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My child or friend is in need and urgently requires money

Beware of aid fraud. How to recognise and avoid becoming a victim?

This form of fraud is constantly circulating and is claiming many victims. You receive a message from a child or an acquaintance who needs to make an urgent payment, but is unable to do so himself. He or she asks you to help and promises to pay you back quickly.  By nature we all want to help our children and friends, so many people pay without thinking twice.

This type of scam is called help request fraud or WhatsApp fraud because the fake messages are often sent via WhatsApp, but the request can also come via email or Facebook.

How do you recognise help-seeking fraud?

In help wanted fraud, the scammer pretends to be your son or daughter, or your friend. Your child or friend contacts you with an unknown number. The gist of the message is always that he or she needs money or has to make an urgent payment. The so-called acquaintance also has a new mobile number, because the old mobile phone is no longer usable.

Often there is a short conversation (Hi mum, how are you?) and the profile picture is 'real' of your child or friend. The scammer uses a light-hearted tone to gain your trust. If you call the number, you will only hear an unrecognisable voice and afterwards you will receive a message saying that the person cannot call now.

The messages always contain a message with a certain degree of urgency and ask you to do something in the form of transferring money or clicking on a link that leads you to an online payment where your bank details can be stolen. As soon as you receive such a request for help from someone who does not usually ask for help in this way, you should be extra alert.

How can you avoid becoming a victim of help-request fraud?
  • Never pay based on a request you received through a message.
  • Try to speak to your son, daughter or acquaintance first or to reach them via another channel (landline, e-mail, the 'old' mobile phone number). Then it will soon be clear that the question does not come from your loved one.
  • Never transfer money until you have spoken to your child or friend yourself.
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