WhatsApp users are being warned to beware of a new scam that involves someone hacking their account and attempting to extort money from their contacts. Social media has been inundated with users claiming their contacts have been harassed by someone asking them for money, with the number of people being targeted on the rise.
It is believed that those who have not activated their WhatsApp’s two-step verification are more susceptible to the scam, as this security step makes it more difficult to access the victim’s app.
The fraudsters reportedly gain control of the victim’s WhatsApp by making use of number porting. When these scammers port the victim’s cellphone number, the person being hijacked should receive a message from their operator that allows them to block the porting request. This, however, is not an opt out system, as the victim has less than an hour to respond to the SMS. If the porting request is not blocked, it is automatically approved.
Once the fraudster has access to the victim’s WhatsApp, the contacts are asked for money under the guise of an emergency. Often, they ask that the cash is transferred immediately via an electronic cash-send service such as the FNB’s eWallet system.
Most of the users being targeted seem to belong to the Vodacom or MTN networks.
If a user has not two-step verified their WhatsApp, they may be locked out of their accounts for at least a week.
The did a sim-swop and did exactly the same on my line. Made R24000 on last count from my WhatsApp contacts. @MTNza couldn’t cancel the sim and was demanding of so much more from me then them. Took 9hrs to cancel the sim after my first report. The mobile providers are complicit
— Mlimandlela Ndamase (@PrinceNdamase) January 9, 2020
My number was ported to @MTNza without my authorization, I’m trying to call them with no luck 😡
— Lebohang Phokela (@LeboPhokela) January 7, 2020
There is a new scam which @Vodacom is doing nothing about where your number gets ported to @MTNza then they hack your whatssap contacts and ask them for R1500. Its happening to me right now don’t send anyone money it’s not me!
— Macfarlane Moleli (@macmoleli) January 8, 2020
My number got hacked and illegally ported. 🙁 Had to block and freeze accounts. I don’t even know what to do with the million of apps that are connected with my number. Basically, if you get a strange number “approving portal of your number” immediately notify your server. 🤬
— Lwazi Monyetsane (@LwaziMonyetsane) January 6, 2020
— Nkgono Neria (@neriahlakotsa) January 4, 2020