Since the beginning of November, a pervasive phishing scam exploiting fraudulent “WhatsApp Web” pages has ensnared at least 237 individuals, leading to a collective loss of $606,000. Scammers employ cunning tactics, manipulating unverified URLs to compromise WhatsApp accounts and then posing as the account owners to dupe friends and family into urgent loan schemes.
The scammers initiate their fraudulent operation by gaining control of compromised WhatsApp accounts through the deception of users clicking on unverified URLs, masquerading as the official WhatsApp Web page. This allows the fraudsters to assume the identities of the original account holders.
How It Works
Once in control, the scammers utilize various manipulative tactics to extract funds from unsuspecting contacts. They typically exploit the trust of friends and family by urgently requesting loans, citing reasons such as personal purchases, assisting distressed friends or relatives, or covering medical emergencies. To escalate the urgency, scammers claim restricted bank accounts due to exceeding transfer limits, compelling victims to act promptly.
The scammers employ a carefully orchestrated modus operandi by urging targeted contacts to transfer money to unfamiliar bank accounts or PayNow numbers under the guise of aiding the original account users. Occasionally, the fraudsters go a step further by requesting a screenshot of the alleged transfer, setting the stage for subsequent demands for additional funds.
Police Advisory and Safety Measures
Authorities, in response to the escalating number of victims, have issued a statement urging vigilance and the adoption of stringent security measures. Victims often only realize the scam after contacting their family or friends, who deny any knowledge of the funds transfer. To prevent falling prey to such scams, the police recommend enabling WhatsApp’s two-step verification, ensuring the use of the official WhatsApp Web website, and exercising caution when confronted with unusual requests on the messaging platform.
Additional Preventative Measures
The police advise individuals not to share WhatsApp account verification codes, regularly check linked devices on WhatsApp, and stay informed about potential scams by visiting www.scamalert.sg or contacting the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-7226688. These measures aim to empower the public in recognizing and thwarting potential phishing attempts.
As the WhatsApp Web phishing scam continues to victimize individuals, the importance of cybersecurity and user awareness cannot be overstated. By staying vigilant and implementing recommended security measures, users can fortify themselves against falling prey to such malicious schemes, ultimately contributing to a safer online environment.