WhatsApp scam damages quadruple in a year, topping million euro mark

Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram apps
Icons for the Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram apps displayed on a phone in 2018inkytapeDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Last year people in the Netherlands lost 1,056,805 euros to scams committed through WhatsApp, quadruple the 262,879 euros in damages sustained in 2018, NU.nl reports based on figures from the Fraud Help Desk.

In 2019, the Fraud Help Desk received 2,663 reports of WhatsApp fraud and 353 people actually fell victim to these scams, compared to 655 report and 124 victims in 2018. In the first two weeks of 2020, the hotline received 112 reports of scams and nine people reported falling victim to the scammers, losing over 38 thousand euros.

Scammers are becoming more clever in their deception, a spokesperson for the Fraud Help Desk said to NU.nl. The scam in which the perpetrator pretends to be a loved one or friend in need of money is still the most common. But where in the past scammers pretended to be a loved one with a new number, they now hijack already existing WhatsApp accounts.

The Fraud Help Desk therefore advises to always check the person's identity if you are messaged out of the blue with a request for money. Call the person, or ask them to send a video or voicenote.