Dire Facebook scam targets children on Messenger Kids app: ‘Beyond disgusting’ – Notice Global Web

A photo of an ipad with a phone call in process and Messenger Kids advertisement.

This photo taken by an Australian mum reveals a terrifying new scam involving children being contacted on Messenger Kids. (Supplied)

An Australian mum has shared a terrifying warning about a new scam targeting children on Facebook’s Messenger Kids app. Kate Farley said she was “freaking out” over an out-of-the-blue video call to her seven-year-old daughter.

The call came through the children’s networking app, which is linked to a parent’s Facebook. She couldn’t tell who was calling as the number was just a long list of digits and letters.

“I had seen warnings about it online,” the New South Wales mum told Yahoo Finance.

“I warned my seven-year-old straight away as she is always on there talking to her friends. I honestly never thought she would get a call from it though.”

Farley’s daughter was in her room when the call came in, but luckily she remembered the warning.

“She started yelling out to me, ‘Mum, Mum, that really long number is calling me’ and I screamed, ‘Don’t answer it’,” she said.

Strangely, the call answered.

“She swore black and blue she never answered it, but when I got to her it had answered and there was just silence and I hung up straight away,” Farley said

Little girl looks at iPad. Little girl looks at iPad.

Messenger Kids boomed in popularity during lockdown as a way for isolated children to keep in contact with friends. (Source: Getty)

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It’s not an isolated incident. Concerned mothers have been warning each other on community Facebook pages about the shady calls, although no one reported having money stolen from their bank accounts.

Another woman said her daughter received a call from a lengthy number and police tracked it to Germany.

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“It sounded like a two-way radio static but you could hear it was a line and they were listening,” she wrote. “I have had notifications overnight … activity of trying to log into our accounts.”

Many were outraged children would be targeted in the “scary” and “beyond disgusting” plot. “There are some sick people out there,” one said.

Farley said she hadn’t reported the matter and so far the only thing she’d noticed was her son had to change his password on Roblox after a data breach.

It is believed that the goal of the scam is to somehow obtain parents’ passwords or details from the children.

When contacted by Yahoo Finance, a NSW Police spokesperson said they are unable to comment on specific instances of people being scammed and urged concerned parents to report the matter.

Lisa Du, director of Ready Tech Go, told Yahoo Finance she was unaware of a phishing scam directly related to Messenger Kids — which is designed for children under 13 — but said there were many going around on Facebook Messenger where scammers impersonate users and set-up look-alike profiles.

“They can steal photos off real profiles, add friends and send phishing scam messages to their victim’s friends,” she said.

She said scams targeting children usually related to gaming where they get scammed for their items.

“It can involve clicking on a file that is sent to them, and then hackers gain access to your account,” Hu said.

“It’s important that kids talk to their parents about any money they’re spending online on games or apps they download. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t go ahead and tell a trusted adult.”

She urged youngsters to ignore calls or emails from unknown numbers and never share sensitive information on any platform.

Hu said adults should have strong passwords, two-factor authentication and up-to-date software, regularly clear their browser history, avoid saving payment details, be suspicious of unsolicited messages or calls and never share passwords or PINs with children.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which runs Scamwatch, said the National Anti-Scam Centre did not comment on individual reports.

“Scammers can learn a lot about you from details you share on your social media accounts,” the spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

The ACCC advises making sure the person is who they say they are by researching profiles, checking how long an account has been active, how many friends or followers they have and their online activity.

The ACCC advised following three simple steps:

  • Stop – don’t rush to act: Scammers will always create a sense of urgency.

  • Check – ask yourself, could this message or call be fake? Do you really know who you are communicating with?

  • Report: Act quickly if something feels wrong and help others by reporting it to Scamwatch.

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Dire Facebook scam targets children on Messenger Kids app: ‘Beyond disgusting’ – Notice Global Web

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