By: Hadiza Bagudu 7th November 2023
"I cannot believe that in this day and age, people are still falling for the popular WhatsApp scams such as: 'I am stuck somewhere, and I need your assistance. Send me money.' If you are one of those who don't know what it is or have never experienced such, it is a scam where you receive a message from someone you know, claiming that they have some kind of emergency and need you to send them money. Usually, this message is accompanied by a phone number in which you are supposed to send the requested sum, which is usually a specific amount. If you're not aware, you may feel sorry for the person and send the money, not realizing that you've just given money to scammers. These scammers typically hack a particular person's account and then send the same message to everyone on their contact list, which can be hundreds or even thousands of people. They seem to use an automatic messaging system that sends bulk messages to everyone on the contact list. Unfortunately, some people fall for it and send the money, only to find out later that it was a scam. They usually gain access to the account by sending a message to the main victim with a link. The message often appears to be from someone they know or, in my case, from my children's school, making it seem official. If you click on the link, they keep you on hold while they enter your account and make changes to lock you out, ensuring you no longer have access. They also change the email address, so even if you request a password change, the code will go to them. It's a very difficult situation to be in. In my experience, even when you contact WhatsApp, they may not reply, or they'll tell you that there's no way to prove that you're the real owner of the account and suggest going to your GSM service provider to disable your phone number. All of this takes a lot of time while the scammers continue to exploit your contacts. It's up to you to quickly warn everybody on your contact list to stop them from falling for the scam. The best thing is for everyone to be vigilant. These are hard times, so do not let anyone separate you from your money. I asked some of the people who gave out their money why they didn't call the person in question to confirm if they were the one before sending the money. If a person you know suddenly sends you a message requesting money out of the blue, your first instinct should be to call them first and find out if they're okay, right? Most of them replied that they feel shy to call and ask, and they don't want to make the person uncomfortable. After all, the person is already in an awkward position asking for money. You see, the scammers understand this sentiment very well and rely on that kind of discretion to carry out their scams successfully. We need to be more vigilant. Understand this, if you let anyone scam you out of your money, you're never getting it back. If you're relying on your friend whose account was hacked to feel responsible and pay you back, you're sorely mistaken. These are hard times, and everyone is feeling the pinch, even wealthy people are bombarded with requests for help and assistance. Just because you think they're rich, everyone else thinks the same. So, they don't have spare money to pay you back with. You have to be careful on your end. And these days, the scammers ask for a lot. Initially, it started on Facebook, where your account is hacked, and they ask for 20k, now it has moved to WhatsApp, and they're asking for anything between 50k and 300k. - SOME TECHNIQUES THE SCAMMERS USE TO GET HOLD OF AN ACCOUNT Some of the lies they use to get someone to click on their link include: 1. Hacking a school group account, then targeting the parents one by one, claiming to be from their children's school. It's very convincing, and I fell for that one. 2. Gifts and Winning: They may call to inform you that you've won something from a game or raffle that you didn't even participate in and that you should click on a certain link to claim your prize. As soon as you click on the link, it sends you to malicious software that takes control of your account. 3. Unknown number/call forwarding: You get an unexpected phone call from an unknown number. The fraudster persuades you to dial a number that activates call forwarding from your phone to a new number under their control. While you're on the call with the new number, the attacker attempts to access your WhatsApp account, opting to send a one-time password through a phone call, which is subsequently rerouted. 4. They may claim they are from WhatsApp, Facebook, or MTN, offering some kind of tech support because there is something wrong with your account, so you need to click on a certain link to rectify it. - HOW TO BE SAFE: 1. Never click on an unknown link. 2. Always call to verify before giving money. If possible, video call. 3. Use two-step verification on your WhatsApp. 4. Do not be greedy. If you didn't play any game, don't expect to win anything out of the blue. 5. Ignore and block unknown numbers. - IF YOUR ACCOUNT IS HACKED: 1. Block the number. 2. Contact WhatsApp and your GSM service provider. 3. Quickly reach out to and warn those on your contact list. 4. Reach out to your bank if you think your bank account has been compromised. Stay safe out there."
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Big thanks for being a part of my incredible journey. I'm Hadiza Bagudu, a mom, blogger, poet, author, and podcaster. Don't miss out on my other exciting blogs—I can't wait to share more adventures with you. Stay awesome!