WhatsApp users lose over Rs 54 crore to a new scam

WhatsApp has become a popular method for scammers to trick people and steal their money. Fraudsters are impersonating as family members or close friends and asking people for money under the pretext that their device is lost.
Globally, there is an increase in online money fraud. We are seeing a lot of cases where scammers are deceiving people and draining their bank accounts. Whether its a Sim exchange, UPI, or ATM card scam. Another shocking example involving scammers acting as family members of victims and begging them to send money under the guise of losing their mobile phones has been reported from Australia.

In the recently revealed "Hi Mum" or "family impersonation" scam, scammers message their victims on WhatsApp. They approach the family members under the guise of close friends or relatives, pretending to be in need of assistance because they have misplaced or damaged their phone and are attempting to reach them at a different number. They ask their victims to send money once they've been tricked by the texts. Many Australians have fallen victim to this new fraud, losing over $7 million (around Rs 57.84 crore).

'Hi Mum' scam

According to reports, the scammer will contact victims on WhatsApp and will claim that they have lost or damaged their phone and are making contact with a new number. Upon developing trust with the victim, they ask for personal information such as photos for their social media profile or money to pay someone's bill or replace their phone.

They will further defend their need for money by claiming that they are unable to use their cards because internet banking is currently unavailable or displaying difficulties.
Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has detected a considerable increase in "Hi Mum" frauds, and more than 1,150 people have fallen for the hoax.

Over the past few months, people have lost around $2.6 million, around Rs 21 crore. A total of 11,100 people were scammed of $7.2m (Rs 57.84 crore) in 2022 alone. And most cases of scams are reported by women who are above the age of 55.
"We're urging Australians to be wary of phone messages from a family member or friend claiming they need help, following a significant rise in 'Hi Mum' scams. More than 1,150 people fell victim to the scam, with total reported losses of $2.6 million," ACCC tweeted.
The Australian authorities have urged citizens to verify the source of contact before transferring money via suspicious messages.
Although this case was recorded in Australia, Indians should also heed the call and warning. In the past few years, cyber fraud has also significantly increased in India, according to reports. A recent scam resulted in the theft of almost Rs 50 lakh from the accounts of a businessman from Delhi. There have been numerous instances of SIM switching, QR code fraud, and phishing URLs going viral. Therefore, taking care and being aware are the only ways to protect oneself from these online scams.


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