WhatsApp users sent urgent police warning – nasty scam costs victims £1.5million this year

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UK authorities are warning WhatsApp users about a widespread type of scam that has cost victims over £1.5million this year. The City of London Police has this week sent WhatsApp users an urgent warning about the widely-used ‘friend in need’ scams. This type of WhatsApp threat, which has been around for some time, sees a victim receive a message out of the blue allegedly from a loved one or friend asking for money due to an emergency.

The message is sent from an unknown number, with the sender claiming this is their new contact and to delete the old one.

After a while the victim is asked whether they can transfer over money – often times a sum worth thousands of pounds – to help with a bill or to replace a broken phone.

Alternatively, the scammer may ask multiple times for money, leaving a victim out of pocket even more.

Between February 3 and June 21 this year these types of scams have been reported to Action Fraud 1,235 times.

The UK fraud reporting centre said this in total had cost WhatsApp users over £1.5million.

Phone security: How hackers can obtain private information

Speaking about the threat Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police said: “If you receive a message like this from a friend or family member, don’t send any money until you’ve had a chance to call them and confirm their identity. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.”

Just recently renowned sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley took to Twitter to warn followers about this scam, after the football commentator’s mother almost fell victim.

Advising people on how to stay safe, Action Fraud – the UK’s fraud and cyber crime reporting centre – said if you receive a message allegedly from a friend or family member that is making an unusual request it’s best to call them to confirm their identity.

Action Fraud also offered the following advice on how to stay safe from WhatsApp and other scams…

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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