A grandfather was left £24,000 out of pocket after a scammer pretended to be his son on WhatsApp.
Nigel Gammon, from Adelaide in Australia, regularly uses the encrypted messaging service to stay in contact with his son Jock, who lives in another country.
Two weeks ago Nigel received a message from an unfamiliar number claiming to be Jock, 9news reports.
The message looked and sounded legitimate but was a phishing scam that targets parents with adult children.
“Hi dad. My other phone crashed, but this is my temporary number…” the message read, according to 9news.
“I have a payment that must be paid today. Can you send me a picture from the front and back of your credit card…”
However, after replying the 77-year-old was shocked to later learn that his son had not sent the original message.
“Anyone that gets a message from their son would feel the same way if you can help you do it,” Nigel said.
“I’m very upset about the whole incident, I think my son particularly feels guilty.
“It was one o’clock in the morning over there and I just didn’t want to ring him up, which I should have.”
Police have warned that the “fairly simple” scam is regularly reported, with the criminals behind it using emojis to help establish a rapport with the victim.
It is thought that the fraudsters garner information from social media in order to make the messages seem as genuine as possible.
They then pull on the victims’ heartstrings and even maintain the deception after they have received the financial information they require.
“The worst part was when they closed it off they put a heart as a closure,” Nigel said.
In the UK, Government advice is to contact Action Fraud if you have been the victim of a scam in England or Wales, or the police in Scotland.
Suspected email scams can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, while text scams can be forwarded to 7726 free of charge.
Information on gov.uk states: “Do not give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine.
“Contact Action Fraud if you think you’ve lost money or been hacked because of an online scam or fraud and you’re in England or Wales.
“If you’re in Scotland and you’ve lost money because of an online scam or fraud, report the crime to Police Scotland.”