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Victim of text scam explains how crafty cyber criminals cost him £2,000

If any parent received a message from their child asking “Can you help me?”, their natural instinct would be to drop everything and help in any way they can.

However, when Peter Saunt was sent a message he believed was from his son asking that very question, it turned out to be falsified and cost him thousands of pounds.

Mr Saunt, from Barwell in Leicestershire, said that he wants to warn others about the devious trick, so that people are aware of fraudsters and their methods for abusing people’s good nature and applying pressure to send over cash, particularly after he saw an identical message that was sent to a friend of his daughter, reports Leicestershire Live.

He first received a text on October 1, from an unknown mobile number, claiming to be his son having lost his phone and switched to a temporary replacement.

Here is how the conversation developed:

Scammers : Hi Dad, I’ve somehow lost my phone so this is my new number. Save it please.

Mr Saunt: Done it xxx

Scammers: I’ve looked everywhere for it. Even tried to call it a few times. X

Mr Saunt: Have you left it at work, when did you notice it had gone, no bank details on it I hope xx

Scammers: I’ll call my network provider now to get it blocked xx

Mr Saunt: Any credit cards in it

Scammers: Yes my current account debit card. I’ve blocked that as well.

Just got off the phone to my bank, they’re saying I won’t be able to make any bank transfers because I’ve got a new number now. I can’t receive any text from my old sim to make a payment.

This day can’t get any worse…

Can you help me with this payment?

I’ll transfer it back when my internet banking updates. Xx

Mr Saunt: What pmt do you need

Scammers: For my online course

Mr Saunt: Ok how much

Scammers: It’s for £1950 dad..I hope that’s okay with you. X

Mr Saunt: Yes mum will trans £2000 now but where do we trans to and how you paying for course with no card

Scammers: Was going to transfer it to the tutor

Mr Saunt: Just send me details and mum will transfer tomorrow xx

Scammers: 1 min

Just double checking details x

Mr Saunt: Ok so it’s for £1950

Scammers: Yes £1950

I can pay it back Monday

Mr Saunt: What all of it

Scammers: Yes some at least and the rest couple days after

Let me know if can’t be done tonight

Mr Saunt: Alright I’ll message you tomorrow

Ok, don’t worry it will be sorted xxxx

The concerned dad was taken in by the scammers’ ploy as his son works as a doctor and regularly does course for his profession.

Mr Saunt said: “Nothing indicated that it wasn’t him, it was like a mirror image of a conversation I had with my son recently, why would I be suspicious.

“The feelings both my wife and I are going through are sickening, so I really want to get the message out please be very careful.”

He tried calling the number to check up on his son but when it was picked up, the line was very distorted and all they could hear was music playing in the background.

The following day, the fraudsters continued to put pressure on the couple to send over the money:

Mr Saunt: Can you send details to mums phone, she will do it, she is in work though x

Scammers: I’ve lost most contacts.. forward it to her

I’ll get you details

Mr Saunt: Ok send them me I’ll send it her

[The scammers send over the bank details]

Mr Saunt: Sent it to mum x

Scammers: Okay x

Let me know when to check x

Has mum sent it? X

Dad?

Mr Saunt: I’m off to work send her your new phone number

Scammers: I need her to send it now dad. X

I don’t have mums number.. could you just get her to transfer it over now x

Mr Saunt: Let me try her

Scammers: Dad shes got the details right?

Mr Saunt: Yes she needs to check her phone cause I’ve told her to do it now because she says will do it tonight, phone [removed] else it won’t get done

Scammers: I can’t phone [removed] because my mic is awful on this phone. It’s really old

Mr Saunt: I’ll do it but can it wait till 5

Scammers: Not really..unless I’ve got no choice but to wait. x

Mr Saunt: Spoke to mum she doing it now will text me once done

It’s done xx

Later that day, Mr Saunt called his son on his normal mobile number, only to find that he had never lost his phone at all.

“The feeling of guilt, shame and disgust I feel within myself for falling for this scam is huge.

“If you receive any suspicious please contact the police and warn others.

“Less that 24 hours after our scam, our daughter showed us a text a friend had also received identical to ours.

“There is also one going around now stating to be from the NHS regarding a Covid test.

“If you are not sure delete it.”

Action Fraud warns against being taken in by these false messages.

The group says: “Cyber criminals use fake messages as bait to lure you into clicking on the links within their scam email or text message, or to give away sensitive information such as bank details.

“These messages may look like the real thing but are malicious. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords.

“Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.”

You can report an incident of fraud by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.

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