The Police would like to alert the public to two new variants of scam involving the takeover of WhatsApp accounts.
In earlier cases, the victim would receive a WhatsApp message from a friend or family member whose WhatsApp account has been compromised, requesting the victim to send over a 6-digit verification code sent to him or her. After providing the scammer with the 6-digit verification code, the victim would lose access to his or her WhatsApp account. While this modus operandi is still being employed by the scammers, the Police have observed two new variants of such scams.
The new variants are as follows:
- In the first variant, the victim would receive a WhatsApp message from the scammer impersonating as a support staff from WhatsApp. The scammer would inform the victim that someone had reported against the victim’s WhatsApp account, and the victim would need to verify the WhatsApp account by providing the 6-digit verification code sent to the victim. After providing the scammer the 6-digit verification code, the victim would lose access to his or her WhatsApp account. WhatsApp has clarified that they do not ask a user to share the 6-digit verification code.
- In the second variant, the scammer would deliberately fail the verification process by keying in the wrong 6-digit verification codes repeatedly when he is trying to log into a victim’s WhatsApp account on the scammer’s device. In the event that there are repeated failed verifications, WhatsApp would prompt the victim to perform a “voice verification”. WhatsApp would initiate the “voice verification” process by calling the victim’s phone number to provide the verification code in an audio message. If the victim ignores the call or if the phone is not switched on, the audio message would be directed to the victim’s voicemail account. The scammer would then seize the opportunity to access the victim’s voicemail account remotely by using the default PIN used by telco service providers to retrieve the 6-digit verification code from the audio message and take over the victim’s WhatsApp account. After taking over the victim’s WhatsApp account, the scammer could enable two-step verification to prevent the victim from regaining control over the WhatsApp account.
Members of the public are advised to adopt the following crime prevention measures:
- Never share your WhatsApp account verification codes with anyone;
- Beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by your WhatsApp contacts;
- Protect your WhatsApp account by enabling the ‘Two-Step Verification’ feature. This can be done by opening WhatsApp and go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Account’ -> ‘Two-step verification’ -> ‘Enable’; and
- Change your voicemail account’s default PIN to avoid easy access by scammers. If you have no use of the voicemail account, contact your telco service provider to deactivate the feature.
If you have information related to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Please dial ‘999’ if you require urgent Police assistance.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688. Join the ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes’ campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends. Together, we can help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from becoming the next victim.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
09 January 2021 @ 10:55 PM