With WhatsApp fraud on the rise, Lloyds Bank has issued advice on how to avoid losing out to scammers.
Research by the bank revealed that WhatsApp fraud cases soared by 2,000% in the last year, leaving thousands of individuals out of pocket.
On average, victims have lost around £1,950 each, with fraudulent messages becoming ‘very personal’.
Lloyds Bank has therefore issued some helpful guidance to ensure customers do not fall victim to these ever-evolving scams.
The first thing to note is that fraudsters often pose as a family member who has lost their phone, referring to themselves as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ in order to trick unsuspecting relatives.
Victims will then receive messages that appear to be from a friend of family member asking for personal information, money or a pin number.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank said: “The story they tell varies but most often they will claim that because it is a new phone, they don’t have access to their internet or mobile banking account.
“Therefore, they need urgent help with paying a bill.”
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, has issued further advice to customers.
He said: “Never ever trust a message from an unknown number without first independently verifying the person’s identity, even if it claims to be from someone you know.
“Always insist on speaking to someone before sending any money.”
WhatsApp scams have become much more prominent over the past year.
During the pandemic, between 2020 and 2021, the total number increased twenty-fold, the bank’s research shows.
Ms Ziegler said: “Organised criminal gangs are always inventing new ways to dupe people out of their hard-earned cash.
“The emergence of the WhatsApp scam over the last year shows the depths to which these heartless crooks are prepared to sink.”
She added: “This is a cruel scam which preys on someone’s love for their family and friends, and that natural instinct we all have to protect those closest to us.
“With fraud on the rise it’s vital that people are aware of the warning signs and how to stay safe.”
Kathryn Harnett, policy manager at WhatsApp, told National World: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit pin code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security.”
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, you can contact Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111, start a live chat, or visit the website, all of which are available 24 hours seven days a week.