The next message you receive from your parents may not be as legitimate as you think, as scammers are trying a new approach: pretending to be your parents.
A scammer’s job is never done, it seems, and they will do anything to relieve you of your hard-earned money. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t do anything to earn it, but they still want it and always come up with questionable tactics to trick you.
This year so far, Aussies lost $380m in scamsmainly to investment scams, as the lure and promise of making more money is often a quick way to convince people to hand over money.
Alternatively, another approach is popping up in Australia this week, as scammers seek to use your parents’ messages as the ultimate lure.
Popping up in Australia over the past few weeks, scammers pretend to be ‘Mom’ and message you, asking for money because they left their card at home. What’s going on?
How the Mom SMS Scam Works
Pretending to be someone has something of a norm for scammers lately, spoofing real companies using a different sender id in text messages, but the focus is normally on Telstra, JB HiFi, Uber, etc. Large corporations are the typical target, not so much small fish.
In mum texting scams circulating in Australia, the sender ID is simply ‘mum’, even if the phone number it comes from is not your mother’s. The sender has nothing to do with your real mother and instead uses the name that many Australians have for their mother in their phone as the sender name.
From there, the text is pretty straightforward, saying something like:
“I’m at the supermarket and I brought the wrong card with me. Can you please send me 150. I’ll refund you when I get home.
You’ll see a BSB and an account number next to it, that’s the heart of the message. We have seen variations covering different locations, like Woolies, Coles and the gas station. The amounts requested typically range from $100 to $200, and the bank deposit details are different each time.
But the idea is the same for each message: scammers pretend to be someone familiar you know, falsifying the identity and hoping that you do not understand that it is a ruse. It wouldn’t surprise us if they answered if you answered.
What can you do to avoid the fake parent SMS scam?
We wouldn’t be surprised if scammers have started to fake the sender’s identity for more than just “mom”, with any common name for a relative as a possible target. Mom and dad are names that many people use for their parents, and these may be in your phone.
Granted, they will be there under their respective real phone numbers, but at a glance, you might not verify. You might just assume that the message is real and that you need to send money ASAP.
Don’t send anything. Don’t even answer. Just find the person’s real number in your phone and call them to find out if the message is legit.
If a message comes in claiming to be from someone you know, check to see if the number is legit and if it’s from the number you have for that person. If possible, call that person using the number you have and confirm the message yourself.
The good news is that if you have that person’s number in your phone, verification is very, very easy. The bad news is that if you follow the instructions and send the money immediately, it will probably be lost, at least until the bank intervenes.
The frustrating news is that this type of scam appears to be circulating on Australian phones this year, hoping to damage the emotions and wallets of anyone unlucky enough not to check out.
So, if you see any of these messages, do just that: check. Just as you should check if a message seems too good to be true, like looking at who sent you an email saying if you’ve won something, check that text by checking with the real person it apparently came from.
Call the real person to find out if it’s legit, then report the scam to Scamwatch. While it’s not yet clear if there is much that authorities can do, reporting it may see the bank remove and track the account holders in question, and hopefully prevent someone else from ending up. in a delicate situation.