Friend sent “Help me” text on WhatsApp? DO NOT respond

WhatsApp “Friend in Need” scam is duping people in the UK, as scammers pretend to be relatives. WhatsApp warns people, says call that friend to confirm.
By AMRITANSHU MUKHERJEE
| Updated on Nov 13 2021, 07:10 PM IST
WhatsApp Friend in Need scam on the rise in the UK, company asks people to call their friends instead.
WhatsApp Friend in Need scam on the rise in the UK, company asks people to call their friends instead. (Pixabay)

Scamsters find novel ways to cheat innocent people and their newest attempt in the UK involves WhatsApp. The popular messenger app from Meta is witnessing a “Friend in Need” scam that has affected a lot of users in the country. It is, in fact, serious enough that WhatsApp has warned people not to respond to “help me with money” texts, and call the person instead to confirm.

The "Friend in Need" scam on WhatsApp involves the scamsters pretending to be someone's relative. Victims get messages from their friends or relatives, asking for monetary help. The victim often tries to “help” at the earliest, thereby sending the money. However, the scamsters get away with the money and there's no way to track.

WhatsApp Friend in Need scam

“Scammers send messages that appear to come from a friend or family member asking for personal information, money or a six-digit pin number,” said Louise Baxter, the head of the National Trading Standards. The agency says that 59 percent of the people in the UK have already got this message. 

"If you receive a suspicious message... calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling," says WhatsApp as part of its latest awareness campaign.

How does this scam work?

WhatsApp is suggesting users to switch on the two-factor authentication system.
WhatsApp is suggesting users to switch on the two-factor authentication system. (Bloomberg)

You may wonder that WhatsApp has end-tp-end encryption technology; then how come are scammers able to hack your beloved ones' WhatsApp accounts? National Trading Standards, UK says that scammers are targeting those accounts who lost their phone, or unable to login in to their WhatsApp accounts. 

“The messages are sent from the compromised accounts of your friends, so they look as if they’re coming from someone you know, or from an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been ‘locked out’ of their account,” says the agency.

“These kinds of scams are particularly cruel as they prey on our kindness and desire to help friends and family,” they added. 

WhatsApp is also suggesting users to switch on the two-factor authentication system for logging into WhatsApp accounts for additional layer of safety. 

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First Published Date: 13 Nov, 07:10 PM IST
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