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Warning for 2BILLION WhatsApp users – simple mistakes put you at big risk

WHATSAPP users are a popular target for scammers, who are using increasingly devious tactics to get hold of people’s hard-earned cash.

Some methods are more popular than others – here are the biggest phoney messages to look out for.


It’s easy to get caught out by a WhatsApp scammerCredit: AFP

Crooks impersonating loved ones

Parents are being warned of a spike in a crafty WhatsApp scam which involves distressed “hello mum” texts asking for cash.

It’s thought Brits have been conned out of almost £50,000 by the frauds which see scammers pose as theirs sons and daughters.

It’s called the “friend in need” scam, according to UK scam fighters Action Fraud.

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But it often starts with “Hi mum/dad it’s me”.

The scheme involves tricking parents into thinking they’re speaking to their children.

Often they will pretend that they’re texting on a friend’s phone or from a new number.

But your own child’s WhatsApp may have even been compromised to pull off the scam.

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The scammer will request a large sum of money to pay some kind of urgent bill.

Parents transfer the cash online without thinking, sometimes sending thousands before they realise they’ve been hoodwinked.

Police have said that this type of scam is particularly common and describe it as “fairly simple”.

Scammers target their victims, find information about them on social media and then use emojis to build a rapport.

If your “child” messages you asking for money, make sure to verify the request through another method – like on a phone call or in person.

If you’re worried that you might have fallen for a financial scam, the first thing you should do is contact your bank.

You should then report it to ActionFraud. Their website is, and their phone number is 0300 123 2040.

Verification code scam

Users also need to be beware of a dangerous scam text that hacks you in seconds.

One of the most clever methods of gaining access to someone’s WhatsApp account is through a verification code scam.

Usually what happens is that you’ll receive a text message from WhatsApp with a log-in code.

This is a two-factor authentication code that lets you log into your account – because it proves you’re in possession of the phone number.

Then you’ll get a WhatsApp message from a friend or family member.

This will say something along the lines of: “Hey! I accidentally sent you my WhatsApp log-in code. Could you send it back to me please?”

Never ever reply to this message.

It might also be worth flagging to the friend who’s been hacked that they’ve been compromised – using a different app than WhatsApp.

Once you’re compromised, make sure you immediately try to log in and kick the other person out.

If you can remove the hacker, they’ll need a new code to get back in.

Fake links

One of the most common form of WhatsApp scam is a phishing attack.

The fraudulent messages are so-called phishing attacks that lure victims to a website that appears to be operated by a trusted entity, such as a bank, social media platform or other service.

The website, however, is phoney with fake content designed to persuade a victim to enter sensitive information, such as a password or email address.

Unwitting visitors may alternatively be asked to enter their credit card details or online banking credentials.

Over the phone, phishing attackers will pose as a staff member of a trusted entity and try to convince you to tell them your details.

Whether through calls or fake websites, fraudsters often try to mimic a trusted entity’s messages so they look authentic.

This is because victims are more likely to transfer money to an institution they recognise and trust.

Common institutions that are mimicked include banks, HMRC, postal companies, Facebook, Amazon and more.

To protect yourself, make sure you only click on links or attachments sent from trusted sources.

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If you’re unsure whether a link is safe, it’s best to leave it and report the message as spam within the WhatsApp app.

In the UK, you can report a suspected scam email or message to the National Cyber Security Centre here.

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