WhatsApp Scams – Best ways to avoid becoming a victim

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Instant messaging has become intertwined with our daily routines, WhatsApp stands out as a ubiquitous platform connecting billions of people worldwide. However, its popularity also makes it a fertile ground for scammers, who continuously devise new schemes to exploit unsuspecting users.

In this aritcle, we will explore into the ever-evolving landscape of WhatsApp scams, shedding light on the most common tactics employed by cybercriminals. More importantly, we will arm you with the best ways to safeguard yourself against these digital predators.

Understanding the mechanics of these scams is the first step in building a robust defence, ensuring that you can enjoy the convenience of instant messaging without the looming fear of becoming a victim

Key Takeaways – WhatsApp Scams

  • WhatsApp scams exploit its vast user base and end-to-end encryption to perpetrate frauds such as emergency requests for information or money, phishing, and malware attacks.

  • Proactive strategies to avoid falling victim of a WhatsApp scam include verifying sender identities, being cautious with links and attachments, enabling two-factor authentication, limiting personal information sharing, and keeping security software up to date.

  • In the event of falling prey to a WhatsApp scam, it is essential to document the incident, cease communication, block the scammer, report to authorities, secure online accounts, and monitor financial activity for any irregularities.

How to Protect Yourself from a WhatsApp Scam

To protect yourself from WhatsApp scams, follow these best practices:

  1. Verify the Sender: Always confirm the identity of the person contacting you, especially if they are asking for money or personal information
  2. Be Cautious with Links and Attachments: Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources
  3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Add an extra layer of security to your WhatsApp account by enabling two-factor authentication
  4. Maintain Privacy: Be mindful of the personal information you share on WhatsApp and with whom you are sharing it
  5. Use Security Software: Install reputable antivirus software on your devices to protect against malware and other online threats

Key Elements of a WhatsApp Scam

WhatsApp scams typically involve:

  • Urgent Requests for Money: Scammers often create a false sense of urgency to trick victims into sending money quickly
  • Requests for Personal Information: Scammers may attempt to gather sensitive data like passwords or bank details for identity theft
  • Distribution of Malware: Malicious links or files shared over WhatsApp can install malware on your device
  • Impersonation: Scammers may pretend to be someone you know or a reputable organisation to gain your trust

Understanding a WhatsApp Scam

Illustration of a smartphone with WhatsApp logo, depicting one of the numerus WhatsApp Scams

WhatsApp scams are fraudulent tactics aimed at deceiving users into revealing personal information, transferring funds, or downloading malicious software through WhatsApp messages. The main objectives of WhatsApp scammers are to obtain personal data, commit identity theft, install malware or harmful software, and defraud users of money.

Such scams have been on the rise with scammers using advanced technologies like AI voice cloning. They can gain access to a user’s WhatsApp account or their phone only if the user permits it by clicking an infected link or sharing a WhatsApp verification code.

Learn how to protect yoursef from scammers and fraudsters, read our informative, easy to read Blog, higlighting all the lastest scams.

The Allure of WhatsApp for Scammers

WhatsApp the messaging app is a gold mine for scammers due to its large user base of 2 billion active users globally. This wide potential target audience makes it easier for scammers to deceive users into transferring money or sharing personal information.

The messaging app’s accessibility allows scammers to easily connect with a varied audience without encountering significant obstacles, potentially gaining access to victims’ bank account details.

Its end-to-end encryption, while providing a level of privacy for users, also creates a challenge in tracking and addressing the activities of scammers due to the anonymity it provides in text message communication.

Encryption: Security and Anonymity

End-to-end encryption in WhatsApp ensures the security of messages by preventing unauthorised access, protecting not only your conversations but also your WhatsApp contacts. However, this encryption also benefits scammers by providing them with a degree of anonymity to operate, making it easier for them to deceive users into sharing their bank account details or other sensitive information.

Although law enforcement can trace a WhatsApp message by obtaining a warrant to compel WhatsApp to provide metadata or by other methods such as tracking IP addresses or employing social engineering, it is still possible for your WhatsApp account to be hacked.

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Identifying Common WhatsApp Scams

Illustration of a scammer sending a deceptive message

There are numerous types of scams that circulate on WhatsApp. The ‘Friend or loved one in need’ scam is a typical example where scammers pretend to be the victim’s friends or loved ones, fabricating urgent needs to obtain the victim’s six-digit WhatsApp verification code, personal information, or send money out.

Verification code deception and call-forwarding scams involve attackers impersonating customer service agents and persuading victims to dial a call forwarding number, thus gaining access to the victim’s account.

Impersonation and Emergency Scams

Impersonation scams on WhatsApp are perpetrated by criminals who pretend to be someone the victim knows, often exploiting a crisis situation to manipulate them into providing money or personal information. A more advanced version of this same impersonation scam involves AI used to generate fabricated voice recordings that imitate the voice of a familiar individual.

An example of such a scam is the ‘loved one in need’ scam where a scammer poses as a close friend or family member, or friend or family member who claims to have a new phone number and asks for money to assist with an urgent situation. These scam messages can have a substantial financial impact on the victims.

Verification Code Deception

Illustration of a person receiving a verification code

In the case of the WhatsApp verification code scam, scammers trick victims into sharing their WhatsApp verification codes with an unknown number, allowing scammers to hijack the victim’s account.

Scammers carry out the verification code scam by attempting to log into your own account on WhatsApp on a different device, causing a verification code to be sent to your phone. Then, they pose as an unknown individual who mistakenly sent the code to your number and request you to share the code with an unknown number.

If you disclose your WhatsApp verification code to a scammer, they can take control of your WhatsApp account, restrict your access, ignore messages and engage in additional fraudulent activities by posing as you.

Investment and Cryptocurrency Frauds

Investment scams on WhatsApp often involve receiving unsolicited messages asking for money, job offers promising high earnings, scammers soliciting investments in fake businesses, or invitations to download exclusive apps such as WhatsApp Gold, which are actually malware.

One such example is the WhatsApp Gold scam. Scammers often begin by establishing a friendly or romantic connection on WhatsApp or another platform, and then transition the conversation to WhatsApp.

They gradually introduce the topic of cryptocurrency, sharing stories of friends or relatives who have profited from a promising opportunity. If the victim expresses interest, the scammer typically suggests making a cash deposit on a cryptocurrency trading site to transfer money and get started.

Romance and Catfishing Schemes

In romance and catfishing schemes, scammers build fake relationships with victims before asking for money or sensitive information. Scammers create believable profiles by:

  • Establishing fake identities on dating websites, apps, and social media platforms in order to attract and deceive potential victims

  • Feigning illness, injury, or incarceration to request financial assistance

  • Initiating a romantic connection and transferring the conversation to WhatsApp

  • Engaging in deceptive impersonation

Phishing and Malware Attacks

Phishing and malware attacks involve scammers sending links to fake software updates containing malware, forwarding phishing messages, using authentic-looking QR codes, and making promises of rewards. The indicators of a potential attack include receiving spam messages from unfamiliar contacts, requests for personal or financial details, suspicious links or attachments, and messages conveying urgency or fear.

WhatsApp Job Offer Scams

WhatsApp job offer scams are becoming increasingly common, with scammers posing as potential employers and offering lucrative job opportunities.

The Scam often involves a request for personal information, such as bank account details or copies of identification documents, under the pretense of conducting background checks.

It is important to be cautious and verify the legitimacy of any job offers received through WhatsApp to avoid falling victim to these scams.

Safeguarding Yourself from WhatsApp Scams

Here’s how you can safeguard yourself against these scams:

  • Confirm the sender’s identity before parting with money

  • Question urgent monetary requests

  • Confirm a company’s legitimacy by checking if you’ve agreed to receive notifications from them.

Exercise caution when dealing with links and attachments in a WhatsApp message. Refrain from opening downloads from untrusted sources and cross-verify suspicious messages with your contacts through another communication method.

Verify the Sender’s Identity

You can confirm someone’s identity on WhatsApp by validating their phone number via a call or a verification code. You can also cross-check by reaching out to the person through a different communication medium, such as placing a call to a new contact or messaging a known mutual acquaintance.

Be Cautious with Links and Attachments

Refrain from opening or downloading links and attachments from untrusted sources. If you receive a message seemingly from a friend, consider cross-verifying its authenticity before proceeding. To ensure a safer online experience, report spam messages when encountered.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security for logins, including messaging apps like WhatsApp. This feature is beneficial for WhatsApp users as it adds an additional protective layer to their accounts, preventing unauthorized access even if someone attempts to add their account to a different device.

Maintain Privacy and Limit Information Sharing

It is advisable to avoid sharing your phone number and personal information with individuals you are not familiar with on WhatsApp. Sharing personal information can heighten the risk of falling victim to scams as scammers may utilise the shared information for phishing attempts or identity theft.

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Stay Updated and Use Security Software

Illustration of a smartphone with security shield

Keep your device and Apps updated, and use security software to protect against online threats. Updating apps and software is beneficial for device security as it fixes security flaws and bugs, enhances email security and filtering capabilities, reduces the risk of phishing scams downloading malware, and protects against identity theft, fraud, hijacking of sensitive apps and accounts, and ransomware.

Stealing data from WhatsApp

Information from WhatsApp can be accessed or taken in various ways, depending on the context and the means used:

  1. User Access: As a user, you can access your own WhatsApp information such as chat history, media, and contacts. This can be done through the app itself or by using WhatsApp’s backup and export features.
  2. Backup and Export: WhatsApp allows users to back up their chat history to cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud. Users can also export individual chat threads as text files, often accompanied by media files.
  3. WhatsApp Web and Desktop App: By using WhatsApp Web or the desktop app, users can access their WhatsApp account on a computer. This also allows for the saving of information directly from the computer.
  4. Third-Party Apps: There are third-party applications and tools that claim to be able to access or retrieve information from WhatsApp, often for backup or recovery purposes. However, the use of such tools can pose privacy and security risks and might violate WhatsApp’s terms of service.
  5. Forensic Analysis: In legal and investigative contexts, specialised forensic tools can be used to extract data from smartphones, including WhatsApp messages. This is typically done by law enforcement or authorised investigators.
  6. APIs for Business: WhatsApp offers business an Aplication Programming Interface (API) that allow businesses to communicate with their customers. Through this, businesses can access messages sent to them by customers, but not the customers’ chat histories.

It’s important to note that unauthorised access to someone else’s WhatsApp account or data without their consent is a violation of privacy and may be illegal in many jurisdictions. WhatsApp employs end-to-end encryption to protect the privacy of its users’ communications.

Responding to a WhatsApp Scam Incident

If you have unfortunately been scammed on WhatsApp, it is important to take the right steps. It is advisable to promptly report the scam to WhatsApp and consider reporting it to the police for further action.

Document the Scam

Take screenshots of the scammer last communication as evidence. In documenting a WhatsApp scammer, it is important to include the relevant conversation or message thread in the screenshot, along with any additional details about the scammer, such as their phone number or email address.

Cease Communication and Block the Scammer

Stop communicating with the scammer and block their number on WhatsApp. To block a contact directly from the chat interface on WhatsApp, you can:

  1. Open the chat with the contact

  2. Tap the name of the contact at the top of the chat screen

  3. Scroll down

  4. Tap ‘Block [name of contact]’

Report the Incident to WhatsApp and Authorities

Illustration of reporting a scam incident

Report the scam to the following authorities:

  • WhatsApp: Open the chat with the suspicious contact, press and hold on a message, then tap ‘report’ from the context menu.

  • The police

  • Action Fraud (UK)
  • Other relevant authorities.

Secure Your Online Accounts

You should change your passwords and PINs for all your online accounts, including WhatsApp, to maintain security.

Changing your passwords and PINs for all your online accounts can bolster security and prevent unauthorised access.

Monitor Financial Activity

If you believe you have become a victime of a WhatsApp scam, or in fact any scam, it’s advisable to monitor your own bank accounts and credit card accounts for suspicious activities if you’ve disclosed financial information, including bank details, to the scammer. Regular monitoring of financial activities is advised; some people prefer daily checks, while others opt for weekly reviews.


To sum up, a WhatsApp scam can take various forms, from impersonation and emergency scams to investment and gift card scams and cryptocurrency frauds.

However, by being vigilant and taking preventive measures such as verifying the sender’s identity, being cautious with links and attachments, enabling two-factor authentication, maintaining privacy, and using security software, you can protect yourself from these scams.

If you do fall victim to a scam, it’s important to document the scam, cease communication, report the incident, secure your accounts, and monitor your financial activity.

Lady holding a green photo of a white phone with a green background

Frequently Asked Questions – WhatsApp Scams

Why am I getting recruitment messages on WhatsApp?

You may receive a recruitment message on WhatsApp from fraudsters pretending to be recruiters in order to obtain your personal information or payment. Be cautious and avoid sharing personal details, as this could be one of the numerous WhatsApp scams.

What happens if you open a spam WhatsApp message?

If you open a spam WhatsApp message and click on any links included in suspicious text message, you risk exposing your personal information to scammers who might try to steal your data, or hack into your account. Be cautious and avoid interacting with suspicious messages.

What are some common WhatsApp scams?

Be cautious of common WhatsApp scams like impersonation, verification code deception, investment frauds, romance schemes, and phishing attacks to protect yourself from potential harm. Stay vigilant and verify the authenticity of messages to avoid falling victim to these and other online threats and scams.

How can I verify the identity of a sender on WhatsApp?

You can verify the identity of a sender on WhatsApp by confirming their phone number through a call or verification code, and also by reaching out to them through a different communication channel for confirmation.

WhatsApp wrong number scams

When is comes to wrong number scams WhatsApp is often used. To avoid falling victim to wrong number scams on WhatsApp, be cautious when receiving unexpected messages from unknown numbers. Avoid sharing personal information or engaging in financial transactions with unknown individuals. Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

How to avoid whatsapp scams?

Be cautious of recieving a suspicious message on any medium, avoid sharing personal information, enable two-step verification, and regularly update your WhatsApp app. WhatsApp romance scams are one of the numerous scams that is used to decieve individuals.

What are whatsapp dating scams?

Dating scams on WhatsApp refer to fraudulent activities where scammers use the popular messaging app, WhatsApp, to exploit unsuspecting individuals seeking romantic relationships. In relation to romance scams WhatsApp is the perfect tool.

These scams typically involve the scammer posing as a potential love interest and establishing a connection with the victim. They may manipulate emotions, gain trust, and eventually ask for money or personal information. It is important to be cautious and skeptical of any unknown individuals on WhatsApp who ask for money or engage in suspicious behavior.

Are there job scams on WhatsApp?

Yes, job scams do exist on WhatsApp. Scammers often use WhatsApp to send fraudulent job offers, luring individuals with the promise of high-paying jobs or easy work-from-home opportunities.

These scams may ask for personal information, upfront fees, or bank details under the guise of job applications or training costs. It’s important to be cautious, verify the legitimacy of any job offer received via WhatsApp, and never share personal or financial information without thorough verification.

What are wrong number scams?

Wrong number scams on WhatsApp involve scammers contacting you, usually pretending to have dialed a wrong number. They often initiate a friendly conversation to gain your trust. Over time, they may weave a story leading to a request for money, personal information, or access to your device, often under the guise of an emergency or a lucrative opportunity.

What are the Latest scams on WhatsApp?

The latest scams on WhatsApp include a phishing message, fake offers, and identity theft attempts. Users should be cautious of suspicious links within a message, requests for personal information, and recieving am unsolicited message from unknown contacts. Stay vigilant and avoid sharing sensitive information or clicking on suspicious links to protect yourself from these scams.

I have become a victim of WhatsApp scams what to do next?

If you recieve a WhatsApp message that yru believe is a scam, then Report the scam to your local authorities, Action Fraud (UK) and contact your bank or financial institution to secure your accounts. Additionally, inform your friends and family about the incident to prevent further spread of the scam.

Is it safe to reply to an unknown number on WhatsApp?

Replying to an unknown message / number on WhatsApp can be risky. It’s important to be cautious as it could be a scammer or spammer. If you don’t recognise the number, consider ignoring the message or blocking the contact. Always avoid sharing personal information with unknown contacts.

What to do with spam WhatsApp messages?

To handle spam WhatsApp messages, follow these steps:

Do Not Respond: Avoid replying to unknown or suspicious messages.
Block the Sender: Use WhatsApp’s feature to block the sender to prevent further messages.

Report as Spam: Use the “Report Spam” feature in WhatsApp to notify the service.

Adjust Privacy Settings: Limit who can see your profile photo, status, and last seen information.

Be Cautious with Links: Don’t click on unknown or suspicious links within a message.
Update WhatsApp Regularly: Ensure you have the latest version for security updates.

Remember, never share personal information with unknown contacts.

What is the WhatsApp Gold Scam?

The WhatsApp Gold Scam is a fraudulent scheme where users are tricked into believing that an exclusive version of WhatsApp called WhatsApp Gold exists. Scammers claim that this version offers extra features, such as video calling, enhanced security, and the ability to delete a sent message.

However, this is a hoax designed to deceive users into downloading malware or sharing personal information. It is important to be cautious and avoid falling victim to such scams by only downloading apps from official sources and verifying information before sharing or clicking on suspicious links.

Can information be taken from WhatsApp?

Information can be taken from WhatsApp depends on the context. In certain circumstances, law enforcement agencies might request information from WhatsApp as part of legal investigations. There are third-party apps and spyware tools that claim to be able to access information from WhatsApp, often by exploiting security vulnerabilities or by deceiving users into granting permissions.

What to do with spam WhatsApp messages?

If you receive spam messages on WhatsApp, you should:

Block the Sender: Go to the spam message, tap the contact name or number at the top, scroll down, and select “Block”.

Report as Spam: When you receive a message from an unknown number, WhatsApp gives you an option to “Report spam and block” directly from the message. This helps WhatsApp identify and reduce spam.

Useful Reference Websites

  1. Action Fraud
    • Website: actionfraud.police.uk
    • Description: Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Victims of online scams and fraud can report their experiences here. The website also provides helpful information and advice on how to recognize and avoid scams.
  2. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
    • Website: ncsc.gov.uk
    • Description: The NCSC provides a platform to report suspicious emails, including phishing attempts which can occur through WhatsApp. They offer guidance on how to deal with potential cyber threats and scams.
  3. Citizens Advice
    • Website: citizensadvice.org.uk
    • Description: Citizens Advice offers practical, impartial information on how to deal with WhatsApp scams. They can guide you on the steps to take if you’ve been scammed and how to report it to the relevant authorities.
  4. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
    • Website: fca.org.uk
    • Description: If the scam involves financial services or products, the FCA is the right place to report. They also provide a list of known financial scams and advice on how to avoid them.
  5. Ofcom
    • Website: ofcom.org.uk
    • Description: While Ofcom does not directly handle scam reports, they provide useful information on how to deal with unwanted calls and messages, including those from WhatsApp. They also guide on how to use your phone’s blocking feature and other ways to reduce spam.
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With over three decades of experience in the heart of London’s financial sector, I have dedicated my career to the pursuit of robust cybersecurity practices and IT leadership. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

My journey in the field of cybersecurity has not only been about personal growth but also about sharing my insights with others. As an international speaker, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences worldwide, discussing the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age. My passion for knowledge sharing extends to my work as an author and blogger, where I delve into the complexities of cybersecurity, offering practical advice and thought leadership.

In my role as a CISO and Head of IT, I have overseen the development and implementation of comprehensive information security and IT strategies. My focus has always been on creating resilient systems capable of withstanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

My Master’s degree in Cybersecurity has provided a solid academic foundation, which, when combined with my practical experience, allows me to approach cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

I am always open to connecting with other professionals in the field, sharing knowledge, and exploring new opportunities. Let’s secure the digital world together.