Be aware of scammers pretending to be family members in need

Posted by: Belinda Hargreaves

Tue 23rd January 2024

Police are urging Derbyshire residents to be aware of scammers pretending to be family members in need.
The message has been sent out via Derbyshire Constabulary’s email alert system.
A spokesman for the force said: “Hi Dad, it’s me. I’ve broken my phone and have got a new number. I desperately need to pay my rent, can you help me out?”
“If you receive a message like this, chances are you’d rush to help your family member or friend. But this is what the scammers rely on.
“The latest video in our ‘Sock it to the Scammers’ series focusses on this type of messaging scam, which is often seen on WhatsApp, and has cost some Derbyshire victims hundreds of pounds.”
People can watch the video here
Fraud Protect Officer Tammy Barnes said: “Thousands of these messages are sent out by scammers in the hope that one person believes it truly is their son or daughter needing help.
“The scammers will make the money issue seem urgent and pressure the victim into sending cash immediately. This is to make sure there isn’t time to verify who they claim to be.
“You can stop this scam in its tracks by remembering Claude the sock puppet and his message of “Stop. Think. Tell.”
“Please share this message with your friends and family to protect them against these scams too.”
As part of the force’s ‘Sock it to the Scammers’ series, Derbyshire Police also spoke to Angela, who received a series of messages from a scammer pretending to be her daughter.
Angela has shared her story here to help raise awareness of these scams, and to make sure more people know what to do if they receive a similar message.
Angela remembers how the scammer had made her feel stupid for questioning the messages: “I actually said, ‘Is this a scam?’ and the message came back ‘Gosh you are suspicious, just calm down.’”
The messages then asked Angela for a favour: paying a £650 bill that needed paying that day.
When Angela replied she wouldn’t do this, the messages stopped and a later phone conversation with her daughter revealed that Angela hadn’t been speaking to her at all.
She said: “It was emotional blackmail because I was thinking I should be able to help my daughter. It did affect me for quite some time.”
Officer Barnes added: “These scams are really tough on those targeted by the criminals, as they take advantage of our instinct to help a loved one.
“Angela reached out to us after realising the messages were fake, and thankfully she hadn’t shared money or details, so we’ve been able to support her with advice for avoiding future scams.
“If you receive a message like this, remember to “Stop. Think. Tell.” Don’t do anything in a hurry, verify the claims that the messages are making, and report it.”

To find out more about the ‘Sock it to the Scammers’ campaign, go to here

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