New WhatsApp scam could see you lose a lot of money and friends

WhatsApp users are being warned about a new scam that could not only cost them money but also their friendships.

Fraudsters are using an authentication tactic to impersonate friends and family in order to steal money. Action Fraud has alerted WhatsApp group chat members to the potential threat, following hundreds of reports from victims this year who have fallen prey to the scam.

The scam begins with a phone call appearing to come from a member of the victim's WhatsApp group. The fraudster explains they are sending a one-time passcode for an upcoming group video call.


The victim is then asked to share this passcode so they can be "registered" for the video call. However, this is a ruse to gain access to the security registration code issued by WhatsApp, allowing the criminal to register the victim's account on a new device and take full control.

Once successful, the fraudster starts messaging the victim's contacts, pretending to be in urgent need of financial help, reports Kent Live. This scam bears similarities to the notorious "Hi mum" attack, which saw users handing over thousands of pounds to scammers.

"WhatsApp remains an integral mode of communication for many people across the UK, however fraudsters still find ways to infiltrate these platforms. Sadly, anyone can become a target for fraud," Detective Superintendent Gary Miles, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police.

"With more than 630 reports already this year, we are urging users, and in particular those in big group chats on WhatsApp, to be on their guard and monitor who joins the chats."

"To keep yourself safe from fraud, never share your account details or any passcode or verification codes with anyone. If you think you are being targeted, report the message and block the sender within WhatsApp. To make your account more secure, we advise setting up two-step verification to provide an extra layer of protection."

Along with alerting users, Action Fraud has also issued some advice on how to stay safe.

What can you do to avoid being a victim?

  • Set up two-step verification (2SV) to give an extra layer of protection to your account. Tap Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.

  • CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person outside of WhatsApp to confirm their identity.

  • Report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select 'Report' and then follow the instructions.

In response to these latest attacks, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: " "All personal messages sent on WhatsApp are protected by end-to-end encryption, but we can all play a role in keeping our accounts safe.

"We recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security and advise people never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even with friends or family."

"If you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it's from), calling or requesting a voice-note is the fastest and simplest way to check that someone is who they say they are."