Police urge people to be on their guard after fraudsters pose as children
Residents are being urged to be aware of an emerging scam where fraudsters have posed as victim’s children in a bid to steal thousands of pounds.
West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Assessment Hub is aware of several reports in recent weeks in which parents have received a WhatsApp or text message from someone falsely purporting to be their son or daughter in desperate need, and asking for cash.
Acting DS Pam Gillings from the Economic Crime Unit said: “New and evolving frauds are particularly hard to spot but this one is cruel in its deception, making concerned parents believe their son or daughter are in financial difficulties and need their help.
“We and colleagues nationally are investigating reports of this offence and would ask residents to please make sure you share details of this fraud with your families to prevent you becoming a victim in the first place.”
In the fraud, the victim receives a text message from the fraudster, who pretends to be their child. They claim they have changed their number; their phone is damaged, or they have lost their phone to explain why they are contacting them on a different number to the usual one.
The fraudster will then claim they are in trouble and need help to pay a bill or to pay someone they owe money to and ask for various amounts up to around £3,000.
The payment is made on the promise the money will be returned. Instead the cash is paid into a criminal’s bank account.
Once the money has been transferred, it can be extremely difficult to trace and get back.
Acting DS Gillings said: “If you receive or suspect you have received a scam message like this, try contacting your loved ones through a trusted method such as their usual phone number to confirm the request is genuine.
“Insist you speak to them over the phone rather than trusting that the person at the end of the text message is who they say they are and do not send any money until it is confirmed it is going to your family members account.
“If you believe you have been a victim of this fraud please report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre by calling 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk."