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Another day, another phone scam: if you receive a text message starting ‘It’s Emma’, do not reply, and block the number.
A new cash-nicking plague is spreading across phones in the UK. A fraudster out there is using a hospital text scam with a bog-standard, innocent name to trick people into forking over money unwittingly.
It’s quite an evil trap: it preys on people’s compassion and concern for a relative needing help, and the number appears to be completely ordinary.
In a Facebook post shared by Hayley Foyle, warning people to ‘think twice’ before replying if they receive a similar text.
The text reads:
Its Emma. I tried to call you but signal bad. I been taken to hospital after having a fall this morning. If possible can you do me a quick favour and text me x.
The kiss at the end really nails it – seems so normal, almost affectionate, it could conceivably be someone you know.
While your gut instinct would no doubt be: ‘Emma who?’, Hayley’s Facebook post – which has been shared more than 76,000 times – warns against it.
I know lots of Emma’s so when this message came through my first instinct was to text back with ‘Emma who?” then it occurred to me that, out of all the Emma’s I know, I wouldn’t think any of them would message me in a crisis (I’d be happy to help an Emma out but I think I’d be pretty far down their list) so I googled and yep it’s a scam.
Texting back apparently cost £20, different names and situations are used (some just say ‘Mum I’ve been in an accident can you text me back’) so if you get a similar text think twice before replying!
70-year-old Catherine Skelhorn, from Huyton, also received the text – but sussed out it was a scam almost immediately.
As per the Liverpool ECHO, Skelhorn said:
The message just stated with a normal text and said ‘Hi this is Emma. I’m in a bit of a mess can you get back to me by clicking this link’.
I have relatives called Emma and it made me think, but when I looked it had no second name on. I knew if it was one of my contact list it would have done.
Also no space bar to type back ‘Emma who?’. I am a pensioner but a streetwise one – so I knew it was a scam right away.
Unfortunately, a similar type of scam was popular back in 2016 – only now, its re-emerging. Action Fraud wrote an article about it, warning that it is ‘designed to play on your emotions’.
The Action Fraud article reads:
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.
The ECHO attempted to call the number, but it went straight to an O2 voicemail – they have since tried to contact the UK mobile carrier.
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