‘Report it!’ Barclays urges customers to watch out for WhatsApp message scam

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People are increasingly falling victim to this latest method of fraud which sees scammers pretending to be someone’s friends or family to trick them into giving away their money. The bank is sounding the alarm that anyone can end up being affected by this and they should “report it” directly to WhatsApp if they are impacted at all. Recent research carried out by Action Fraud has revealed how these scams operate and what people should look out for.

The scam watchdog received reports of this type of fraud 25 times between August and October 2021.

Overall, those who were victims of the WhatsApp scam lost a total of £48,356 between them to the criminals.

Scammers will usually claim to be a family member and will usually begin the conversation with a greeting, such as“Hello Mum” or “Hello Dad”.

After this, they will lie and say they are texting from a new mobile number as their phone was lost or damaged.

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At this point, the scammer will go on to ask for money to buy a new phone, or claim that they need money urgently to pay a bill.

Once the victim has been convinced, the fraudster will share their bank details so they can receive payment.

Some scammers choose to return to the scene of the crime and return with further demands for money.

On its website, Barclays shared advice for those targeted on WhatsApp by potential fraudsters.

The bank stated: “Scammers send messages where they impersonate your family members or friends.

“They’ll give a reason why they’re using a different number, like saying they’ve lost their phone, then mention a reason they need money, such as an unpaid bill or a lost wallet.

“Never send a photo of the front and back of your card – this will allow someone to make purchases using your card or even access your online banking.

“If you get a message from friends or family asking for money, give them a call on a number you trust and speak to them before you make any payments.”

The financial institution is also encouraging its customers to reach out to WhatsApp directly regarding any scam claims so further protections can be put in place to assist others.

Barclays added: “If you believe you’ve been contacted on WhatsApp by someone using a fraudulent number, please help WhatsApp close down these numbers by reporting it directly to them.

“You do this by tapping the three vertical dots at the top right of the screen in the chat, choose ‘More’ and then ‘Report’.

“Once you’ve done that, you can repeat those steps to block the number from contacting you again.”

Craig Mullish, the temporary detective inspector from the City of London Police, added: If you’re contacted out of the blue from a number you don’t recognise but the person is claiming to be someone you know and are requesting financial assistance – stop and think as it could protect you and your money.

“These messages may appear genuine but your money could end up in the pockets of a criminal, so it’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests.

“Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Try and reach out to the person directly by another form of communication to confirm that their request for help is genuine as it could be a scam.”

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