A grandfather recounted how he lost money saved for Christmas gifts after his family was duped by scammers on WhatsApp.
The 75-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was duped by criminals posing as his niece on the messaging service.
He transferred £ 1,550 to the scammers, for an emergency medical bill that was a fake.
WhatsApp and trade standards officers warn others of the scam.
‘Do you feel foolish’
The scammers posing as the young student sent a message to her father, saying she had a case of hemorrhoids that she was embarrassed to talk about.
Subsequent messages suggested that he needed money for private medical treatment and demanded that the money be transferred directly.
Correct spelling of his unusual name helped convince the family that he was genuine and his grandfather agreed to pay the supposed bill.
Attempts to contact her directly failed, as the calls went directly to an answering machine.
Only after the money was paid did they manage to contact her and realized they had been deceived.
“You feel such a fool,” said his grandfather. “I was angry because I could be deceived.
“You get used to these scam calls, but they’re getting pretty smart. I used to run my own business, so if they can fool people like me, a lot of very vulnerable people will be in trouble.”
He is trying to get the money back from his bank, but so far they have said their fraud checks were sufficient and they refused to refund it.
Surveys suggested that 59% of respondents received a message-based scam attempt in the past year.
It is said that younger age groups, who were more likely to text than phone, were more exposed to this type of scam.
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Trade standards officials said the scammers sent messages that appeared to come from a friend or family member before asking for personal information, money, or a six-digit code.
You would usually need this code when setting up a new account or logging into your existing account on a new device.
However, if you haven’t initiated this request, it could be a scammer trying to access your account.
Messages are sent from compromised accounts of friends or an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been blocked from the account.
“These types of scams are particularly cruel as they take advantage of our kindness and desire to help friends and family,” said Louise Baxter, head of the National Trading Standards scam team.
WhatsApp recommendations include:
- Stop. Take five minutes before answering. Make sure WhatsApp 2-Step Verification is turned on to protect your account
- To think. Ask if the request makes sense. Scammers take advantage of people’s kindness, trust, and willingness to help
- Call. Make sure it’s really your friend or family member by calling them directly
Kathryn Harnett, WhatsApp policy manager, commented: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe while staying safe. be alert to the threat of scammers.
“If you get a suspicious message, even if you think you know who it’s from, calling or requesting a voice note is the quickest and easiest way to verify that someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling. . “
The cost to the well-being of all victims of the scam has been estimated at a collective monetary total of 9.3 billion pounds per year, according to consumer group Which ?.
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