Beware WhatsApp 'takeover' scams: Police
SINGAPORE — The police have warned WhatsApp users here to be wary of a new scam being conducted on the popular messaging platform, which could result in victims losing access to their accounts, and their friends and family members deceived into buying online gift cards.
In a statement on Wednesday (April 18), the police said they had received reports of WhatsApp users losing control of their accounts to the scammers. But they did not say how many users in Singapore have been affected, or indicate how much money the victims might have lost.
This is how the scam works:
- The victims would first receive a message from one of their contacts – whose WhatsApp account might have already been compromised – requesting for the WhatsApp account verification codes that they have received via SMS to be sent to him or her.
- Once the verification codes are sent to the scammers, the victims would lose access to their WhatsApp account.
- The scammers would then use the compromised accounts to deceive people on the victims' contact lists into buying online gift cards, and sending over the password for the cards.
- The scammers would then profit by re-selling the gift cards online.
The police urged WhatsApp users here to be wary of unusual requests received over the messaging platform, even if they came from people they know.
"Always call your friend personally to verify the authenticity of the request if in doubt," the police added, encouraging users to enable the "two-step verification" feature that would prevent others from compromising their WhatsApp account.
Those with more information on this variant of the WhatsApp scam can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or dial '999' for urgent Police assistance.
Members of the public may also call the National Crime Prevention Council's anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg to seek advice on scam-related matters.