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Australians have lost at least $7.2 million to the ‘Hi Mum’ scam. How does it work and why is it so lucrative for cybercriminals? | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | | #dating

It’s the scam that preys on our emotions and has seen criminals steal at least $7.2 million from 11,100 Australians so far this year – and that’s just what’s been reported to the consumer watch dog.

Cases of the “Hi Mum” scam date back to January and have been widely reported.

But the number of victims has increased tenfold in the past three months, according to the latest figures from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC).

And Australians continue to lose thousands of dollars to the fraud. 

That’s because the scam is as simple as it is effective.

We spoke to an expert who revealed some of the tactics the scammers are using and ways to help you avoid becoming a victim.

What is the ‘Hi Mum’ scam?

In case you’ve been lucky enough not to have received one of these “Hi Mum” messages, scammers typically send a WhatsApp or a text message from an unknown number, impersonating a child.

It almost always begins with: “Hi Mum”.

Police say they continue with something along the lines of “I’ve changed provider/lost/broken my phone – I’m temporarily using this number for now.”

An example of a text message scammers use to prey on the emotions of victims.(ABC News)

Once the scammer receives a response from a concerned parent, they continue to pretend to be their child and eventually request money using the emergency as their reason for needing the funds.

The most common tactic is claiming to have lost or broken their phone as a justification for a funds transfer, because they can’t access their online banking, says the ACCC.

The ACCC says scammers may also ask for personal information, which may then be used to scam other family members.

Victims usually then transfer funds to bank accounts provided by the scammers, which are often set up fraudulently. 

So far this year $7.2 million has been reported stolen from at least 11,100 victims, the ACCC says.

The number of victims impacted by the scam has increased tenfold from August, when the organisation reported that 1,150 Australians had fallen victim to the scam and total losses had reached $2.6 million.

It is estimated that just 13 per cent of victims report being scammed, largely due to the embarrassment that can be felt as a result of being conned.

Who are scammers targeting?

Millions of Australians have had their personal information compromised this year through hacks on Optus, Medibank and other Australian institutions.

It’s been a boon for illegal activity.

But the rise of the “Hi Mum” scam might have little to do with the stolen data.


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National Cyber Security