help my daughter. It did affect me for quite some time.”
Tammy Barnes said:
“These scams are really tough on those targeted by the criminals, as they take advantage of our instinct to help a loved one.
“Angela reached out to us after realising the messages were fake, and thankfully she hadn’t shared money or details, so we’ve been able to support her with advice for avoiding future scams.
“If you receive a message like this, remember to Stop. Think. Tell. Don’t do anything in a hurry, verify the claims that the messages are making, and report it.”
Watch Angela tell her story below. We first blogged about this scam back in 2022, when BBC presenter and pundit Jacqui Oatley spoke to Jeremy Vine on his Radio 2 show about how her mother had so very nearly fallen for the scam.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).