A WhatsApp scam that can cause users to lose access to their accounts and have their messages stolen is circulating among Australian users.
Yahoo Finance has confirmed that Australian users have received fake text messages that look like they are from an old contact asking for a six-digit ‘verification code’.
Users will see a text message from ‘WhatsApp’ stating a six-digit code, and another message supposedly from an old ‘friend’.
“Sorry I mistakenly sent you a 6-digit SMS code, can you send me? It is urgent,” the text may read.
But the text actually comes from an account that is already compromised, and sending over the code will hand over access to your account to the anonymous cyber criminal.
Earlier this month, a social media editor for the UK’s Daily Mirror warned about the scam in a tweet, saying three members of his family lost access to their WhatsApp accounts after falling victim.
WARNING: WHATSAPP SCAM
3 members of my family have lost access to their WhatsApp this morning!
Hackers send a text message from WA with a verification code, then a WhatsApp text from someone you know saying they desperately need the code.
DO NOT SEND THE CODE OR CLICK THE LINK pic.twitter.com/T8dqPydH3N
— Tommy Wathen (@tommywathen) May 18, 2021
When your account becomes compromised, the same scam is likely sent to the user’s contacts, perpetuating the scam.
"Anybody who receives a message out of the blue with a one-time PIN code should be extremely wary because this is how the attack starts,” ProPrivacy digital privacy expert Ray Walsh told The Express.
Scammers will often use a sense of urgency in their communications to manipulate people into taking action without thinking.
If you receive this or a similar message, users are advised to delete the message and not respond.
WhatsApp has two billion users across the world and is the most-used mobile messaging app in the world.
If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, you can report it to ScamWatch.