WhatsApp messaging scam is draining bank accounts

Scammers are conning Aussies out of their savings through a nasty new tactic using popular messaging service WhatsApp.

WhatsApp – the encrypted messaging app used by millions globally – offers users a free and (mostly) secure way to stay in touch with friends and family. But the anonymity provided by the app is now also providing cover for scammers targeting unsuspecting victims.

First reported on the Seniors Discount Club forum, a member by the name of Gillian was the victim of a cunning new WhatsApp scam that goes further than most previous ruses.

Gillian received a WhatsApp message from her ‘daughter’. The message was from her daughter’s real mobile number and whoever was on the other end was chatting to Gillian in a similar way to her daughter. Gillian didn’t suspect anything was amiss.

Read: How loneliness can put people more at risk of being scammed

The exchanges continued, before the scammer told Gillian they were “changing to a work phone” and began messaging Gillian from a new number. As Gillian believed she was speaking to her daughter, she thought nothing of it.

From the new number, Gillian’s ‘daughter’ said she was having trouble getting into her online banking in order to pay a bill. Gillian assumed her daughter was calling from work and couldn’t access her banking due to being on a work computer.

The scammer told Gillian they needed to pay a utility bill via email, which they then sent to her. The email looked legitimate, but when Gillian tried to click through to pay, she found she was unable to.

When Gillian told the scammer this, they requested Gillian send them her bank details as the daughter “knew how to pay the bill”. As Gillian still believed she was talking to her real daughter, she sent the details across and her bank account was subsequently drained.

Read: How to avoid online vehicle scams

Gillian says a good friend was also on the receiving end of the same scam, with a scammer impersonating a family member.

Gillian believes the scammers must have been able to access messages on her phone in order to imitate her daughter’s mannerisms and texting style.

If you receive a message from a loved one asking for money on any platform, it’s essential you confirm who they are by either asking a personal question only the real person would know or by calling the person directly.

Read: How to recognise the latest online scams and keep the thieves at bay

That tactic joins a list of WhatsApp scams hitting Australians in 2022.

Last month, reports emerged of another WhatsApp scam that begins with an unsolicited message from WhatsApp Support containing a six-digit access code. Immediately following that message, users receive another message from an unknown number saying they desperately need the code and it had been sent to them by mistake.

If the victim then sends the code to the number, they have effectively given the scammer their full WhatsApp login details.

When WhatsApp users get a new phone, they are prompted when first signing into the app to enter a six-digit code that will be sent to their number in order to access all their previous saved messages.

It’s believed scammers are just clicking the ‘new phone’ option for random numbers, then messaging those numbers in the hope they’ll be given the code.

Again, be very suspicious of any unsolicited emails or messages you receive asking you to do something, be it sending money or providing login details. Always check any requests with the institution by calling them directly to confirm.

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