Fraudsters pose as relatives of their victims by sending them “convincing” messages via WhatsApp. According to the bank, anyone could be targeted by this scam, so it is essential that its customers know what to look out for when approached by a fraudster. Lloyds’ latest intervention comes as Action Fraud reported that WhatsApp users lost a total of £50,000 between August and October 2021 in scams.
The scam watchdog has shared a real life example of how someone paid someone £2,000 by making a payment to someone they thought was their son after receiving a WhatsApp message.
In this case, the scammer claimed that he broke his phone, which is why he had a new number and needed a number of bills to get paid.
On its website, the bank shared a sample message of how scammers pretend to be family and friends of people they are targeting.
The message read: “Hi mom. She’s your beautiful daughter. I had to change my phone number.
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“Need your help. The bank has blocked my account. Can you pay a bill now? Please help me.
The number will always be the one the victim doesn’t recognize, with the fraudster providing some sort of excuse as to why.
Along with sharing this post, Lloyds has also provided advice on how people can avoid falling victim to this scam.
The bank recommends that once someone receives this message, they should not reply and simply delete it.
DO NOT MISS
If there is room for reasonable doubt, Lloyds recommends that you call your potentially impersonated family or friend to check if the WhatsApp message is real.
Louise Baxter, National Trading Standards Scams and Friends Against Scams team leader, said: “Many people can feel safe from scams.
“But these ‘Friend in Need’ scams are particularly effective because they exploit our kindness and desire to help our friends and family.
“Scammers send messages that appear to be from a friend or family member asking for personal information, money or a six-digit PIN.
“The messages are sent from your friends’ compromised accounts, so they appear to be from someone you know or an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been ‘locked out’ of their account.
“The growing number of cases shows why it is important for all of us to protect ourselves and our friends and families from scams.
“Always report suspected cases and take the free online training at friendsagainstscams.org.uk to help you take a stand against scams.”
Kathryn Harnett, Policy Manager at WhatsApp, explained: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption.
“But we want to remind people of other ways to protect their accounts and stay alert to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security.
“And, if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the quickest and easiest way to verify that someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.