I lost £840 to the ‘Mum and Dad’ WhatsApp scam – why isn’t First Direct refunding my bank?

I recently lost £840 after falling victim to a WhatsApp scam through my phone. My bank, First Direct, cleared the incident. Please can you help?

Sally Hamilton answers: They detailed that they received a WhatsApp message on their phone that said, “Hey dad thought I’d let you know phones (sic) are broken so I’m using that in the meantime.”

This is the so-called “Mum and Dad” scam. The scam was widely reported and addicted to many victims.

Unfortunately, you had never heard of this sneaky trick before – and I’m adding your experience to remind everyone of this nasty scam that affects the good nature of concerned parents.

The Mum and Dad scam has been widely reported and hooked many victims

The Mum and Dad scam has been widely reported and hooked many victims

In short, parents are tricked by scammers into sending money to help their offspring buy a new phone or other important purchases.

You said you fell for it because it wasn’t the first time one of your kids had asked you for help with a phone problem. You told me you couldn’t count the number of screens, batteries, connectors and other items you’ve replaced over the years.

Unaware that you were being duped, you had a WhatsApp conversation with your son’s scammer about repair options and insurance coverage.

The scammer provided a convincing explanation that the original phone was so damaged that it could not be used for any type of communication – including, surprise, surprise, getting into his own bank account.

The conversation went so far that a “good friend” was able to provide a replacement cell phone.

At this point you have agreed to transfer money to pay for the device until your son can access his own bank account and then refund you.

It wasn’t until the conversation turned to another “opportunity” – buying a cheap laptop – that alarm bells rang loudly, eventually waking you up to what had just happened. They quickly managed to reach the son in question on his usual number and made sure everything was fine with his cell phone.


You told me you called your bank and Action Fraud immediately but said no one was able or willing to do anything quickly.

You were told to expect a response – from your bank and the police – in a few weeks, but you knew by that point the scammer would be long gone.

First Direct eventually wrote to you to confirm that you were the victim of an “authorized push payment scam”.

Big banks signed a code to pay back innocent victims of such scams and you hoped your bank would pay you back.

But First Direct, after investigating, concluded that both they and the receiving bank had adequate fraud prevention measures in place and blamed them for not performing enough checks before transferring the money.

So there was no refund.

The scammers were persuasive in dealing with you and there was no reason for you to suspect it was a scammer, so I asked First Direct to reconsider their response.

A few days later, the bank agreed to refund you in full.

A First Direct spokesman said: “We have fully investigated the case and will take this opportunity to issue a refund of £840 as a goodwill gesture.”

This scourge of WhatsApp fraud is not going away. In fact, I recently received a similar message myself about a broken phone.

Since my kids use nicknames for their dad and I, I knew right away that the request wasn’t genuine.

The spelling mistakes in the text have also raised a red flag. As a journalist, it is very important to me that my children have good spelling.

To the point

In November I played a Wheel of Fortune game through my energy supplier Octopus and won the top prize of £512 which would be deducted from my next bill.

I was told I would receive an email confirming my win but it never arrived. Octopus won’t pay me the money as it says I have no proof I won.

NS, via email.

Octopus claims you are not entitled to a prize when you spin the wheel of fortune but has agreed to credit your account with £512 as an apology for the confusion you experienced.

My daughter bought two kits from My Heritage DNA in February but was unknowingly signed up for a subscription and ended up with £114. That’s a lot of money to lose.

CJ, via email.

According to My Heritage DNA, your daughter opted for a free trial when she bought the kits and did not cancel before the expiration date. She has now been offered a full refund.

I ordered a dashboard camera from Wowcher on January 14th and received an email with a code.

I couldn’t figure out what to do with this code so I canceled my order on January 20th. Since then I have not been able to ask for a refund.

BE, via email.

Wowcher have now contacted you to refund the £19.99 and sent you a free dashboard camera as a goodwill gesture.

Why doesn’t Aviva pay out?

I am 32 and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

I have life and critical illness insurance with Aviva but it won’t pay out because it says I was at high risk of developing breast cancer. During my treatment I was tested to see if any of seven different genes were responsible. But all genetic tests were negative.

Sally Hamilton answers: To have been diagnosed with this terrible disease at such a young age must be devastating.

Although money won’t eliminate your health worries, you were hoping your £77,600 Aviva insurance policy could help alleviate some of the financial concerns that inevitably arise after a cancer diagnosis.

I have contacted the insurer to find out why they denied your claim and to see if there is anything they can do to settle it. It looked at your case again, but I’m afraid the result was the same.

Aviva couldn't live up to our reader's claim as breast cancer was specifically excluded from her £20-a-month policy when she took it out

Aviva couldn’t live up to our reader’s claim as breast cancer was specifically excluded from her £20-a-month policy when she took it out

It can’t meet your entitlement as breast cancer was specifically excluded from your £20 a month policy when you took it out. This was due to a history of the disease in your close family.

Even if you later found out that your condition has no genetic cause, I’m sorry to say that it makes little difference in your case.

Not only the fact that an insurance policy cannot be changed retrospectively, but also the prevalence of the condition among your loved ones most likely influenced the initial decision not to provide insurance coverage.

This medical history meant that you had to be checked more often to determine whether or not genes were responsible for developing the disease.

Alan Lakey, founder of protection insurance analyst CIExpert, says: “I’m afraid the genetic test wouldn’t have helped. Statistics clearly show that a family history of breast cancer is indicative of a higher likelihood of a future claim.

“It is based on several factors: age at diagnosis and the number of close relatives — siblings and mother — who have been previously diagnosed.

“Partly it also depends on the age of the applicant. The older the claimant, the less likely a future claim will be, as the prime age for diagnosis is between 45 and 55.’

A spokesman for Aviva said: “While we sympathize with the customer, the terms offered included an explicit exclusion for breast cancer when she applied for the policy through her independent advisor.

“This was because the customer revealed a strong family history of breast cancer, which required her to undergo expanded NHS screening.

“The exclusion was clearly documented on the offer of acceptance to the customer and her advisor, which she accepted with the policy from March 2021.”

I am very sorry that you are in this terrible situation. However, you did the right thing by reporting the cases of breast cancer in your close family.

If an insurer determines at the time a claim is made that a policyholder has knowingly withheld important information, it is likely to refuse a payout.

Finding health insurance for people with a strong family history of breast cancer can be difficult, especially if the relatives were diagnosed at a young age and the applicant is also young.

A financial adviser with access to the entire market may be able to help arrange cover, although if successful this will inevitably result in a higher premium.

The most important thing for you now is that your treatment is going well, which you say is going well. I wish you all the best for the future.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk – include phone number, address and a note to the defaulting organisation , giving her permission to speak to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send any original documents as we cannot accept any responsibility for them. The Daily Mail cannot accept legal responsibility for any replies given.

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