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Help your child, not a scammer. Everything you need to know about the “Hi mum, Hi dad” scam on WhatsApp

Cristina POPOV

April 24, 2024

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Help your child, not a scammer. Everything you need to know about the “Hi mum, Hi dad” scam on WhatsApp

“Hi, Mom, this is my new number. Can you save it and send me a message on WhatsApp as soon as you see this?”

“Hey Dad, I’m in trouble. I lost my phone and need money – please text me at this number.”

“Hey Mom! So embarrassed – dropped my phone in water and it’s completely dead. I am borrowing a friend’s phone but need your help. Please send a WhatsApp when you get this.”

These are just a few examples of how scammers contact parents on WhatsApp, pretending they are their child who needs help immediately. If you are not a parent, you’ll know instantly it’s a scam. But if you are, the instinct to help your child may be stronger than the logic. The scam will not flash out as anything unusual when you are used to communicating on WhatsApp or sending them money when they need it.

Here’s everything you need to know about this type of scam to make sure you help your child, not a scammer.

How the scam works

The scam begins with a text message from an unknown number pretending to be from their child. The recipient is told that their family member has lost or broken their phone and is trying to contact them on a borrowed one. The scammer usually asks their victim to save the number and contact them back. Once you have replied to the text as requested, the scammer will:

  • Ask for money or help making a payment - “I need to pay for a new phone – can you send money to me via this link? I promise I’ll pay you back next week.”
  • Try to access your online accounts. “I have to make a payment, but I don’t have the banking app set up on this phone – can you text me the code that was sent to your phone?”
  • Claim that they lost files and pictures - to extort money and personal information from the unsuspecting victim. I’ve lost all the documents and photos, can you send me pictures of our family?

Versions and variations: One of the latest versions of this scam is that instead of text messages, cybercriminals clone voices to extort money and either call victims or send them voice messages. The scams could be created with as little as three seconds of audio taken from a social media profile, voicemail, or video on a website.

Scammers may also try contacting grandparents, aunts, and uncles or impersonating other family members, such as cousins.

How to recognize a “Hi Mom” scam

Even though the exact wording will differ – and sometimes take the form of a “Hi Dad” text – these fake messages follow a pattern. The following clues can point to a scam text:

  • the call is from an unknown cell phone number
  • says it's an emergency and requests immediate help
  • gives you a suspicious reason for using a strange cell phone number
  • requests to transfer money

What to do if you receive a suspicious message on WhatsApp

If you receive a suspicious text or audio message from an unknown number, the most important thing is not to reply to or call back.  Instead, check in with your child by calling their “old” phone number. Don’t panic if they don’t answer immediately; talk to other family members and wait to be called back.

Under no circumstances should you transfer money, send a gift card, share a security code, or allow yourself to be pressured into taking any other action.

Last, you should block the scammer so they cannot send you new messages. To do this, Open the WhatsApp chat with the unknown phone number and tap Block. You can also report the contact by tapping Report contact > Block.

How to protect yourself from imposter scams on WhatsApp

Scammers often get phone numbers and other personal details from social media platforms, websites, or data leaked in breaches. The more they learn about you, the better they can tailor the scam to trick you.

For this reason, you should:

  • Limit the personal information you post on social media, and do not share your phone number.
  • Change the privacy settings of your apps / social media so only family and friends can access your contact details.
  • Activate two-factor authentication for online banking or any online accounts where you have saved payment information.

Check any message you receive from an unknown number with Bitdefender Scamio, our AI-powered chatbot created to detect scams. You can add Scamio as a contact in your WhatsApp list and it will work as your personal scam checker.

To do so, scan the QR code below:

or click on Chat with Scamio.

Then, you can describe the scam details and copy and paste texts, links, or QR codes. Scamio will carefully analyze the material you provide and let you know if it looks safe or if there’s any potential security threat.

Scamio is free and also available on your web browser or Facebook Messenger, so share it with your loved ones and keep them safe, too.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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