POLICE ADVISORY – NEW VARIANT OF SCAMS INVOLVING TAKEOVER OF WHATSAPP ACCOUNT

Since December 2019, the Police have received at least 18 reports of a new variant of scams involving the takeover of WhatsApp accounts. In such a scam, a victim would receive a WhatsApp message from a friend, whose WhatsApp account has been compromised, requesting the victim to send over a 6-digit verification code sent to them. The victim would thereafter lose access to his or her WhatsApp account after providing the scammers with the 6-digit verification code.

Through these compromised WhatsApp accounts, scammers would impersonate as the victims' friends and ask the victims for their contact numbers and images of their credit or debit cards. The scammers' request would be on the pretext of helping them to sign up and claim prizes for fake lucky draws allegedly conducted by Lazada, Shopee or Qoo10. Victims were also told to share the One-Time Password (OTP) that they received. They eventually realised that they were cheated after discovering unauthorised transactions made on their accounts. Previously, scammers have been reported to employ similar tactics but through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Members of the public are advised to adopt the following crime prevention measures:

a) Don't be impulsive - Beware of unusual requests from strangers or even your social media contacts;

a) Don't believe - Be wary of claims that you have won a prize, especially if you have not participated in any campaign or lucky draw. Check the official websites to determine whether the lucky draw offers are legitimate. Always verify the authenticity of the request by contacting your friend, but do not do so through the social media platform as the account might have been taken over by scammers;

b) Don't give - Do not transfer money or give out your personal information, bank account or credit/debit card details, and One-Time Password (OTP) to anyone, including family and friends.

Members of the public are advised to adopt the following measures to prevent their WhatsApp accounts from being taken over:

a) Never share your WhatsApp account verification codes with anyone;

b) Beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by your WhatsApp contacts; and

c) Protect your WhatsApp account by enabling the 'Two-Step Verification' feature, which is available under 'Account' in the 'Settings' tab of your WhatsApp application.

If you wish to provide any information related to such scams, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. For urgent Police assistance, please dial '999'.

You may call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg for scam-related advice. Join the 'Let's fight scams' campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends. Together, we can help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from becoming the next victim of scam.

Source: Singapore Police Force