In Germany, residents are being hit with the “Hallo mama” scam.
Here’s how the scam works. The mobile phone user receives an SMS message like this:
“Hallo mama. My phone no longer works because of an accident. This is my new phone number. Please send me a message on WhatsApp. +49 162 6667.”
There are a few variations of the scam — such as “my phone fell in the toilet” or “my SIM no longer works” — but it ends the same: with a request to follow up on WhatsApp. If recipients fall for it and reply on WhatsApp, they’ll be communicating directly with the scammer, who is sure to ask for money.
According to the consumer advice center Verbraucherzentrale, this scam is common in Germany. It notes that police in the Viersen district (North Rhine-Westphalia) issued a warning about the scam on their Facebook page earlier this year, yet criminals were still scamming people out of more than 20,000 euros in a single week.
Verbraucherzentrale told the story of a woman from Saxony who received the “Hallo mama” message and added the new number to her phone, as her daughter had replaced her phone several times before. After messaging back and forth, the phony daughter explained that because of the new smartphone, she could not access her banking data and she needed 1,100 euros to make an important transfer. The woman became suspicious only when the daughter gave a foreign recipient name, so she called her real daughter’s old phone number and finally discovered it was a scam.
What Hiya users are reporting
Hiya received hundreds of reports of this scam last quarter, according to the Q3 Global Call Threat Report, which reveals spam rates in 39 countries worldwide and details the most common scam calls in select countries. The report shows that scams from fraudsters pretending to be family members are popular worldwide. In fact, loved ones scams ranked among the top scams in the US, Spain, and Brazil in Q3.
Hiya is able to quantify these scams via user reports, where consumers using Hiya Protect through their device manufacturer or the Hiya mobile app can report spam calls and leave a comment describing the call.
The Hallo mama scam was one of the most reported scams in Germany in Q3.
Germany’s spam rate is slightly higher than the European average
The Global Call Threat Report has additional information about spam calls in Germany. For example, the report revealed that Germany has a 22% spam rate, meaning that on average 22% of unidentified calls coming from someone not in the individual’s address book are unwanted calls. Of the 20 countries Hiya tracks in Europe, Germany ranks eighth for its spam rate, a little higher than the European average.
The good news is that Germans receive, on average, only two spam calls per person per month. That compares with nine spam calls per person per month in France and 10 calls per month in Spain.
Germany had a 22.46% spam rate in Q3.
The Global Call Threat Report breaks down spam and fraud rates by region, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific. The report lists the most common scam calls in the US, the UK, Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Brazil.
You can download the report by clicking below.