Nurse loses thousands after WhatsApp scammer pretends to be her son

Nurse, 53, loses thousands after ‘very convincing’ WhatsApp scammer pretending to be her son says he’d dropped his phone down the toilet and needed to borrow money

  • Toni Parker, 53, lost £2,450 to a scammer claiming they were her son in the RAF
  • The conversations started on July 9 when she had a Whatsapp saying ‘hi mum’
  • Conman pretending to be son claimed he had dropped phone down the toilet
  • This explained new number and inability to access his mobile banking accounts 
  • The nurse from Wolverhampton, West Mids, felt sick when she realised the scam 

A nurse has lost thousands of pounds after a cruel scammer pretended to be her son serving in the Royal Air Force in a series of WhatsApp messages.

Toni Parker lost £2,450 – money she had been saving for a new boiler – to the anonymous conman. 

The mum of four from Wolverhampton, West Mids, was first targeted on July 9, when she received a WhatsApp message that read ‘Hi mum’.

Married Toni was led to believe she was talking to her eldest child and the alleged con artist fooled her by saying they had a new number because her son had dropped his phone down the toilet.

The 53-year-old explained: ‘The first message came at 8.20am and I was excitedly packing for our long awaited trip to Cornwall. 

Toni Parker, 53, lost £2,450 to a scammer who claimed they were her son, who was serving in the RAF – money she was saving to buy a new boiler

The messages started with a ‘hi mum’ on July 9, and the scammer claimed the son had dropped their phone down the toilet – explaining the different number and inability to access mobile banking apps

‘It was general chit chat at first, but then the messages went on to say they needed to borrow money and had no access to their account.

‘I asked what it was for and I even asked why I couldn’t send it to him directly and he said he had no internet banking because of his broken phone. They were very convincing.

‘I love my kids and if they text me in need I will help them, who wouldn’t help their own children?

Toni is a nurse from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands and says in her line of work she would not hesitate to help someone when they are in trouble

‘These scammers know this and I think they are purposely targeting mothers because it is our natural instinct to help.’

Toni added: ‘The messages were very believable and these scammers are using an emotional connection to catch you off your guard.’

Toni sent the money and it wasn’t until she and her husband Doug were travelling to Cornwall later that morning, that Toni told their younger son about the messages and the 17-year-old quickly became concerned it was a scam.

When Toni checked, the WhatsApp messages had disappeared and she immediately called her bank.

Toni says she has banked with Halifax for 26 years but said she was angry and frustrated by the bank’s lack of help and empathy.

She said: ‘I feel really let down by their response.

‘The bank account I paid in to was emptied within minutes so they can’t reverse the payment – or trace it.

‘These scammers are very clever but I am angry the banks allow people to get away with this, opening and closing accounts so easily that they can’t be traced.’

Toni claims Halifax told her that not all digital transactions are checked and if Halifax were to stop transactions to this US based company, the bank would suffer financially.

 Toni hopes by speaking out she will save someone else the heart ache of being conned

She added: ‘When I spoke to my bank they told me I should have been more careful. They told me I should have known it was a scam and they declined my refund.

‘I do feel stupid but due to his job, my son is hard to contact so the messages didn’t seem that odd.

‘The bank asked why I didn’t call my son to check, but you can’t just call people in the RAF whenever you feel like it.’

The nurse added: ‘In my line of work, I don’t refuse to help people who have hurt themselves, I wouldn’t call them stupid or tell them they should have been more careful.’

The couple decided to continue on their holiday but the impact of the scam loomed over them.

Toni said: ‘I was in bits, I felt sick to my stomach but our holiday was paid for and we would have lost that money too, so we decided to carry on.

‘We had to be thrifty with our spending money as there was absolutely nothing we could do about our lost cash.’

She added: ‘I know we have lost the money and it makes me feel very upset but by talking about it I have realised how common these scams are now.’

Toni posted online to warn others and was shocked when a couple just streets away from their home contacted her to say they had fallen victim to the same scam.

Toni said: ‘It may not be a lot of money to some people, but it is to us. I have worked so hard, especially during the pandemic and we were saving for a new boiler and someone stole our savings in less than 10 minutes and got away with it so easily.’

Toni has banked with Halifax for 26 years but said she was angry and frustrated by the bank’s lack of help and empathy when they refused to refund the money lost to the scammers

Toni hopes by speaking out she will save someone else the heart ache of being conned.

She said: ‘It has been such a distressing time for us all and I want to share our horrible experience to stop it happening to other people.

‘It is an international scam and the banks are aware of it and I think they need to do more to protect their customers.’

She warned: ‘If anyone you know sends you a message and tells you it is their new number, ask them to tell you something they would know. Be sure you know who you are talking to because it could cost you thousands.’

A spokesperson for Halifax said: ‘Helping keep our customers’ money safe is our priority and we have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Parker as the victim of a scam. 

‘We fully investigate each individual case and unfortunately she did not take any steps to verify that the message she received from a number she didn’t recognise was genuine. 

‘She went on to authorise the payments despite receiving a “Confirmation of Payee” warning that the account details provided did not match.

‘It’s crucial for people to remember that fraudsters can easily pretend to be someone else to trick people into sending cash from their bank accounts.

‘Treat any cold calls and messages with caution and take care when making payments, especially when Confirmation of Payee checks say that details don’t match.’

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