The “Mum and Dad” Scam: $2.3 Million Lost in 2022 so far

Just when you thought the scamming tactics used today couldn’t get any worse, scammers are now assuming the identity of the children of Aussies and using it against them. Of course, this assumed identity is only on-screen but it’s the level of theatrics involved that’s causing Australians to become victims of the scam. This year alone…$2.3 million has been lost across the country.

Heard of the “Mum and Dad” Scam Before?

The mum and dad scam is just as it sounds, a scam that targets parents by having scammers pretend to be their children in need of money. There have been at least 625 reports of this seemingly well-thought-out scam since January 1, 2022. There is a very particular hook that these fraudsters use and it’s not just pretending to be someone’s child. 

It’s assuming their identity through the screen and immediately following up with why they are contacting their parents through the app, mentioning a financial issue they have, and then attaching a sense of urgency to it to limit the chance the potential victim will ignore it. Simply putting it, it seems as though this scam has a certain formula for its success, and unfortunately, it works. 

Here’s how these professional scammers are getting $4,095 if not more per victim:

  • Immediately addresses the potential victim as their parent
  • Vaguely adjusting their identities to come off as a child and immediately stating a lost, broken, or damaged phone
  • Mentioning that they have solved the issue by getting a new phone/number
  • Providing reassurance by inviting the parent to save the new number
  • Relaying brief information about an urgent financial matter
  • Providing a sense of urgency with a small window of response time
  • Never gives too much information that could potentially expose them

By establishing a brief rapport through the relationship of parent and child and then by providing reassurance after stating a financial issue, these are ways that scammers are succeeding and it works because if the story is believable enough, a parent isn’t likely to dismiss an emergency associate with their child. While this is true, there are ways to recognise a trap, even if you’ve already started to fall for it.

Recognising a Fraudulent Situation to Avoid It

Unfortunately, these incidents are more widespread than you would think and they aren’t just affecting Aussies. The now very popularly received “hi mum” or “hi dad” text has even cost Brits at least $1.5 million in the past six months. The thing is, these scams can take multiple forms and are distributed across various countries preying on the vulnerabilities of people just wanting to keep their finances safe.

To avoid falling victim to these scams;

  • Never give out any security codes that WhatsApp provides you with, not even to family or friends
  • Ask the suspected scammer a verifying question or ask them to send a voice note
  • Call the child they claim to be at the direct number you have saved for them
  • Look for very obvious indicators such as vague verbiage
  • Never send any money to anyone online, especially not when the money transfer isn’t secure
  • Install 2-step verification

There was at least $2 billion worth of scams that affected Australians in just 2021. Now, another scam, the mum and dad debacle has become a fraud-based trend that negatively impacts Australians and has already resulted in millions lost. If you remain observant and handle your money safely, you can avoid being the next victim.

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