Sheelagh Stewart believed she was messaging her daughter during the exchange in which the artist asked for money because their online banking had frozen
Brits are being warned of WhatsApp scammers after a mum was conned out of more than £2,500 by a person posing as her distressed daughter.
Sheelagh Stewart believed she was messaging her daughter Beth, 22, during the exchange in which the artist asked for money because their online banking had frozen.
The pharmacy worker, 65, from East Calder in West Lothian, told Daily Record the person who she thought was Beth claimed they had dropped their phone down the toilet and it had been soaked with water.
They said their online banking had frozen for 48 hours due to a security policy, and claimed to have a £1390.45 invoice they urgently needed to pay for a buy now, pay later order.
Sheelagh instantly transferred the cash which she had been saving for a trip for her and Beth.
The distraught mum said: “I was convinced the messages were from Beth. The grammar was the same, there was no broken English, it didn’t seem like an odd message to receive from her.
“It never crossed my mind to question it. To be told about a broken phone and to be asked for some help is definitely the kind of text a child would send to their parent.
“I’ve since shown the messages to someone who works in a bank and they said if their daughter had sent them they would have sent them money too.
“Like any mum, my initial reaction was to help her.”
Sheelagh then transferred a further £1,180.28 to the account details provided by the scammer upon request, believing her beautician daughter must have had ordered equipment for her job.
“Beth is a beautician and the salon she was working in had just been raided, so I thought the money must have been for equipment.
“It just never occurred to me that it could be a scam.”
But alarm bells started ringing when the scammer asked for a further £996.48.
Sheelagh asked her daughter to confirm her identity, to which she received a reply saying ‘mum, stop freaking out’ and ‘only I would know your hair is blonde’.
“That was when I realized what was really going on,” she said.
“I had planned to use that money to take Beth on a really special surprise trip.
“I only earn £9 an hour so that money is a lot of money to me.
“I honestly feel so stupid.”
Sheelagh’s bank Santander and Police Scotland confirmed to the Record they have launched investigations into the scam.
Police Sergeant James Gowling of Livingstone Police Station added: “Scammers are becoming ever more sophisticated in how they target their victims and can be very convincing and persuasive in their methods.
“If you are ever unsure of any calls, texts or emails you receive, always make every effort to ensure that the person is who they claim to be, represent who they claim to represent and are legitimate and reputable.
“It is important to remember that fraudsters do not only target the elderly and vulnerable. Absolutely anyone is at risk of becoming a victim of fraud.”
Lisa Webb, Which? Consumer Law Expert, added: “These WhatsApp scams are one of the latest brazen examples of callous fraudsters coming up with new tactics to part innocent victims from their hard-earned cash.
“If you’re in any doubt at all, give your family member or friend a quick call to check it’s really them.”
Earlier this year, an urgent WhatsApp warning was issued to all of its two billion users after it emerged a new scam is doing the rounds, trying to encourage people to hand over personal details.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.