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Alert: fraudsters sending sick text messages targeting parents

24th June 2014

Fraudsters are targeting parents with distressing text messages posing as their children in order to obtain mobile phone top-up codes.

Moneywise has uncovered a distressing text scam targeting parents. The scam begins with a text message from a scammer posing as the intended victims’ child. 

The scammer texts that the child has been injured in a car accident and has been forced to use someone else's phone. The purpose of the scam is to get the recipient to send the fraudster a mobile phone top-up code.

When you buy a mobile top-up, you are given an activation code, which is what the fraudsters are targeting. Once they have the code, they can get the cash credited to their own mobile phone account.

One of Moneywise’s readers, who wished to remain anonymous, initially received this message: 

5.00pm: "Mum thers been a accident I'm in the hospital I'm okay but my friend ain't he's in the ICU ward. Mum it was a seriouse car crash. I don't think he's goin to make it he went threw the window screen of the car. Mum my phone is switched off and not comin on. I'm on this number. The doctor said know phones in the ICU ward so text mum cause this phone has only got texes. I need you to do me a favour. All the hospital phone lines are down. I'm in shock that this has happened. Iv got to see the doctor. Iv just got a minor head injurie. Mum, please hurry and text back to this number. I need you to do me a favour. Xx"

After replying here is what the scammers sent in full:

5.08pm: "Mum Iv got to phone freinds  family this phone only has texes. Can you please get to the shop and get a Orange top up voucher and text it threw. I'm going to get seen by doctor then go outside and phone hes family. Mum Iv got to sort this. Please dnt worrie enyone just yet and please get me enuf credit. I wil explain evrything soon. Mum, please get me enuf, £40 top-up im going to be on the phone for ages."

5.11pm: "Please hurry mum. im just goin to see the doctor. Send it as soon as u get it. I wil phone when I go ouside. Please dnt worrie enyone yet until I no what's goin on with my friend."

At this point, she again texted back to ask why her “son” needed an Orange top-up when he was a Vodafone customer - to which came the following replies:

5.13pm: "Know, this ain't my phone mum. It's switched off. This is Orange."
5.14pm: "Mum please hurry. The doctors are movin my friend again."
5.20pm: "U need to text it. I'm stil in the ICU ward."

Designed to play on your emotions

Scams like this are designed to play on your emotions and get you to react quickly without thinking. Cyber crime expert Simon Freeman from said the the scam could easily become more believable by incorporating some personal details that are freely available online.

"If leakage of our personal data continues at the current pace then such scams may eventually become indistinguishable from reality. For instance, imagine this scam if personal details were used such as real names, real locations, real car details."

If you receive one of these text messages, don't send any codes or money, delete it and report it to us.

For further information visit the Moneywise website.

Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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