Whenever there’s some world event, you’ll always find people taking advantage of it. We saw it in Haiti, in the Thailand Tsunami, the kids in the underwater tunnel - everywhere there is pain and suffering. It seems modern times are providing just more and more opportunities for scammers to try to part you from your money.
WhatsApp has seen a rise in messages purporting to be from friends or family asking for financial help now that times are tough.
With inflation on the rise, gas prices higher than ever, and the future looking turbulent, scammers are on the hunt again.
While we have it better than many other countries, US citizens are still being targeted.
This particular WhatsApp scam uses emotion to try to trick you into sending money.
You may receive a heartfelt message purporting to be from friends or family asking for money to help pay the bills, repair a broken phone, repair a broken furnace, or something else.
Once you engage with the message, the scammer will use social engineering to try to convince you they need help and are legit.
A common scam right now is the broken phone. You’ll receive a message from an unknown number telling you it’s a family member with a new phone.
This explains the unknown number, which is clever.
They will then ask for a sum of money, usually, $800-900 to pay for the new phone and send you their bank details.
You send the money and will later receive another message asking for more.
Your phone number will then be put on a ‘suckers list’ for future messages.
According to one specific WhatsApp spokesperson:
WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but just like on SMS, if someone has your phone number, they can contact you. We advise WhatsApp users to block and report suspicious messages, turn on two step verification for extra security and never click on links or share personal details with someone you do not know.
The rule for avoiding scams like this is the same. Ignore any messages not from people you know. If it’s real, they’ll keep trying or find another way.