Fake accident text message scam: how to spot it's a scam

A scam preying on parents’ worst fears in order to trick them into sending mobile top-up vouchers is doing the rounds again.

Parents are being targeted with fake messages claiming to be from their injured child in order to trick them into sending funds, Action Fraud is warning.

The sick messages claim that the child has been in a car crash and is in hospital, adding that they have lost their phone and are using someone else’s to get in touch.

When the victim responds to the fake message, the scammer asks them to buy a mobile phone top-up code and send it to them.

Once the code is received, the scammer can credit it to their own account or sell it to someone else.

This distressing scam, which plays on the emotions of the victim, is not new, with a string of similar messages last seen in 2016.

Similar to other scams, the messages are usually filled with bad grammar. This one also uses very emotional language to prompt a swift response.

Fake accident scam message example (Image: Action Fraud)

One example message seen by Action Fraud reads:

“Mum i did try and phone from some else phone signal is really bad, there has been a terrible car accident. I’m in the ICU ward in hospital my phone ain’t switching on and needs charging.

"I’m on this mobile number please make sure you reply to this number, my friend didn’t make it he died before we got to hospital and his sister’s fighting for her life. Mum i had my seatbelt on, i’ve got a head injury but i’m ok.

"Going into Xray to be seen, please make sure you message me back and don’t phone cause mobile phones aren’t allowed here so please text in case I’m in there. I will go outside and phone you mum its really bad i need you to do me favour before it’s too late, as soon as you get my text please reply by text i need you to do me a favour mum, time is running out and i need you to do something mum”.

There are several versions of this scam with victims also being targeted with shorter messages via WhatsApp.

Whatsapp fake message scam example (Image: Action Fraud)

What should I do if I receive a suspicious text?

If you receive one of these texts, do not respond or send any codes or money, delete it and report it to Action Fraud.

While some people may not think they are vulnerable to these types of scams, others can fall for it as their emotions can prompt them to act quickly, particularly if they are more prone to worrying.

It is important to remember if your loved one or family member is in hospital, staff will be able to get in touch with you. They would also never force someone to use a mobile phone that needed credit to activate it.

One of the quickest ways to debunk this scam is to call your loved one or family member directly on their normal number to make sure they are okay.

To report a fraud, you can call Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040 or use the online fraud reporting tool.

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