South Yorkshire Police's Fraud Coordination Team is aware of a number of reports in recent weeks where parents have received a WhatsApp, text or voice message from someone purporting to be their son or daughter.The scammer, posing as the victim's child, claims they are in trouble and need help to pay a bill. The parent then sends money to the fraudster's bank account. The victims have each lost amounts of up to £4,600.Angela Senior, from the Fraud Coordination Team, said: “Scams where a concerned parent is tricked into thinking their child is in financial trouble and needs help were first seen in the summer, and unfortunately, we have received a number of further reports of this scam in recent weeks."In the scam, the victim receives a message from the fraudster, who pretends to be their son or daughter. They claim they have changed their mobile number or lost their phone to explain why they are contacting them on a different number to usual.
"They promise they will return the money the following day when they're able to go to the bank and get the cash - but of course it's all lies and the money has actually been sent to a criminal's bank account.“We are encouraging you to be conscious of this scam once again, and to think carefully before you transfer money, even if you think you know who you are sending it to. Please make sure you share details of this scam with your families to prevent you becoming victims in the first place."If you suspect you have received a scam message like this, try contacting your loved one 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.If you have been a victim of this scam, you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk.