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26 Nov 2018
WhatsApp scams cause considerable losses

In recent months, Fraud Help Desk has received hundreds of new reports about WhatsApp fraud. Most of them involve a type of scam in which a fraudster poses as a ‘family member’ asking for money. He or she urgently needs money and promises to pay it back as soon as possible.

The request is made on WhatsApp and because the relative’s profile picture is used, it’s not clear to the recipients that they’re dealing with a scammer. In addition, the criminals seem to be aware of the (family) relationships. They even copy the ‘tone’ of their conversations: the way people speak to each other. So far this year, we have received more than 430 reports. The average loss is around 2000 euros.

A recent report comes from a victim who was severely duped. He was supposedly approached by his ‘cousin’ on WhatsApp. The two have a good relationship and chatted for a long time. At the end of the conversation, the cousin says he has been unable to pay his creditors because of a problem at his bank. As a result, his company may end up in deep trouble.

The victim decides to help out his relative and transfers the amount he needs: about 2500 euros. The cousin says he’ll repay the money as soon as the defect as his bank has been solved, probably right after the weekend. The victim completely trusts ‘his cousin’.

Then it emerges that there are two more invoices that need to be paid that day, and the man pays up again: in total, almost 9000 euros. The money of this unsuspecting benefactor ends up in the coffers of criminals.

Our advice
If you receive any request to transfer money from a family member, friend, or your employer, by e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp, please never pay on the basis of that message alone. Make sure you double-check by talking to that person face-to-face or on the phone. If you can’t make any phone call, let the person send a WhatsApp voice message. That will put them off!