WhatsApp scams are very much on the rise. They vary from people promising to give you R25 000 in a week, if you just donate R2500 now. To the more well known family member who passed away in Singapore and bequeathed to me his life savings.
This leads us to believe that WhatsApp scams are becoming as common as the countless email scams we have come across over the years.
While it may come as second nature to spot a scam to some, there are still scores of people falling for these scams daily. Here are some of the more common scams to avoid on WhatsApp:
A friend or family member asking for financial assistance
This type of scam has been gaining popularity for some years and how it works is that a contact you talk to regularly or person on your contact list will send you a message stating some type of emergency that requires you to send them cash immediately.
The best way to avoid this type of scam is to call the person immediately to verify whether or not they actually need money.
Scammers have some crafty ways of getting hold of cellphone numbers and bombarding WhatsApp contacts with requests for cash.
They do this is by contacting you and claiming that either you have won a prize or need to verify your account. The scammer will then ask you to send them a verification code that is sent to your phone and as soon as you send it through, they will take control of your WhatsApp and have the ability to message your contacts.
Under no circumstances should you share any pin codes, verification codes or any details with someone who you don’t know.
You receive a message from one of your contacts on WhatsApp that has a link below it. The message claims something along the lines of “WhatsApp Gold, once only available to celebs and the rich is now available to you” This is accompanied by a link to download it. The moment you click the link you open up your device to malware, phone locking and hacking and a host of other ways that your device can be hacked.
A rule of thumb should be to not click any links unless you know what you are clicking.
Scammers send out fake Pick n Pay/Takealot/Woolworths vouchers on WhatsApp that look like they have been sent by someone who cares about you but are designed to dupe you into clicking the link in order to hack your account or device.
Just like the WhatsApp Gold hack, do not click any links unless you know for sure what is beyond it.
Crypto and trading Scams
A new scam that has recently come to our attention are crypto scams, these generally come from a contact that you don't know and almost always promise you great returns on some or another cryptocurrency or trading platform. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Do not give money to any person/company you have never personally been to or can say without a shadow of a doubt they are legitimate.
With Social Media platforms growing rapidly and more social media companies being born daily, there is no shortage of platforms you can be targeted on. Scammers are getting smarter in the ways in which they entice people to engage with them.
WhatsApp also has a handy tool that allows you to report or block certain contacts which may come in handy if you encounter a fraudster.
The main thing to remember with WhatsApp, and any other social media platform is to simply keep it social. Do not engage and give away personal info to people you don't know, don't click links you don't know and perhaps most importantly, do not hand over your hard earned cash to anyone that asks you for it on a social media platform.