Victims initially receive a text message from a loved-one which says they are in hospital and that the only way that they can make contact is via text message.
One example message 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”.
After responding to the message, the fraudsters ask victims to purchase a mobile phone top-up code and text it back to them. Once the fraudsters have the code, they can get the cash credited to their own mobile phone account.
There are variations of the scam which include shorter versions of the text messages being spammed out by fraudsters, like the one on the right from a user on Twitter.
These messages can quite easily evolve into more elaborate scenarios and are designed to play on your emotions and get you to react quickly without thinking. If you receive one of these text messages, don’t send any codes or money, delete it and report it to us.
If a family member was hospitalised, they would never be forced to use a mobile phone that required credit to activate it.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.
Action Fraud 27 July 2016