Americans Could Lose $28 Billion to Text Message Scams in 2023 | 7 Whatsapp Scams to Look Out For
With the increasing popularity of WhatsApp, scammers have found fertile ground to exploit unsuspecting users and steal their money and identity. As the messaging app's user base grows to over two billion monthly active users, scammers have sent a staggering 66 billion spam texts through WhatsApp in 2022 alone. In 2023, Americans could lose $28 billion to text message scams as per projections. To protect yourself from these malicious schemes, you must be aware of the most trending WhatsApp scams, understand how they work, and take necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to them.
Mom and Dad impersonation schemes
In this classic social engineering attack, scammers impersonate a victim's child and ask for money. The scam begins with the target receiving a WhatsApp message from an unknown number claiming to be their child. The scammer weaves a convincing story, such as a lost or broken phone to justify using a new number. They may also claim to be locked out of their mobile banking app, creating a sense of urgency. The victim is then asked to send money to a provided bank account and once the transfer is made, the scammer disappears.
To protect yourself from this scam, always verify your child's new number by contacting them through another means before initiating any fund transfer. Additionally, confirm any bank account details verbally before sending money.
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, per Aura. They may message from a new number or hijack an existing WhatsApp account to add credibility to their claim. They create urgency by describing a dire situation and asking for money, personal information, or even your WhatsApp verification code.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, never send money or verification codes to someone claiming to be a friend or loved one without verifying their identity through a voice call or other means.
Verification code scams
In a verification code scam, scammers attempt to log into your WhatsApp account using their mobile device. They trick you into sending them the verification code WhatsApp sends as a push notification when registering your phone number on the app. With this code, they gain access to your account and lock you out. To protect yourself, never share your WhatsApp verification code with anyone else. If you receive an unexpected verification code, delete the message and block any WhatsApp user asking for such codes.
The WhatsApp Gold scam resurfaces periodically with scammers sending messages inviting users to upgrade to a special edition of the app called WhatsApp Gold, promising exciting new features. However, WhatsApp Gold is a hoax and the scam aims to install malware on your device. To avoid this scam, delete any messages about WhatsApp Gold immediately and never forward them to others.
Bogus gift cards and surveys
Scammers send unsolicited messages claiming to offer free gift cards or surveys associated with reputable companies. They aim to collect your personally identifiable information (PII) or infect your device with malware. To protect yourself, verify the authenticity of such offers by checking the company's official website or social media accounts before clicking on any links.
Scammers impersonate lottery representatives, often claiming to represent Mega Millions and promising cash prizes in exchange for a fee. These scams prey on victims when the jackpot is high, creating a sense of excitement and urgency.
To avoid falling victim, remember that legitimate lottery representatives do not call winners directly, and there are no fees to claim prizes. Be cautious and verify the legitimacy of such claims through official lottery websites.
Crypto romance scams
Scammers take advantage of dating apps and move to WhatsApp after gaining the trust of their victims. They promise easy money through cryptocurrency investments but end up pocketing the victims' funds. Protect yourself by being cautious of anyone promising easy money and conduct thorough research before investing in cryptocurrencies.
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