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Community & Business

2 November, 2022

Gil residents hit with ‘Hi Mum’ scam

Police are warning the public to be cautious with any unsolicited contact via social media, in the high chance it is a scam.

By Emily Middleton

Last month, a Gilgandra person was contacted on WhatsApp, by a person claiming to be a close relative. During the exchange, a large amount of money was transferred by the victim to a number of accounts. It was later established this was a ‘Hi Mum’ scam.

More than 1150 Australians fell victim to the so-called ‘Hi Mum’ scam in the first seven months of this year, with total reported losses of $2.6 million, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

This scam has victims contacted - most often through WhatsApp - by a scammer posing as a family member or friend.

“The scammer will claim they have lost or damaged their phone and are making contact from a new number,” said a spokesperson from the ACCC.

“Then, once they have developed a rapport with their target, the scammer will ask for personal information such as photos for their social media profile or money to help urgently pay a bill, contractor or replace the phone.”

ACCC deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said that the high volume of reports of ‘Hi Mum’ scams is concerning, and warns Australians to be very wary.

“Scammers will stop at nothing to get your personal details or money and this particular scam is designed to pull your heartstrings,” said Ms Rickard.

“It’s important to stop and think if you get a message, especially on WhatsApp, because chances are it’s not your family member or friend – it’s a scammer.”

The ACCC is urging people who receive suspicious messages from a number they don’t recognise, to independently verify the contact.

“If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative or friend, start by calling them on the number already stored in your phone to confirm if it’s no longer in use. If they pick up – you’ll know it’s a scam,” said Ms Rickard.

“If unable to make contact, you should try a secondary contact method to verify who you’re speaking to.

“If you still can’t contact your family member or friend, consider asking a personal question a scammer couldn’t know the answer to, so you know the person you are speaking to is who they say they are.”

“Above all, never send money without being absolutely sure who you are sending it to.”

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