Sick scammers are targeting parents with text messages designed to con them into paying for mobile phone credit.
Victims receive text messages which claim to be from a loved one using someone else’s phone. The messages say that they have been in an accident, and need phone credit to be topped up so that they can stay in touch.
An example of one of the messages, sent to fraud reporting service Action Fraud, read: “Mum I did try and phone from someone else phone, signal is really bad, there has been a terrible car accident.
“I’m in the ICU ward in hospital my phone ain’t switching on and needs charging. I’m on this mobile number please make sure you reply to this number, my friend didn’t make it he died before we got to hospital and his sister’s fighting for her life.
“Mum I had my seatbelt on, I’ve got a head injury but i’m ok. Going into X-ray to be seen, please make sure you message me back and don’t phone because mobile phones aren’t allowed here so please text in case I’m in there.
“I will go outside and phone you mum it’s really bad i need you to do me favour before it’s too late, as soon as you get my text please reply by text I need you to do me a favour mum, time is running out and I need you to do something mum”.
If the fraudsters receive a response from the victim, they then reply with a message asking them to purchase a mobile phone top-up code and text it back to them.
Once the fraudsters have the code, they can get the cash credited to their own mobile phone account.
There are variations of the scam out there, which could include shorter versions of the text messages, or versions lying about different scenarios.
What the messages all have in common is that they are designed to manipulate your emotions to rip you off.
What to do
The thing to remember, is that if your loved one is in trouble, they would never be forced to use a mobile phone that required credit to activate it.
If you receive one of these text messages from a number you don’t recognise, don’t send any codes or money. Instead, delete it and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.