Paula Boughton, from Paignton, Devon, thought she was making payments on behalf of her daughter, however she later realised she had sent this money to criminals. WhatsApp users have been warned about a “mum and dad scam” which has seen one woman conned out of £16,000.
Scammers have been posing as family members to convince their victims to transfer funds.
Britons are urged to be vigilant when being contacted by random numbers claiming to be family members who have lost their phone.
Ms Boughton is warning people as she believed she was speaking with her daughter because the messages sent were “personal and genuine”, but this was not the case.
In total, she paid around £16,000 to a person she believed to be her daughter.
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Her bank, Santander, was able to stop the last transaction and has refunded the rest of the money.
She said the messages were convincing because they correlated with what was going on in their lives.
It was only because her daughter, Sam, didn’t reply to say good night that she suspected something was wrong.
Warnings have now been issued about this particular sort of scam.
“I received a text message from what I presumed was my daughter, asking me to delete the old phone number as she’d been given a new number,” Mrs Boughton told BBC.
She continued: “It went on after a couple of lines of text to ask me if I would make a transaction for her, which I agreed to, if she sent me the sort code, the payee’s details, and the account number.
“I presumed it was my daughter, and I thought, well, because of the situation, I was able to do that, and I feel that I’ve been made a fool of.”
Paula’s daughter Sam said she “felt sick” when she first found out about the scam.
“Why on Earth, when I know she’s savvy with things and technology and you know, knowing there’s a lot of fraud out there and fake scams, why would she pay that much money?” Sam said.
She added: “I was furious, I was really angry, I had lots of mixed emotions.
“Then when I got here and I learned more about the situation, I realised how she had paid it and how she had got to that point.”
If someone gets a close friend or family member asking for money, it is suggested that people should give them a phone call on their original phone number – just to double-check they are telling the truth.
People should never give out security codes for any accounts to anyone. Alternatively, asking them to send a voice note to verify who they are. If in doubt, then don’t send the money.
WhatsApp’s policy manager, Kathryn Harnett said: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security.
“And if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.”
Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Control, Santander UK: “We’ve seen the volume of WhatsApp scams skyrocket over the last few months.
“By preying on people’s relationships with their loved ones, while simultaneously applying immense pressure, these crooks are successfully getting into people’s heads and persuading them to hand over their hard-earned cash.
“Don’t let them win – verify who you’re messaging, before sending money.”