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WhatsApp ‘hi dad’ scam almost costs immunologist Alan Baxter 5k after fraudster poses as his son

A scientist who was the target of a “mom and dad” social media scam in which he lost nearly $5,000 ended up in the swindle thanks to the criminal’s lack of punctuation.

Australian immunologist and avid Twitter user Alan Baxter has now attacked banks for helping cybercriminals and failing to get the scammer’s account banned.

“Hi Dad, this is my temporary number. I’ll be using an old device until my phone is fixed,” the message read.

Immunologist Alan Baxter shared a conversation he had on WhatsApp with a scammer who claimed to be his son (pictured)

Immunologist Alan Baxter shared a conversation he had on WhatsApp with a scammer who claimed to be his son (pictured)

The scammer, posing as Mr. Baxter's 'son', said he needed money to fix his phone problem (pictured)

The scammer, posing as Mr. Baxter’s ‘son’, said he needed money to fix his phone problem (pictured)

Mr. Baxter, also known as the “Mommy and Daddy” scam, was the target of the WhatsApp fraud in which fraudsters impersonate the child of a person in desperate need of money.

Mr Baxter (pictured) recognized the message as a scam and contacted the ANZ bank after the scammer requested a transfer to an ANZ account

Mr Baxter (pictured) recognized the message as a scam and contacted the ANZ bank after the scammer requested a transfer to an ANZ account

Mr Baxter said the poor grammar in the message immediately told him it was not written by his son, and immediately contacted ANZ customer service to report the attempted fraud.

“My son is an English teacher so the lack of grammar and points warned me,” Mr Baxter told the Daily Mail Australia.

“I first contacted ANZ customer service but was told it (the scam) had nothing to do with the banking business and there was nothing they could do.

“I thought it was an opportunity for the bank to close or freeze the account and even examine the money received.”

Mr Baxter alleges that the ANZ bank refused to use the scammers' account details despite the bank's account (photo, ANZ branch in Seven Hills, Sydney)

Mr Baxter alleges that the ANZ bank refused to use the scammers’ account details despite the bank’s account (photo, ANZ branch in Seven Hills, Sydney)

HOW TO DETECT SCAM MESSAGES

1) Scammers can make messages look real. Even if you’ve received legitimate text messages from the same number before, don’t assume all subsequent messages are genuine. Scammers can “fake” real phone numbers or email addresses so that they appear to come from your own bank or other legitimate contact.

2) It is different in style from the first SMS. The previous SMS is legit and only provides information. It tells you to log in to your account, but does not provide links that lead to potentially harmful websites.

3) It has a malicious link. The new SMS contains a link to a phishing website. These types of websites try to trick you into providing personal information such as your bank account information, passwords, and credit card numbers. Even if you think the text is genuine, it’s safer not to click any links and log into your account by typing your bank’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator) directly into the address bar. The address bar appears at the top of your web browser and the numbers and letters that make up the URL are directions to the website or webpage.

4) It is not safe. Legitimate sites that contain sensitive information don’t use https as http, but don’t rely on it alone – some scam sites also use https.

5) It has a sense of urgency† Scams often try to create a sense of urgency. Don’t rush – take the time to think about what the message is telling you to do and consider if it’s real.

Mr Baxter said the customer service representative refused to take the scammer’s account information and hung up the phone after asking to speak to a manager.

“So a general warning: if someone tries to trick you into sending money to the following ANZ account, it’s likely fraud: Name: George MM BSB: 016 080 Account Number: 316157952,” Mr Baxter wrote on the Twitter post .

‘It all raises the question of what responsibility a bank that facilitates fraud has in such a situation.

“They are clearly taking advantage of the fraud, providing the resources to enable it and refusing to intervene even when evidence is presented.”

In a response to Mr Baxter’s tweet, an ANZ employee said a screenshot of the scam had been sent to the bank’s hoax and cybersecurity department.

ANZ bank has since placed ‘restrictions’ on the account and is investigating the scam.

“We were made aware of the issue and our teams took immediate steps to address it, including account restrictions,” an ANZ spokesperson told the Daily Mail Australia.

“As this case is still under investigation, we cannot discuss it further.”

A number of Twitter users said they had received similar scam texts from unknown numbers on WhatsApp.

“I recently had the exact same first message via WhatsApp, except mine was ‘Hello, Mom,'” one user commented.

“Since my only child was in the same room with me at the time, I just marked it as spam.”

“I’ve had two text messages on WhatsApp,” another user wrote.

“I almost fell for the first one because my daughter had moved from one to another. I wanted my visa number to pay a bill. Tried calling the number no answer. Blocked and reported to WhatsApp.”

It comes after an Adelaide grandfather was scammed into sending $42,000 to a scammer posing as his son.

Nigel Gammon often used WhatsApp to talk to his son Jock, who had recently moved abroad.

The 77-year-old man believed the text he received on May 27 was from his son and promptly sent pictures of the front and back of his credit card.

Scamwatch reported 325 cases of WhatsApp 'Mommy and Dad' scams since the beginning of the year, with 96 cases reporting a $710,672 financial loss (shown, data table provided by Scamwatch)

Scamwatch reported 325 cases of WhatsApp ‘Mommy and Dad’ scams since the beginning of the year, with 96 cases reporting a $710,672 financial loss (shown, data table provided by Scamwatch)

“Anyone who gets a message from their son would feel the same if you could help with that,” Nigel said. 9News

“I am very upset about the whole incident, I think my son especially feels guilty.

“It was one in the morning there and I just didn’t want to call him, which I should have.”

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch, Australians have reported total losses of $710,672 in 2022 to “Mommy and Dad” WhatsApp scams.

“Scamwatch received 325 reports of ‘mom and dad’ scams and 96 (29.5%) of these reports stated a financial loss,” Scamwatch told the Daily Mail Australia.

Last year, Aussies lost a whopping $323.7 million to scams — a whopping 84 percent more than in 2020 (stock image)

Last year, Aussies lost a whopping $323.7 million to scams — a whopping 84 percent more than in 2020 (stock image)

Scamwatch warned Australians about the WhatsApp scam in a message on its Twitter account on May 25.

“If you get an unexplained message from someone claiming to have a new number or bank account, call them directly at their usual number to confirm,” Scamwatch wrote.

Last year, Aussies lost a whopping $323.7 million in scams — a whopping 84 percent more than in 2020 — with those over 65 being the most vulnerable to the scams.

Australians are encouraged to report scams to the ACCC and social media providers and are asked to contact their bank if account details have been provided to a scammer.

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