WhatsApp users are being warned to watch out for scammers who conned almost £25,000 out of people in Northamptonshire in just TWO MONTHS.
Action Fraud revealed 14 cases involving the popular messaging app were reported to police in the county during May and June involving average losses of £1,750 each.
In total, the WhatsApp scam has been reported to Action Fraud 1,235 times between February 3 and June 21 this year, costing users a total of £1.5 million.
PC Neil MacKenzie of the Northamptonshire Police Economic Crime Unit revealed the scam usually involves crooks contacting victims pretending to be a family member, typically starting conversations with ‘Hello Mum or Dad’.
They claim to be texting from a new mobile number as their phone has been lost or damaged, then ask for money to purchase a new device or pay an urgent bill.
Fraudsters supply bank details for payment, with some coming back on multiple occasions until the victims realise that they have been scammed and lost, in some cases, thousands.
PC MacKenzie added: “Fraudsters can and do send thousands of messages to potential victims every day and sadly they only have to catch a few people out to make it worth their while.
“We’re working hard to prevent people from being victims of frauds and scams and we would urge everyone to be vigilant of unexpected messages or calls which ask for personal information or money.”
“As with all fraud attempts, the criminals want you to act immediately and will try to quickly paint a picture which requires urgent action to ensure the victim acts on their emotions rather than take the time to reflect on what is happening.
“If you receive a message like this from a friend or family member, don’t send any money until you’ve had a chance to call them and confirm their identity. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.”
Police advise anybody receiving messages from a number they do not recognise to call it to confirm the person is who they say they are.