Warning issued over WhatsApp scam where people are losing thousands
The number of scams on WhatsApp has soared 2,000% in the past year, according to analysis by Lloyds Bank.
Fraudsters are increasingly turning to the instant messaging app in a bid to scam users out of their hard-earned money. The total number of scams reported to start on WhatsApp increased twentyfold between 2020 and 2021.
On average, victims of the scams lost around £1,950 each. Lloyds Bank has now released some message characteristics to be wary of.
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Users are warned that scam messages can seem “very personal” and will often use the pretense of being a family member who has lost their phone. They don’t even need to know your name, because “mom” or “dad” can suffice.
Lloyds Bank said: “The story they tell may vary, but most often they claim that because it’s a new phone they don’t have access to their internet or mobile banking account, and that they therefore need urgent help to pay a bill.”
The banking giant has released the following tips to stay safe from scammers:
- Beware of messages you receive from numbers that are not already saved in your contacts, even if they appear to be from someone you know
- Don’t rush into anything – first contact the person on the number you have already saved in your contacts to check if the story is true
- If you can’t reach them, you can verify the identity of the person sending the message by insisting on speaking to them before transferring money.
- Remember, if it’s a real family member or friend, they won’t mind you taking these steps to stay safe.
Liz Ziegler, director of fraud prevention at Lloyds Bank, said: “Organized crime gangs are always inventing new ways to trick people with their hard-earned money, and the emergence of the WhatsApp scam over the course of the past year shows just how ready these heartless crooks are to go down.
“This is a cruel scam that exploits someone’s love for family and friends, and that natural instinct we all have to protect our loved ones. With the rise in fraud, it’s essential that people are aware of the warning signs and ways to stay safe.
“Never trust a message from an unknown number without first independently verifying the identity of the person, even if it claims to be from someone you know. Always insist on speaking to someone one before sending money.”
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