Warning to phone users over 'nasty' WhatsApp scam

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Phone users have been warned about a ‘nasty’ WhatsApp scam used by hackers to take control of accounts and access messages.

Consumer magazine Which? says the scam isn’t new, but that the fraud and cyber crime reporting agency, Action Fraud, has reported a recent surge in the crime.

Unexpected but genuine text messages from WhatsApp containing a verification code are sent, usually when users log into the app for the first time, or have been logged out, or are trying to log into the message sharing app from a new device.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But to work the scam, fraudsters are entering numbers into WhatsApp themselves to try to get access accounts, triggering the verification code text.

A warning has been issued to phone users over a WhatsApp scam.A warning has been issued to phone users over a WhatsApp scam.
A warning has been issued to phone users over a WhatsApp scam.

Next, a WhatsApp contact sends a message, usually trying to acquire the verification code users have just received, perhaps claiming to have “accidentally entered your number by mistake” for example.

The message appears to be from a friend, so people are fooled into sharing their verification codes, meaning fraudsters can take over their account. Scammers are then understood to identify victims’ closest contacts from their message history, and request cash or personal information.

They can also then find out personal details about you and your contacts from your messages. Potentially this can be used to access other accounts, lead to more scams or even blackmail.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Scammers are likely to carry out the same trick with verification codes with the new set of contacts they’ve unlocked, gaining access to more and more accounts.

Which? advises WhatsApp users not to share login details or verification code with anybody: even family and friends. The magazine also advises:

:: Setting up two-step verification to secure your account.

:: Reporting spam messages or blocking the sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select “Report” and then follow the instructions.

Read More
Warning over People’s Postcode Lottery scam letters

:: Being wary of WhatsApp messages requesting money, even if they come from your contacts. Anyone unsure should give the friend a quick call to check.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If you think you may have given sensitive details to fraudsters, inform your bank immediately. WhatsApp users who have lost access to their accounts can contact [email protected]. Victims of fraud or cyber crime should visit www.actionfraud.police.uk, or call 0300 123 2040.