We know that scams are prevalent and increasingly frequent throughout the pandemic.
Keeping our personal and financial information secure, and out of the hands of fraudsters, is essential.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is warning about a fresh scam taking place on messaging service WhatsApp.
According to the CTSI, the scam involves the impersonation of family members in an attempt to steal money.
In one example, Alison received a WhatsApp message that appeared to come from her son, Will. She replied to check it was from Will, and the scammer convinced her it was.
The next day, ‘Will’ messaged again and asked his mum for £2,600, saying he had gotten involved with loan sharks and needed to repay his debts urgently.
Alison believed the message was genuine and tried to call her son back, but the person on the other end of the call said they couldn’t take the call and put pressure on her to make the payment quickly.
The scammer gave a now extremely worried Alison the bank details of the alleged loan shark.
Luckily for Alison, she forgot to click the final payment confirmation button, and the scammer chased her for confirmation Alison had made the payment. The chasing raised some doubts in Alison’s mind, and she then confirmed the message was a scam. Read have you ever been contacted by a scammer
CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, who spoke on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme to discuss this incident, said:
“This is not the first time I have seen this type of message, which is highly deceptive. Scammers are experts at exploiting the emotional vulnerability of the public, and this is a particularly insidious example of it.
“When receiving a message out of the blue like this, always be suspicious and doubly so when money is involved. Alison did the right thing by trying to call the number to verify, but as we see, fraudsters are skilled at influencing quick action, and she almost lost money to it.
“Please always report suspicious texts by forwarding them to 7726 – a free service by Ofcom which enables authorities to analyse messages and build a full picture of this enormous problem.”
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said:
“This WhatsApp scam demonstrates that consumers have never been so instantly vulnerable. The Government and regulators must be prepared for the rapidly evolving threats presented by advancing communications technologies and techniques, and the trading standards profession plays a key role in developing that consumer protection framework.” Read about other scams CTSI exposed