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What are they
A WhatsApp family and friends impersonation scam occurs when a criminal sends you a message pretending to be your friend or family member. The message will have a generic opening such as "Hello Mum" or "Hi Dad". They'll claim that they've got a new phone- often because they’ve lost their phone- or their phone is damaged and that’s why they're messaging from a different number. They'll then claim that they urgently need money to pay for a new phone, to pay a bill, or buy other items.
What to look out for
A message out of the blue from a number that you don’t recognise saying they’re a family member or friend.
The message will be very generic. They'll use "Hello Mum" to avoid using your name. Normally, there's no clear information in the message- something that only you and the real person would know, like a nickname.
They'll always ask you to send them money.
They will need money urgently and they will try and rush you to send money quickly.
If you try to call them there’ll usually be an excuse for why they can’t speak to you at that moment, or if you do speak the line could be bad to hide their voice.
How to protect yourself
If you think you've received a WhatsApp impersonation message, don’t send any money. Call a trusted number (not the new one you’ve just been given) that you have saved for your friend or family member so you can make sure they’ve sent you a message asking for money.
You can report scam messages within WhatsApp. Long press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’, and then follow the instructions.
If you're unsure whether a friend or family member is actually messaging you, you can always refuse, reject, block, or ignore the messages.
What to do if you get caught out
If you think you’ve been targeted by criminals, report it. Call the bank using the number on the back of your card, or from the numbers on our website. You can also dial 159 to be connected securely to your bank.
Forward any suspicious texts referring to Royal Bank of Scotland to the number 88355
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