Last Updated on 1st February 2022

Police in Northern Ireland issued a warning last year following a surge of reports about a WhatsApp scam targeting victims across the region. This scam involves a scammer pretending to be a child or relative asking their loved ones for money via a WhatsApp message. 

Superintendent Gerard Pollock, Chair of the ScamwiseNI Partnership, said:

Please don’t get caught out. If you get a message of this nature, please take time to make contact, by a reliable means, with your loved one. Don’t enter into a dialogue using the same text or WhatsApp trail. 

The Facts

  • The PSNI received 11 reports on one day in October 2021 alone, with more following. 

  • The scam involves a person pretending to be a family member, often a son or daughter, who is asking for money.

  • The messages are backed by a story that the child has recently changed their mobile phone number.

  • The child then says they are short on money or are late paying bills before asking for money to be transferred into an account.

WhatsApp screenshot of scam message pretending to be a daughter
WhatsApp screenshot of scam asking for bank details
WhatsApp screenshot of scam asking for money

Our Advice

If you or someone you know encounters a scam like this one, it’s important to stay calm, think rationally, and seek help. The Police advise the public to be cautious and offer the following advice for reporting scams:

  • Email – if you feel unsure about an email you have received, you can forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Services at [email protected]
  • Website – if you have come across a website that you suspect is fake, you can report it to the National Cyber Security Centre using this link.
  • Text Message – You can report suspicious text messages for free by sending them to 7726. This will allow your provider to investigate the message and take appropriate action to tackle fraud.

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For more information and advice on how to protect yourself against scams, use the resources below:

ScamwiseNI Partnership – NI Direct
The Little Book of Big Scams – ScamwiseNI Partnership