A new guide to help protect older people against web fraud has revealed the growing sophistication of WhatsApp scams.

The 28-page document put together by Cyber & Fraud Centre – Scotland shows how criminals are using the social media app to impersonate friends and family.

The messages typically start with a generic ‘Hi Gran’, or ‘Hello dad’ from unrecognised numbers – followed by an urgent request for money. Scammers attempt to convince the victims that they are using a different number because they’ve changed mobile provider or that their bank account has been blocked due to linking it to their phone ‘too many times’.

The guide contains sections including for telephone scams, bank scams, parcel delivery scams, investment and pension scams, cryptocurrency scams and identity theft – as well as a series of useful numbers to contact for advice and support.

Incidences of scam and fraud crime against older people in Scotland are rising, as scammers take advantage of their relative unfamiliarity with technology and their potential to be more vulnerable to deception.

Available on and offline, A Guide to Avoiding Fraud and Scams for Older People addresses some of the most common forms of cyber and fraud crime and will be distributed through local community networks and during CyberScotland Week in February, ensuring that as many people have access as possible. 

Jude McCorry, CEO of Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland, said: “We have witnessed a huge increase in reports of scams affecting older people. We know that we cannot rely on digital channels like social media to reach our older residents, so we are asking people to share our guide, have a conversation with older friends, family and neighbours around the risks and to work with local groups to empower our communities to be as vigilant as possible against fraud and scam attempts.  

Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland works in partnership with organisations including Police Scotland, Lloyds, Metro Bank and Barclays to make sure the right support is offered at the right time, and we hope this guide will bring some reassurance to friends and families across the country that their loved ones are safe and secure in the digital world.” 

Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland urges readers to remember that:  

  •  Your bank would never ask you to rush a payment through 
  •  Banks and other financial regulatory organisations would never ask you to invest in gold or other investments 
  •  Delivery companies will never ask for copies of your passport or driver’s license 
  • You should consider discussing investment opportunities with people you trust – do not rush into anything 
  • Your bank’s number calling your phone may not really be your bank- scammers can impersonate these numbers 
  • You should make sure you have your bank’s fraud department number saved in your phone to verify any calls you may get 
  • If something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is