Sharp spike in WhatsApp fraud; Nearly 10,000 reports so far this year
The number of cases of WhatsApp fraud skyrocketed this year, according to figures from the Fraud Help Desk. Up until October 1, the help desk received 9,605 reports of WhatsApp fraud, almost four times as many as in the whole of 2019, AD reports.
A total of 1,154 people have fallen victim to WhatsApp fraud so far this year, amounting to 3.3 million euros in damages. Last year, this type of fraud caused over 1 million euros in damages.
WhatsApp fraud is often also referred to as 'friend-in-need fraud'. It usually starts with a message from a friend or family member from an unknown number, saying they urgently need money. They're in the grocery store without their debit card, for example. Or they have to pay rent but can't log into their online banking.
The majority of potential victims were able to spot the scam so far this year, with only about 12 percent actually transferring money. Many of the victims are over the age of 55, according to AD.
A simple way to confirm whether an unexpected request for money is a scam, is to call the person asking for money. Either call the number they're messaging from to see if you recognize their voice. Or call the number you have saved for them to find out whether you're really speaking to them.