WhatsApp Group Scam

WhatsApp group chat members are being warned they could be targeted by criminals, as Action Fraud reveals it has received 636 reports from victims of the messaging app this year.

The fraud often begins when a member of the group receives a WhatsApp audio call from the fraudster, pretending or claiming to be another member of the group. This is done to gain the individual’s trust, and often the scammer will use a false profile picture and/or display name, so at first glance it would appear to be a genuine member of the group.

The fraudster will tell the victim they are sending them a one-time passcode which will allow them to join an upcoming video call for group members. The criminal then asks the victim to share this passcode with them so they can be “registered” for the video call.

In reality, the criminal is asking for a registration code to register the victim’s WhatsApp account to a new device so they can take over their account.

Once the fraudster has access to the victim’s WhatsApp account, they will enable two-step verification which makes it impossible for the victim to regain access their account. Other members of the group, or friends and family in the victim’s contacts, will then be messaged asking them to transfer money urgently as they are in desperate need of help.

How to secure your WhatsApp account:

  • Set up two-step verification (2SV) to give an extra layer of protection to your account. Tap Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.
  • CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person outside of WhatsApp to confirm their identity.
  • Report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp.Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

If you live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. In Scotland, victims of fraud and cybercrime should report to Police Scotland on 101.

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