Tuesday, September 27

The nasty WhatsApp scam is back! Police issue urgent warning to millions

WhatsApp users need to be on alert for a malicious attack that could cost victims thousands of pounds. This week, police again warned WhatsApp users about notorious ‘Friend In Need’ scams. As the name suggests, this type of WhatsApp threat starts with someone receiving a message from an unknown contact claiming to be a loved one or friend.

Scammers pretend to be different, but the recent alert from Hertfordshire Police specifically mentions scams where scammers pretend to be someone’s son or daughter.

The fake message will start with “Hello Mom” ​​or “Hello Dad” and explain that they are texting from a different number than usual because their phone was lost or damaged.

Depending on the scammer, an exchange can take place where the cyber scammer enters a dialogue and tries to say things that convince a WhatsApp user that they are really being contacted by a relative.

But before long, they’ll say they need the money for some sort of emergency – whether it’s to help get a new phone or pay a bill that needs to be paid urgently.

Bank details are then provided and a WhatsApp user is asked to send funds to that account – after which, if the money goes through, it may become clear from the way the conversation progresses that they have been duped.

This week, the public was again alerted to the threat by police in an email message.

In the message, Derrick Sweeney, Hertfordshire Police Liaison Officer, said: “We are again warning residents to be wary of WhatsApp messages which appear to be from relatives asking for money to be sent to them.

“Our Victim Fraud Case Manager alerted us to 28 reports in August where local residents lost money after being targeted on WhatsApp by criminals claiming to be someone they know – usually their son or their daughter.”

Advising people on how to protect themselves from these scams, police say…

STOP. THINK. CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person to confirm their identity

Never share the activation code of your WhatsApp account (this is the six-digit code you receive by SMS)

These types of WhatsApp scams have been used by cyber crooks for a long time and are known to cost victims thousands of pounds with each attack.

Earlier this year, Express.co.uk reported how football commentator Jacqui Oatley was warning WhatsApp users about such scams after her mother nearly suffered an attack demanding £2,000.

While in another scam reported by Express.co.uk, a father nearly lost £1,000 after receiving a message from someone posing as his son on WhatsApp.

City of London Police said towards the end of July that in 2022 alone, £1.5million had been stolen by crooks through so-called ‘Friend In Need’ WhatsApp scams.

In a BBC interview, Oatley over the summer explained how she had heard of many other people on Twitter who had fallen victim to such scams after posting that her mother was being targeted via WhatsApp.

The famous football commentator said: “I spoke to someone yesterday whose friend actually paid £6,000 in a virtually identical scam and it was because they found access to their messages real WhatsApp so they can find the references to the names of their family members.”

If you have been targeted by a WhatsApp scam, or any other type of hoax and attempted fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.