Nigel Gammon responded to a WhatsApp message pretending to be from his son who lives abroad and used a temporary number asking him to send his credit card information.
A grandfather was paid £24,000 out of his own pocket after a scammer impersonated his son on WhatsApp.
Nigel Gammon, from Adelaide, Australia, regularly uses the encrypted messaging service to keep in touch with his son Jock, who lives in another country.
Two weeks ago, Nigel received a message from an unknown number claiming to be Jock, 9news reports.
The message looked and sounded legit, but it was a phishing scam targeting parents with grown children.
“Hi Dad. My other phone crashed, but this is my temporary number…”, the message read according to 9news.
“I have a payment due today. Can you send me a picture of the front and back of your credit card…”
After his reply, however, the 77-year-old was shocked to learn that his son had not sent the original message.
“Anyone who gets a message from their son would feel the same if you could help with that,” Nigel said.
“I’m very upset about the whole incident, I think my son feels mostly guilty.
“It was one in the morning there and I just didn’t want to call him, which I should have.”
Police have warned that the “fairly simple” scam is regularly reported, with the criminals behind it using emojis to establish rapport with the victim.
It is believed that the fraudsters collect information from social media to make the messages appear as real as possible.
They then tug at the hearts of the victims and even perpetuate the deception after getting the financial information they need.
“The worst part was that when they closed it, they did a heart as a seal,” Nigel said.
In the UK, the government’s 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 SMS 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), do not reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails if you are not sure they are genuine.
“If you believe you have lost money or been hacked due to an online scam or fraud and you are located in England or Wales, please contact Action Fraud.
“If you are in Scotland and have lost money due to an online scam or fraud, please report the crime to Police Scotland.”