A fraudster attempted to steal thousands of pounds from an Irvine woman after pretending to be her son on WhatsApp.

The 63-year-old received a series of messages on the platform from an account that she thought belonged to her son, who claimed to be going through an emergency and needed the cash.

Instead, it was a fake persona belonging to the criminal.

Using her son's identity, the scammer then asked for nearly £2,500 to be paid into a bank account to help with the 'emergency'

This comes after a new awareness campaign was launched last week that warned that text or WhatsApp messages from a “friend in need” asking for money or personal information could be a scammer.

More than half (59 per cent) of people have received a message-based scam in the last year or know someone who has, according to a new awareness drive launched by WhatsApp in partnership with National Trading Standards.

The “Stop. Think. Call.” campaign aims to help educate people on how to protect themselves and their WhatsApp account from message-based scams.

Message-based scams could include text messages as well as those received on WhatsApp.

The messages are sent from the compromised accounts of your friends, so they look as if they’re coming from someone you know, or from an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been 'locked out' of their account.

Irvine Police are now investigating the attempted fraud and have warned people to be vigilant of these types of online scams that see cybercriminals pose as family members to steal your money.

A spokesperson from Police Scotland said: "We're investigating an attempted fraud where a 63yr old Irvine woman received WhatsApp messages purporting to be from her son requesting nearly £2500 be paid into an account due to an 'emergency'.

If you receive similarly, please TAKE 5 & check to make sure they are genuine.

"Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money."