Use of social media is soaring as people are confined to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and turn online to keep in touch with loved ones, thereby making it easy for WhatsApp scams or hoaxes to spread.
These messages circulate easily, shared by people who believe they are helping their friends, but only serve to cause confusion and worry.
Here Are Some Popular WhatsApp Scams You Should Be Careful Of:
A scam promoting WhatsApp Gold – a premium version of the messaging service allegedly used by celebrities – is circulating on social networks. The fraudulent message starts with a message via social networks in which WhatsApp users are invited to click on a link to update their app to the inexistent Gold (Oro) version.
Would-be users are promised a raft of extra features and given a link, which actually leads to a malicious software download where one has to give out his personal information or phone number.
Be careful of this hoax. Whatsapp Gold isnt real!
“Do Not Open This Video”
Another message currently circulating on WhatsApp warns users to watch out for a video called ‘Martinelli’, which will damage phones when watched. The video in question doesn’t seem to actually exist, and if it did, watching videos within WhatsApp itself won’t cause malicious software to be installed; the problem arises when messages contain a link to an external site, which could direct them anywhere.
A similar hoax warns about a video called ‘The Dance of the Pope’, which will allegedly reformat the victim’s phone. According to Whatsapp Fact checks, no such video exists, and variations of the same message have been circulating since at least 2015.
Fraudsters also send out messages that look like they have been sent from an actual contact or company.
Most of these messages read: “Hello, Shoprite is giving away R250 Free Voucher to celebrate 70th anniversary, go here to get it. Enjoy and thanks me later !.” or “Have you seen this?”
The are normally designed to trick you into clicking on the URL to claim the alleged voucher. Action Fraud – UK’s cyber reporting centre – warns if you click on the URL you are taken to a fake website designed to trick you into handing over personal information.
How to protect yourself
To fight back, WhatsApp is now testing a fact-checking tool that will let you search online for more information and context about messages you receive.
Action Fraud has the following tips for staying safe from WhatsApp scams:
- Install a security software on your device and keep it up to date.
- Never click on unsolicited links in messages that you that receive, even if they appear to come from a trusted contact.
- Follow WhatsApp’s advice for staying safe whilst using the messaging service found here: https://faq.whatsapp.com/en/general/21197244