An Australian mother has been and fears there will be “no repercussions” for the cyber criminal that tricked her with a simple text.
Nina Merrilees, from Victoria, from someone pretending to be her daughter, who lives overseas. She said no alarm bells went off for her as her daughter had changed phone numbers several times since leaving Australia.
However, little did Merrilees know that that led to her losing thousands and has been used to fleece millions of dollars from Australians around the country.
The tone of the messages coming from her daughter’s “new” number seemed very legitimate as they were in the style she usually speaks. So, Nina sent multiple payments to help her “daughter” out of the tough spot.
She only realised it was a ‘Hi Mum scam’ when her daughter later called from her usual number.
“The sinking, palpitations in the heart, I just went into a complete panic,” she told 7News. “You just think we worked so hard for this and then these thieves just steal your money and there seems to be no repercussions.”
Evolving scams deal $7.2 million blow to Aussies
The ‘Hi Mum’ scam affected more than 11,000 Aussies in 2022, with thieves stealing at least $7.2 million. NAB said 70 per cent of the 1,500 scams targeting their customers a month involved impersonation of some kind – whether that be scams pretending to be , the or .
What’s worrying is that the scammers are upping the ante to convince would-be victims that they’re speaking to a loved one. They can then imitate that person during a phone call or when sending a voice note and it makes the scam appear more legitimate.
“They can be created with as little as three seconds of audio taken from a social media post, voicemail or video on a website,” NAB’s advisory awareness manager, Laura Hartley told Yahoo Finance.
“We know they are happening in the UK and US, in particular, and anticipate it’s just a matter of time before these scams head Down Under.”
How do I protect myself from scammers?
Aussies lost a record $3.1 billion to scammers last year, an 80 per cent increase on the previous year.
Scamwatch warn to beware of the following scenarios:
It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money
Someone you haven’t met needs your help – and money
The message contains links or attachments
You feel pressured to act quickly
They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way
They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID
What should I do if I think I’ve been scammed?
Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.
Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.
You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.
Eugen Boglaru is an AI aficionado covering the fascinating and rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence. From machine learning breakthroughs to ethical considerations, Eugen provides readers with a deep dive into the world of AI, demystifying complex concepts and exploring the transformative impact of intelligent technologies.