A lot of people have been asking to know how scammers use WhatsApp to scam people in this age and time. It might sometimes be a difficult question to ask as it is becoming overwhelmingly unbearable and has become a shameful and disastrous experience to those who have fallen victims.
With the advent and glory of the internet everywhere, scammers are gathering up like firewood and increasing in strength by the day, even worst is it to realize that they are growing by the second and there is categorically any government or people can do about it, except to take caution.
How Scammers Use WhatsApp to Scam People
In order to reply to the question, how scammers use WhatsApp to scam people, we have collected several steps and schemes which they could employ to take innocent people in and cart away their hard-earned income or savings in broad daylight just because of the mistake of having a phone and using the internet!
Using Several Gimmicks and Ways to Outsmart them:
Scammers use different means and plots to get their victims to play into their hands. Some of these commonly used stunts are listed below.
Mom and Dad Impersonation Schemes
The mom and Dad scam is a classic social engineering attack that’s extremely easy to orchestrate. It involves fraudsters impersonating a victim’s child and asking for money. Unsuspecting parents are deceived into transferring funds into a scammer’s bank account.
- The target receives a WhatsApp message from an unknown number claiming to be from their child.
- The scammer narrates a convincing tale about a lost or broken phone so as to justify this new number. In other variations of this story, the scammer may claim to have been locked out of their mobile banking app.
- Further, the scammer insists they urgently need money and then sends over bank details for a transfer.
- Once the victim sends the money, the scammer disappears.
Verify your child’s supposed new number. Send a text message or make a phone call to confirm whether they’ve actually lost access to their phone. Also, verbally confirm any bank account details before you initiate a fund transfer.
Read Also: Why Scammers Do Not Video Call on WhatsApp
Friend or Loved One in Need requests
In this scam, fraudsters pose as friends or loved ones of the victim and claim to be in need of immediate help. But what they really want is your six-digit WhatsApp verification code, personal information, or money.
Scammers typically use one of two methods to pull off this scam: (1) They message you from a new number claiming to be your friend. (2) They reach out from a familiar WhatsApp account after hijacking that number.
- You receive a message from your “friend” or “loved one” out of the blue.
- They claim to be in some dire situation that requires your immediate help, such as being stuck abroad or in jail.
- They ask for money right away, creating a sense of urgency so that you won’t investigate the situation any further.
If you ever receive texts from friends asking for money, call them to verify their identity. An alternative is to request a voice note from the texter to confirm that the person is who they claim to be.
Verification Code Scams
In a WhatsApp verification code scam, bad actors try to log into your WhatsApp account from their mobile device. They trick you into sending a verification code that gives them access to your WhatsApp.
- You receive an unexpected message with a verification code from an unknown number.
- The unknown sender will apologize for sending you their WhatsApp verification code. Following this, they will press you to share that code with them.
- With your verification code in hand, they can now take over your WhatsApp account and lock you out.
WhatsApp sends these verification codes as push notifications when you register your phone number on the app. This could happen if someone mistyped your number or is trying to take over your account.
If you get a text message with an unexpected verification code, delete it. Block any WhatsApp user that asks you to send them a code or PIN. Finally, turn on two-step verification if you receive multiple one-time codes out of the blue.
The WhatsApp Gold scam comes around every few years — warnings about a smishing text with malicious links first appeared in 2016.
In this scam, you receive an invitation to upgrade to WhatsApp Gold, a special edition of the messaging app with new and exciting features — except it’s a hoax. WhatsApp Gold is not a real app, and any alarming “warnings” about WhatsApp Gold are also scams.
- You receive a message from a phony, official-looking WhatsApp account. It gives you a description of WhatsApp Gold and encourages you to sign up.
- After you click on the download link, the scammer installs malware on your device.
- The scammer can then hack your phone, steal sensitive information, and even message your contacts to try and get them to sign up for the fake WhatsApp Gold app.
- A variation of this scam warns recipients not to open malware-laden videos that are called “Dance of the Pope” or “Martinelli.” Eerily similar to chain letters from the past, this scare tactic urges recipients to forward copies to their phone contacts.
If you receive a message about downloading WhatsApp Gold, delete it immediately. Never forward these messages to other contacts in your phone no matter what the scam text says.
False Gift Cards
If you receive unsolicited messages asking you to fill out a survey or claim a gift card, it’s most likely a scam. These messages intentionally spoof reputable companies like Marks & Spencer, as seen in the example below. However, the goal is to dupe you into sharing personally identifiable information (PII) or downloading malware.
- You receive a WhatsApp message promising a free gift card. Because the offer is associated with a popular brand, it seems legitimate.
- After clicking on the link, you are redirected to a survey page that asks several personal questions.
- The scammer vanishes with your PII — leaving you facing the risk of identity theft and no gift card whatsoever.
If you receive a WhatsApp message from a company, confirm that you have signed up for notifications with that company. If not, ignore the message and delete it.
If such offers seem authentic or enticing, check the company’s official website or social media accounts before you click on any promotional links.
A newer WhatsApp scam in the United States involves impersonating Mega Millions to bilk victims [*]. It often happens when the jackpot is high, like in August 2022 when it hit $1.3 billion. Players and non-players are promised cash prizes in exchange for a fee to claim their prize, which of course, doesn’t exist.
- You unexpectedly receive a message from someone claiming to represent Mega Millions.
- The sender promises you cash and other prizes (like a car) in exchange for a large fee.
Keep in mind that you will not get a call from a lottery representative if you win. Also, Mega Millions doesn’t award prizes worldwide based on phone numbers or email addresses.
Legitimate winners need to have purchased tickets from an American lottery. There are no fees to claim your prize should you win.
Crypto Romance Scams
20% of Americans who have used a dating app in the past five years have encountered someone asking them to invest in cryptocurrency. These heartstring scammers tend to originate from Tinder or other dating apps, and then move to WhatsApp as they build trust with victims.
- Someone takes an interest in you online, whether on Tinder or Instagram. As they get to know you, they request your number and start messaging you on WhatsApp.
- Scammers seek to eventually impress you with wealth and sophistication, which they attribute to their cryptocurrency successes.
- They promise easy money if you start investing in crypto, and are there to help you make your first investment.
- Every “investment” you make with the scammer goes straight to their wallet. You never get your money back.
Easy money can be tempting, but remember that it often points to investment fraud. Cryptocurrency transactions and those via payment apps like PayPal or Zelle are almost impossible to reverse.
Make sure anyone you meet online is a real person and not an imposter. Do a reverse image search of their profile picture to confirm that they are who they claim to be.
QR Code Scams
This scam starts with a similar message to one you would receive in a lottery scam. The cybercriminal tells recipients that they won big in a contest. For the contest to “release” your prize money, you need to first make a payment.
After the victim concedes, the fraudster sends them a QR code to scan and transfer money. With bank account information that the victim inadvertently shares, the scammer proceeds to drain their bank account.
- Cybercriminals send a QR code over WhatsApp. They ask you to scan the code to receive money in your account.
- By scanning and entering a PIN, you give the cybercriminal access to your mobile wallets.
Scanning a QR code is like clicking on a link. Always verify where the QR code came from before scanning it. Also, know that you don’t need to scan any codes to receive money.
WhatsApp Tech Support
The scammers here impersonate members of WhatsApp’s tech support team. To make it look like they’re legitimate, they add a “verified” symbol to their profile picture. In the most common scam, impersonators will ask you to verify your identity. Or, they “help” by asking for credit card numbers, six-digit WhatsApp codes, and other sensitive information.
- A scammer sends a message posing as a WhatsApp support representative. They ask you to verify your identity with a verification code that comes through as an SMS or Telegram message.
- Once you give them the verification code, they hack your WhatsApp account and access your chats and other personal details.
There are two main clues to look out for here:
- A verification check mark appears on the sender’s profile picture. Official WhatsApp accounts carry the verified badge next to a contact name and not in the actual avatar.
- An official member of WhatsApp will never message you through the app.
They will also never ask for credit card information or verification codes to supposedly prevent account termination.
A WhatsApp scammer can hijack a victim’s account and access messages using a call forwarding trick. In this scam, a one-time password (OTP) verification code is sent via voice call by using a mobile carrier’s automated service to forward calls to another number.
- You receive a phone call from the scammer. They convince you to call a number starting with a Man Machine Interface (MMI) code. These codes begin with a star or hash prefix (*#) followed by the scammer’s phone number.
- When you dial the code, it activates n call forwarding. The attacker starts the WhatsApp registration process for the account registered with your phone number.
Don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers on WhatsApp. If you unwittingly initiated a call forwarding request, look for an on-screen pop-up to cancel activation.