Scammers take over WhatsApp accounts to get bank card details

At least 18 reports of such scams using compromised WhatsApp accounts have been made since Dec 2019. Similar tactics have previously been reported on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - Scammers have been taking over WhatsApp accounts and contacting the account owners' friends, asking them for images of their credit or debit cards, the police said on Wednesday (Feb 19).

At least 18 reports of such scams using compromised WhatsApp accounts have been made since December last year.

In such a scam, victims receive a WhatsApp message supposedly from a friend, requesting the victim to send over a six-digit verification code.

However, this message has been sent by scammers who had taken over that WhatsApp account.

The victim would lose access to his WhatsApp account, which is linked to his mobile phone number, after providing the scammers with this six-digit verification code. WhatsApp requires this code when someone registers a mobile phone number for a new phone or device.

Using these compromised WhatsApp accounts, scammers would then impersonate the first victim and message his contacts, asking for their contact numbers and images of their credit or debit cards on the pretext of helping them sign up and claim prizes for fake lucky draws supposedly conducted by online stores Lazada, Shopee or Qoo10.

These next victims are then told to share their one-time password (OTP), which authorises transactions on those cards.

Similar tactics have previously been reported on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

The police have reminded people to never give anyone their personal information such as bank account or card details, or OTP. They should also never share their WhatsApp account verification codes, the police said, or their accounts could be compromised.

Be wary of unusual requests from strangers or even your social media contacts, the police added.

People should also check the official websites of online shops to make sure that lucky draw offers cited in the messages are real.

To provide information about such scams, people can call the police on 1800-255-0000 or submit an online form at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.