A new phone scam has arrived in France, where SMS messages are sent purporting to be from a family member. The message says that their phone has broken and they have a new number to register.
It includes a phone number with a link, and then an invitation to add the number and send it a message via the common messaging app WhatsApp.
Then, the sender asks for a sum of money urgently to help them replace their ‘broken’ phone. Some even promise to pay back immediately once they can get back into their banking phone app.
The message is typically addressed to ‘maman/papa’, and may appear very credible to parents, especially those with teenagers. Older people are most often targeted by the messages.
Vous recevez un message d'un proche qui vous dit qu'il a cassé son téléphone et qu'il faut l'appeler sur un autre numéro en urgence ? C'est l'arnaque de "l'urgence familiale" très en vogue chez les anglophones et qui arrive en France ⏬ #SMS #alerte #arnaque pic.twitter.com/yrmLk9zNiE— Signal-Arnaques (@SignalArnaques) December 9, 2022
The texts have been identified as a scam by the Signal-Arnaques service in France.
They are very similar to a scam seen more commonly in English-speaking countries, including Australia, where the messages start with a simple ‘Hi mum’.
Signal-Arnaques advises: “In case you receive a message like this, stay calm and call the person on the number they’re claiming to have ‘lost’. If they don’t reply, try to contact someone they might be with. This will generally be enough to assuage any doubts.”
In France, recipients of suspected scam messages can forward the text message (preferably without adding any comments) to the number 33700, or report it online here.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, you can also receive free support and advice from the France Victimes association, which is available on the number 116 006 from within France.