Urgent WhatsApp chat warning issued to all UK users – ignoring it will be costly

Urgent WhatsApp chat warning issued to all UK users – ignoring it will be costly
Urgent WhatsApp chat warning issued to all UK users – ignoring it will be costly

All UK WhatsApp users must be on high alert after the resurgence of a money-stealing chat scam.

Anyone with a WhatsApp account must be aware of a new threat targeting users of the popular chat service. It appears there’s a resurgence in cyber criminals using a well-known authentication tactic that attempts to steal money by impersonating friends and family.

That’s according to the team at Action Fraud who says, “WhatsApp group chat members could be targeted by criminals.” Hundreds of users have already alerted Action Fraud this year saying they have been a victim of the new scam.

So how does it work and how can you protect yourself?

The attack begins with WhatsApp members getting a phone call that appears to be from one of the people in the group.

The fraudster explains to the victim that they are sending over a one-time passcode which will allow them to join an upcoming video call for group members.

The criminal then asks the victim to share this passcode with them so they can be “registered” for the video call.

Sadly, there is no video to watch with the criminal simply using this trick to get access to the security registration code that WhatsApp issues. This allows them to register the victim’s WhatsApp account to a new device and fully take over the account.

The moment they are successful, they then begin messaging friends and family of the victim claiming they urgently need help and money transferred into their account.

It’s similar to the infamous “Hi mum” attack that saw some users handing over thousands of pounds to scammers.

“WhatsApp remains an integral mode of communication for many people across the UK, however fraudsters still find ways to infiltrate these platforms. Sadly, anyone can become a target for fraud,” Detective Superintendent Gary Miles, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police.

“With more than 630 reports already this year, we are urging users, and in particular those in big group chats on WhatsApp, to be on their guard and monitor who joins the chats.

“To keep yourself safe from fraud, never share your account details or any passcode or verification codes with anyone. If you think you are being targeted, report the message and block the sender within WhatsApp. To make your account more secure, we advise setting up two-step verification to provide an extra layer of protection.”

Along with alerting users, Action Fraud has also issued some advice on how to stay safe.

What can you do to avoid being a victim?

• Set up two-step verification (2SV) to give an extra layer of protection to your account.

Tap Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.

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

• Report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

In response to these latest attacks, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: ” “All personal messages sent on WhatsApp are protected by end-to-end encryption, but we can all play a role in keeping our accounts safe.

“We recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security and advise people never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even with friends or family.

“If you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice-note is the fastest and simplest way to check that someone is who they say they are.”

If you use WhatsApp, stay alert!

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