Hi mum, it’s a scam

  • Scams

Use your head and not your heart. That’s the message from Canberra grandmother Mary as she reflects on falling for a “Hi Mum” text message scam.

  • 19.06.2023
  • Time to read 1 min read


Like millions of other Australians, earlier this year Canberra grandmother Mary* received a text message from criminals trying to scam her.

“I got a text that I thought was from my daughter, saying she dropped her phone down the toilet and needed a bill to be paid, and I should have rung her to make sure,” Mary told Dale Ernesti from NAB’s fraud team.

Mary transferred $1970.53 straight away.

She later realised it was a scam and spoke to Dale about how it had happened.

Listen to Mary’s call to NAB below…

The story behind the scam

Dale Ernesti, wearing a suit, casual shirt and glasses, at a standing desk.
Dale Ernesti

Mary told Dale she had three daughters and asked the scammers which daughter was texting her.

“They didn’t come back, and I sent a silly thing and said, ‘Is this you?’ and, of course, they grabbed on to that,” Mary said.

Dale told Mary that scammers often looked for “breadcrumbs and latch on to it.”

Mary said the penny dropped when she sent her daughter an email to confirm the transfer.

“She rang me later in the afternoon and I said, ‘Ah you’ve got your phone fixed’,” Mary recalled.

“When she said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said straight away, ‘I’ve got to hang up. I’ve been scammed.’ and I rang NAB.

One of the lucky ones

Mary knows she is one of the lucky ones – she got her money back.

While NAB makes every effort to retrieve funds sent to scammers, it can often be very difficult due to the speed stolen money is moved and often turned into cryptocurrency.

“A few days later I saw the money in my account and thought, `My gosh I’d written that off’. I really feel so very grateful,” she said.


AFL player Jacob Weitering shares his scams experience with NAB CEO Ross McEwan and colleagues at the bank.

Mary said she never answered unexpected calls on her mobile phone or replied to emails requesting payment or promoting insurance “offers” and urged others to do the same.

“This really hit a chord because I felt it was my daughter crying out for help,” she said.

“You can’t use your heart; you’ve got to use your head. Even if someone in your family is calling out for help, you’ve really got to pause, question and investigate before you make that payment.”

Mary isn’t alone. Hundreds of thousands of Australians are scammed every year, robbing millions from hard-working people of all ages.

Mary’s story follows admissions from hundreds of victims, including high-profile footballer Jacob Weitering who told NAB how he fell for a scam text message that claimed to be from NAB, notifying him of ‘suspicious transactions’.

Think before you click. Pause before you pay.

Man in suit, smiling
Chris Sheehan, NAB Executive, Group Investigations and Fraud

NAB Executive Group Investigations and Fraud, Chris Sheehan, said Mary’s story was powerful listening.

“This is a unique chance for people to listen to that critical moment when someone rings their bank to say they’ve been scammed and hear what happens next,” Mr Sheehan said.

“As Dale explains in the call with Mary, never feel pressured to make a payment.

“We want people to know how to see through a scam, ask questions and be curious if they get messages from people they know, high-profile businesses or government agencies asking for money.

NAB’s ‘See Through Scams’ campaign urges Australians to ‘Think before you click’ and ‘Pause before you pay’.

Mr Sheehan said the “Hi Mum” scam had continued to evolve after shooting to prominence almost a year ago.

“If someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative or friend contacts you, contact the person on their usual mobile number or email to confirm the request before you send any money,” the former Australian Federal Policy executive said.

See through scams

Australians lost an estimated $7.3 million alone to the ‘Hi Mum’ scam in 2022.

To help prevent more people from being caught out, NAB has today launched a new video, educating the public on how to see through it.

This is part of the bank’s See Through Scams campaign, which includes sharing stories like Mary’s and AFL Footballer Jacob Weitering to help educate more Australians on how they can stay safe.

Watch the latest instalment of See Through Scams below…

More to do

Dale Ernesti in a casual shirt, working from home
Dale Ernesti

NAB has 60 initiatives either underway or complete to help address scams and to help customers to bank safely.

This year, the bank has introduced a number of new measures including working with telcos to prevent spoofing scam texts and calls appearing to be from NAB, as well as real-time and personalised payments prompts to help customers identify potential scams when they’re transferring money.

“More broadly, NAB is working with the Federal Government, banking, telecommunications, online and social media industries, consumer groups and regulators in a Team Australia approach to the problem,” Mr Sheehan said.

But we can, and will, do more. Every one of us must learn how to protect ourselves.

“Contact your bank immediately if you’ve been scammed.”

NAB offers free online security webinars for customers and the community. Visit nab.com.au/security and sign-up today.

*Mary is not the customer’s real name.

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