Lloyds Bank issued a warning to people who use WhatsApp after the number of scams on the platform saw a massive increase in just one year.
WhatsApp is a popular choice for both one-to-one and group messaging for millions of people, but its popularity unfortunately also makes it a target for scammers.
Analysis released by Lloyds Bank determined WhatsApp scams are 'now the fastest growing form of impersonation fraud', with victims losing an average of around £1,950 each as the total number of scams reported as starting on WhatsApp soared by more than 2,000% between 2020 and 2021.
Lloyds explained that while fraudsters impersonating a bank, the police or an institution still account for 'the vast majority of reported impersonation fraud', there are an increasing number of cases in which the scammer pretends to be a loved one in need of help.
Scammers are said to start off by sending the same initial message to lots of different numbers in the hope they will receive a response. If they do, they then pretend to be a family member who lost their phone or who is messaging from a new phone, hence a new number.
Claiming to be 'Mum' or 'Dad' can be enough to convince recipients they are talking to a loved one, after which the scammers convince the WhatsApp user that they are in need of money.
⚠️ Scam Alert: 'Hi Mum, my other phone crashed. But this is my temporary number'.— Which? Money (@WhichMoney) January 7, 2022
If you receive a WhatsApp from an unknown number with someone claiming to be a family member, be very careful! 👇
Help us spread the word.
🔗 https://t.co/cfgXfiW1mn pic.twitter.com/v5curwtODr
"The story they tell can vary," Lloyds explains, "but most often they will claim that because it is a new phone, they don’t have access to their internet or mobile banking account, and therefore they need urgent help with paying a bill."
The bank warned users of this particular scam in January, though just last week one Twitter user described how their mum 'got a text from her 'son' saying that he’d lost his phone and this was the new number'.
"Reckon it was all part of the same scam," they wrote.
I got one of those. Put the number in contacts and checked out their profile pic on WhatsApp. No one I knew. At same time my mum got a text from her ‘son’ saying that he’d lost his phone and this was the new number. Reckon it was all part of the same scam.— DrabWilly (@DrabWilly) March 11, 2022
In order to help WhatsApp users stay safe on the platform, Lloyds has advised people to 'be wary of any messages you receive from numbers which aren't already stored in your contacts, even if it appears to be from someone you know', and to 'contact the person on the number you already have stored in your contacts to check if the story is true'.
If you can't get hold of the person the message claims to be from, the bank recommends 'insisting you speak to them before transferring any money'.
"Remember if it is a genuine family member or friend, they won’t mind you taking these steps to stay safe," the bank adds.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy