Warning issued to WhatsApp users who could be targeted by fraudsters

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Fraud experts have issued a warning to WhatsApp users who could be targeted by money-hungry criminals.

The fraudsters are targeting members of group chats, according to the team at Action Fraud, which revealed it has received more than 636 reports from victims on the messaging app this year.

The fraud usually begins when a member of the group receives a WhatsApp call from a fraudster pretending to be a legitimate member of the group. Often the scammer will use a fake profile picture or display name, and the call is used to generate trust.

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Then, the scammer tells the victim they will send them a one-time passcode which will allow them to join an upcoming video call for group members, asking the victim to share this code so they can be ‘registered’ for the call. In reality, they are asking for a registration code which will allow them to register the victim’s account to a new device, allowing them to take over and use it.

Sussex Police.Sussex Police.
Sussex Police.

Once this happens, the fraudster will enable two-factor authentication and make it impossible for the victim to get back into their own account. Using the account, the scammer can contact friends and family asking for money, claiming to be in desperate need of help.

Experts at Action Fraud advise WhatsApp users to enable two factor authentication for themselves, call family or friends outside of WhatsApp who appear to make an unusual request to verify it is actually them, and report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp itself if you suspect them of being a scammer.