The number of WhatsApp scams has soared by 2,000% in the past year – according to analysis from Lloyds Bank.
Fraudsters are increasingly turning to the instant messaging app in a bid to con users out of their hard-earned cash. The total number of scams reported as starting on WhatsApp had increased twenty-fold between 2020 and 2021.
On average, victims of the scams lost around £1,950 each. Lloyds Bank has now issued some message characteristics to be wary of.
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Users are being warned that the scam messages can seem “very personal” and will often use the pretence of being a family member who has lost their phone. They don’t even need to know your name, as “Mum” or “Dad” may be enough.
Lloyds Bank said: “The story they tell can vary, but most often they will claim that because it is a new phone, they don’t have access to their internet or mobile banking account, and therefore they need urgent help with paying a bill.”
The banking giant has issued the following guidance to stay safe from scammers:
- Be wary of any messages you receive from numbers which aren’t already stored in your contacts, even if it appears to be from someone you know
- Don’t be rushed into anything – first of all contact the person on the number you already have stored in your contacts to check if the story is true
- If you can’t get hold of them, you can verify the identity of the person sending the message by insisting you speak to them before transferring any money
- Remember if it is a genuine family member or friend, they won’t mind you taking these steps to stay safe
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Organised criminal gangs are always inventing new ways to dupe people out of their hard-earned cash, and the emergence of the WhatsApp scam over the last year shows the depths to which these heartless crooks are prepared to sink.
“This is a cruel scam which preys on someone’s love for their family and friends, and that natural instinct we all have to protect those closest to us. With fraud on the rise it’s vital that people are aware of the warning signs and how to stay safe.
“Never ever trust a message from an unknown number without first independently verifying the person’s identity, even if it claims to be from someone you know. Always insist on speaking to someone before sending any money.”
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