WhatsApp Fraud – What is it? And what do you do about it?
Thousands of people are victims of WhatsApp fraud every year. Cybercriminals assume the credible role of your best friend or, for example, your father or mother. While you have no idea, the criminal is getting closer to his goal. And that target, that is you, well, your money or your data.
What is WhatsApp Fraud?
WhatsApp fraud is a type of scam that takes place through WhatsApp. Scammers approach users through private messages or group conversations, often posing as a trusted person or agency, such as a bank, a government agency, or even a friend or family member. They try to extort money or personal information through threats or false promises.
Different types of WhatsApp fraud occur, such as:
- Phishing: where scammers try to obtain personal information through fake emails or messages that appear to come from a trusted person or agency.
- Lottery or prize fraud: where scammers claim that the user has won a prize and ask for money or personal information to claim the prize.
- Fake website scams: where scammers redirect users to fake websites that look real and attempt to extort money or personal information.
- Fake product or service scams: where scammers offer fake products or services and charge money for these “products” before they are ever delivered.
It is important to always be alert to these types of scams and never give personal information or money to unknown persons or organizations via WhatsApp. In addition, it is always advisable to inquire with the authority they claim to be or the police if in doubt or suspected of fraud.
Examples of WhatsApp fraud
To get a better picture of WhatsApp fraud, we show three fairly recent examples of WhatsApp fraud. This gives you a better picture of WhatsApp fraud and gives you a clear picture of what WhatsApp fraud exactly entails.
- In 2019, scammers used WhatsApp to convince people they had won a lottery prize. The scammers asked the victims to transfer money as a deposit for the prize, but after the money was transferred, the victims were not refunded and did not receive any prize.
- In 2020, a scammer used WhatsApp to pose as a luxury car salesman. He offered the cars at a very low price and asked the victims to transfer money as a down payment. After the money was transferred, the scammer could no longer be reached and the victims were not given a car.
- In 2021, scammers used WhatsApp to impersonate the police. They sent messages to people saying charges had been filed against them and asking for money or personal information. It turned out that these messages were not from the police and the scammers used this information for identity fraud.
WhatsApp fraud takes many different forms. That makes it difficult to counter this form of scam. However, there are several things you can do to protect yourself against this annoying form of fraud.
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How can you recognize WhatsApp fraud?
To reduce the chance that you will become a victim of WhatsApp fraud, we have put together a list of several WhatsApp fraud indicators. By carefully checking this list for WhatsApp conversations that you don’t trust, you can judge for yourself whether or not you should continue the conversation. A tea party with a cybercriminal is not exactly the ideal way to spend your day.
There are several ways to spot WhatsApp fraud:
- Unknown numbers: If you receive a message from a number you don’t know, be extra careful. Scammers can often impersonate a trusted entity such as a bank or government agency.
- Wrong spelling and grammar: Scammers are often not careful with the spelling and grammar in their messages. If a message is full of language errors, it is probably a scam.
- Urgency: Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency through threats or promises. If a message claims that something serious is going on and that you need to act quickly, be extra vigilant.
- Personal information or money: Scammers will often ask for personal information or money. Never be too quick to give this information or money unless you are sure the requester is trustworthy.
- Ask yourself: If you receive a message and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, take some time to think before you act. You can also always contact the agency they claim to be or the police if you suspect fraud.
WhatsApp fraud is a serious problem and needs to be dealt with thoroughly. The Municipality of Rotterdam thinks the same. The Municipality of Rotterdam has therefore set up the Real-fake campaign together with the Security Alliance for the Rotterdam Region (VAR).
Throughout Rotterdam, you will find creative posters and videos that show everyone in the city what WhatsApp fraud is, but the campaign continues on the internet. Not only the purebred Rotterdammers and the tourists in this city should be able to detect the problem. It is a global problem that we all need to do something about.
On the website of the Really fake campaign, you will find all kinds of information about WhatsApp fraud, but you can also lure someone into a trap yourself. Via the website, you can send a fake WhatsApp that asks someone to click on a payment link. But rest assured, the payment link will send you to the WhatsApp fraud quiz web page.
The campaign is a very nice initiative that is definitely worth checking out. Together we want to do as much as possible to eliminate this form of fraud.
This way you can prevent WhatsApp fraud
There are several steps you can take to prevent WhatsApp fraud:
- Have a strong password and security settings: Make sure you have a strong password for your phone and WhatsApp account and keep the security settings on your phone up to date.
- Be careful about sharing personal information: Be careful about sharing personal information, such as your bank details or credit card numbers, through WhatsApp.
- Be suspicious of unknown numbers: Be suspicious of unknown numbers that approach you on WhatsApp, especially if they claim to be someone you know.
- Check the link: If you receive a link via WhatsApp, don’t just accept it, first check the link by manually entering the link in the browser.
- Check with the agency they claim to be or the police: If you suspect fraud or have any doubts about the legitimacy of a message, contact the agency they claim to be or the police.
In addition, a VPN connection can also help to prevent WhatsApp fraud, because a VPN secures your internet connection and protects your online activities against hackers and scammers.
A VPN works by encrypting your internet connection’s traffic and sending it over a secure connection through a remote server. This allows no one, including hackers and scammers, to intercept or track your internet traffic.
A VPN can help you prevent WhatsApp fraud by:
- Personal information protection: A VPN can help protect personal information, such as credit card information and passwords, from hackers and scammers who try to steal this information through WhatsApp.
- Internet Connection Security: A VPN helps protect your Internet connection from cyber criminals trying to intercept and steal your WhatsApp traffic. This information can be valuable to a cybercriminal, as they can use this information to initiate a more personal conversation.
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