Written by James McDonald

October 12, 2022

The other day my mother who has just turned 80 received a WhatsApp message from someone pretending to be one of her children. Mum lives with my Sister so she assumed this was me.

What to look out for

The Spiel:
  • “I” had dropped my phone in the toilet, and that was why the WhatsApp message came from another mobile number, (ironically just a few months earlier I had dropped my phone in the toilet so this was totally believable of “me”)
  • that this new number was my new number and please replace it in her contacts
  • that they had urgent high value bills to pay and there would be big problems if it wasn’t paid immediately
  • because of the lost phone “I” couldn’t authenticate with the bank to pay them myself
  • and could “mum” please forward the payment for the bills to the bank account number they provided via WhatsApp

My mother being an absolutely wonderful human being who has always steadfastly supported her children was happy to send the over $5000 requested to “me”

But she is also the mother of tech saavy children working in IT so has an awareness of scams.

So fortunately she did two things

  1. Formulated and asked a security question that only her child would be able to answer and
  2. Decided to double check if my mobile number was phoneable

The first point was all that was need to make the scammer delete all the WhatsApp messages and leave mum alone.

The second point meant mum immediately got hold of me and told me all about it.

I’m so grateful to her, firstly for knowing that if I needed $5K at the drop of a hat for something important she was willing to pony-up and secondly that she would only do so after properly verifying that it really was a valid request from one of her adoreable children.

The lesson

Be like my mother, trust but verify

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