Police warn of new WhatsApp scam

The PSNI is warning Whatsapp users of a new scam which has targeted dozens of people across the country since the beginning of September.The criminals pose as a family member, often a son or daughter, who is short of cash or needs a bill paid.A total of 21 cases have been reported to the police to date but they believe there could be many more unreported.Two people have so far fallen victim to the scam, losing close to £4,000 between them.Superintendent Gerard Pollock said: “In each case, a person purporting to be a family member, often a daughter or son, asks for money. Typically, the ‘child’ is short of money or late paying bills, and makes an ask for the recipient to transfer money into an account.  This is backed by a story that he or she has recently changed their phone or phone number.“Fraudsters will use any means possible to trick people. While scams may come in all shapes and sizes, they have one thing in common – scammers rely upon the good faith and vulnerability of those they target.  Hard-earned savings can easily be gone in a flash and, with it, one’s confidence."Police believe the scammers could be part of an organised crime gang working outside of Northern Ireland.Similar scams have also appeared in England, Scotland and Wales since the beginning of September.Supt Pollock 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.  So don’t enter into a dialogue using the same text or WhatsApp trail.”

 For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni.If you have any concerns about unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040.  You can also call police on the non-emergency number 101.