Singapore—The country’s police force issued a crime advisory as scammers have devised a new system for taking over WhatsApp accounts through a ruse used in group chats.
This new variation of scamming, the Police said on their website and Facebook account on Wednesday, May 29, has been reported overseas.
It starts when one scammer takes over the WhatsApp account of a user, and then posts a fake screenshot of a WhatsApp account verification code in chat groups where the user is a member, pretending to alert the other members of the chat group to WhatsApp account takeover scams.
Afterward, the scammer uses another gadget to try to log in to the WhatsApp accounts of the different members of the group, which would result in each member receiving WhatsApp verification codes on their own devices.
The scammer then gets the other group member to post screenshots of the verification codes they receive, pretending that the verification codes are still part of the scam. But since the verification codes were sent because of the illegal attempt to access the members’ accounts and are therefore legitimate, when the scammer uses these codes, he or she is able to take over the WhatsApp accounts of the other members.
The Police have informed the public of the scam and are asking every one to take the following measures to prevent this scam from occurring and spreading:
-“Do not share your account verification codes with anyone;
-Beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by your WhatsApp contacts;
-Always call your friend to verify the authenticity of the request, but do not do so through the social media platform as the account might have been taken over by scammers; and
-Protect your WhatsApp account by enabling the ‘Two-Step Verification’ feature, which is available under ‘Account’ in the ‘Settings’ tab of your WhatsApp application. This will prevent others from compromising your WhatsApp account;
-In the event that your WhatsApp account has been taken over by a scammer, you can recover the account by signing into your WhatsApp using your phone number and authenticate it by entering the verification PIN which you will receive on your phone. The scammer which is using your account will automatically be logged out thereafter.”
The Police also said that members of the public who would like to relay any information regarding this type of scam should call their hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
Individuals who require urgent assistance from the Police should call 999.
People who need to get scam-related advice should call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg.
The Police is also encouraging the public to 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.”
The advisory ends with the Police encouraging the “public to help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from becoming the next victim.”/ TISG