WhatsApp users warned over 'friend in need' scammers trying to steal your money

WhatsApp logo on the App Store displayed on a phone screen and WhatsApp logo in the background are seen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on January 14, 2021. Signal and Telegram messenger apps gained popularity due to the new WhatsApp's privacy policy.
(Image credit: Getty)

Brits have been warned over a WhatsApp scam that sees fraudsters send out a phoney "friend in need" text message in order to steal your money.

The sneaky WhatsApp trick involves scammers sending out messages that appear to be from someone close to you requesting personal information, money, or your bank pin number.

However, these messages aren't from a loved one. Rather, they're sent from tricksters masquerading as people you know in an attempt to get their hands on your money.

Recently, a Bedford-based mother turned to Facebook to expose a convincing WhatsApp scam in which fraudsters pretended to be her daughter in order to steal money. The public have also been warned of a scary National Insurance scam in recent months, as well as a cruel mortgage scam that could end with you handing over your house deposit to criminals.

This "friend in need" scam also comes from unknown number, claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone and "locked out" of their account.

WhatsApp has teamed up with the National Trading Standards Agency to raise awareness on increasing fraud cases.

woman pouted lips looking at smartphone frustrated by received sms or notification, bad news reading on cell phone feels upset, waiting message from boyfriend, negative response concept.

'Stop. Think. Call.' is a campaign designed to educate potential victims about scams and how to protect themselves and their WhatsApp accounts.

According to Louise Baxter, head of the National Trading Standards frauds unit and Friends Against Scams, "friend-in-need" scams have been growing in recent months, noting, "These kinds of scams are particularly cruel as they prey on our kindness and desire to help friends and family.

"Scammers send messages that appear to come from a friend or family member asking for personal information, money or a six-digit pin number.

"The messages are sent from the compromised accounts of your friends, so they look as if they’re coming from someone you know, or from an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been ‘locked out’ of their account. These kinds of scams are particularly cruel as they prey on our kindness and desire to help friends and family."

Research has revealed that people under the age of 34 are much more likely to choose text-based communication over phone calls, therefore, more vulnerable to scams.

Messaging sites including WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption to safeguard its customers' personal conversations, but it wants to remind users that they can help keep their accounts safe by staying vigilant against scammers.

WhatsApp policy manager Kathryn Harnett, suggests, "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 receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it is from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling."

Kudzai Chibaduki
Features Writer

Kudzai Chibaduki joined Future as a trainee news writer for Good To, writing about fashion, entertainment, and beauty. She's now a freelance fashion wardrobe stylist and helps direct magazine photoshoots.