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Shocking Rise in WhatsApp Scams: Protect Yourself Now

Published by
WIlliam Dube

WhatsApp has emerged as a leading communication platform worldwide, boasting millions of users across the globe. However, this massive user base also makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals seeking to exploit unsuspecting individuals. In South Africa, WhatsApp scams have seen a significant surge, according to Stephen Osler, Co-Founder and Business Development Director at Nclose.

  1. WhatsApp scams have surged in South Africa, targeting users seeking deals, job opportunities, and even exploiting personal relationships.
  2. Common scamming methods include boss/team scams, business account scams, and family scams, all relying on deception and social engineering to defraud users.
  3. To minimize risk, users should restrict group additions, limit sharing sensitive information, treat WhatsApp like email, and implement company-wide policies for platform usage.

Osler emphasizes the importance of user vigilance when using WhatsApp, stating, “The biggest challenge with WhatsApp safety is ensuring that the person you’re interacting with is real, that they are who they say they are.” He adds that the rise in WhatsApp spam and scams has been particularly pronounced this year, with cybercriminals increasingly preying on users seeking deals or job opportunities, as well as those who are stressed, tired, or distracted.

Despite WhatsApp’s suite of security features, including end-to-end encryption, two-step verification, user reporting and blocking, and biometric lock and unlock capabilities, the platform is not impervious to cyber threats, particularly those that exploit user error. As a result, users must remain vigilant to protect themselves from a range of scamming methods.

  1. Boss/team scams: Cybercriminals impersonate company executives or staff members, tricking employees into purchasing vouchers, paying bills, or sending money under the guise of communicating with their superiors.
  2. Business account scams: Fake business accounts masquerading as legitimate companies seek to defraud users of their money. To determine a business account’s legitimacy, look for a grey question mark, indicating that the account has not been verified by the platform.
  3. Family scams: Scammers employ social engineering tactics to extract personal information from users. They may pose as someone with a wrong number, attempting to gather sensitive data that can be used to compromise personal or business accounts.

Other prevalent scamming techniques include sending fraudulent messages to parents, requesting money transfers to unfamiliar numbers while pretending to be their child in distress; sharing fake links designed to extract personal information; and hijacking, where fraudsters utilize another person’s phone to deceive their contacts.

To minimize risk, Osler recommends several precautionary measures:

  1. Restrict automatic group additions to prevent being added to unknown or malicious groups.
  2. Limit the sharing of sensitive information on WhatsApp, especially in a business context, to ensure compliance with regulations such as POPI and the Cyber Crimes Act.
  3. Treat WhatsApp with the same level of caution as email: avoid clicking on links, refrain from forwarding content, never share personal information with strangers, and always verify information.

Osler suggests implementing a company-wide WhatsApp policy to manage platform usage and routinely educating employees about potential security threats. By adopting these practices, users can continue to enjoy the benefits of WhatsApp while minimizing exposure to unnecessary risks.

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on

Published by
WIlliam Dube

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