Community / Fraud warning after WhatsApp scammer comes close to conning mum out of £3.5k

A WOMAN from Shetland says she was left “sick to her stomach” after a scammer impersonated her on messaging platform WhatsApp and tried to defraud her mum out of more than £3,500.

It was at the end of October that the scammer speculatively messaged Faye Hackers’ mum out of the blue, and tried to pretend it was her daughter she was speaking to.

The scammer said she needed money transferred to someone’s account on her behalf because their device had broken.

It got to the stage where Faye’s mum, who is in her 60s, was contemplating the request – before the penny dropped, the alarm was raised and the police informed.

And by coincidence Faye, 35, received a similar scam message herself this week too.

The attempted scam began with Faye’s mother receiving a message on WhatsApp saying: “Hi mum. This is my new number. The other phone is defect xx.”


The scammer then asked: “Do you have pictures of me on your phone that I can use on my profile. I lost my files.”

How the attempted scam began. Faye’s face is the image of the scammer as they saved a photo of her sent soon after as their profile picture.

The mum sent a couple of photos of Faye, who was pictured with her own children – something of great regret.

The police said, however, that people can request from WhatsApp that any messages sent between numbers involved in impersonation be deleted – with Faye hoping that this could protect the identify of herself and her family.

However, she has not yet heard back from WhatsApp.

The scammer then asked the mum to transfer “two payments for today, but because my device is broken I can’t acces my files [sic]”.

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“I hope it’s not too much to ask. Could you make this transfer for me? You’ll have it back tomorrow.”

A conversation then took place about potentially transferring the money, with details given of a bank account to put the cash in.

“Thankfully no money was transferred as they [her parents] called the house before anything happened,” Faye said.

She is keen to raise awareness of the scam to prevent other people from falling foul.

It is colloquially known as the ‘Hi mum’ scam, where someone messages from an unfamiliar number posing as a family member.

Action Fraud said that between February and June this year it had received 1,235 reports of criminals posing on WhatsApp as loved ones in need.

This resulted in a total financial loss of £1.5 million.


People can also block and report messages on WhatsApp if they think something is not right.

Locally reports of online fraud are becoming more common for police officers in Shetland.

Between April and September this year there were 17 offences recorded in relating to fraud in Shetland, which is far higher than average.

Local area commander Stuart Clemenson said the advice was to stop and think before responding to any unexpected message.

If in doubt, call the friend or family member directly to verify it is them, or if that is not possible ask them to share a voice note.

More generally, the chief inspector warned people not to give away too many personal details on blogs and social networking sites.

More information and help can also be found on this trading standards website.

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