Police issue alert over WhatsApp takeover scam

The police have issued a warning against scammers who attempt to take over WhatsApp accounts by first pretending to warn account owners about such scams.

The police yesterday said a scammer would first take control of a victim's WhatsApp account and post a fake screenshot of an account verification code request in a victim's chat group, under the pretence of alerting group members to the "takeover scams".

At the same time, the scammer would attempt to log in to the group members' accounts, causing them to receive verification codes on their own devices. This would trick them into posting screenshots of their own verification codes in the group, in order to share that they were also experiencing the "scam".

Once a member had posted his code, the scammer would use it to take control of his account.

Noting that such scams have been reported overseas, the police advised users not to share verification codes and to beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by contacts.

Users who receive such requests should call their friends to verify them, but should not do so using WhatsApp, as the accounts may have been compromised.

The police said users can protect their accounts by enabling the two-step verification feature, found under "Account" in the "Settings" tab of the application.

If a person's WhatsApp account has been taken over by a scammer, he can recover it by signing into the app using his phone number and a verification code which will be sent to his phone. Doing this will log the scammer out.

Those who wish to provide any scam-related information may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2019, with the headline Police issue alert over WhatsApp takeover scam. Subscribe