You’re on WhatsApp all day long, sending texts, chatting, and sharing media with friends. After all, WhatsApp is intuitive, and we all love it. And with plenty of nifty features currently rolling out, you’ll want to get more out of WhatsApp on your iPhone or Android phone.
Despite these ingenious features that make messaging a breeze for users, the Facebook-owned messaging app has become an irresistible ground for fraudsters. This isn’t a surprise given its vast customer base, which as of now stands at over 2 billion active users and counting.
WhatsApp has quite often claimed that it uses end-to-end encryption to keep your messages private. But is it really that secure? Not really. Time and again, the messaging platform has maintained that all messages exchanged on the app are visible only to the sender and receiver, not even tech whizzes at WhatsApp.
If WhatsApp takes end-to-end encryption as seriously as it brags about, why did we see leaked WhatsApp chats of several Bollywood media personalities? These anomalies in its app have raised questions around WhatsApp’s security and privacy
Cyber-security experts recently discovered scary vulnerabilities in the messaging app. According to them, the loophole in the app’s encryption is simple. Hackers are targeting just a fraction of WhatsApp users by hijacking their accounts and demand for ransom later on.
It’s an extremely distressing experience that leaves us feeling upset, stupid, and embarrassed. I could slap myself if I imagine this, but that won’t help.
Settle in because I’m about to take you through WhatsApp hacks and how to protect yourself in 2022.
What Can a Hacker Do With Your WhatsApp Account?
With the ever-changing technology, scammers today are increasingly using sophisticated methods to gain access to your WhatsApp activities. This malicious act results in identity theft, fraud, and data breaches.
Personal stories of all these events demonstrate that no one is immune to cyber threats. If your WhatsApp account falls into the wrong hands of black-hat hackers, here is what they’re capable of doing.
A hijacker pretends you’re having a crisis and asks your contacts for money. Users are falling for this “simple” scam. A scammer uses a common trick – pretending to be a victim’s acquaintance and asking your contacts to send money.
The perpetrators pretend to be in urgent need so that victims take immediate action.
Scammers can message your friends/family and pretend to be you. A common case is when they pose as family members or friends, aiming to seek financial help. Most of them claim to be in an emergency and urgently need cash. Others will communicate with you for a while. Within weeks they’ll profess their love to you. If you’re not aware, hijackers will take your family to the cleaners.
They access your contacts’ phone numbers so they can try the six-digit code trick with new victims. That’s how they lure men and women into being their victims.
With stolen accounts, hijackers can also remain in group chats you’re in. Meaning they can access sensitive data, manipulate the information, and interrupt the communication between parties through MITM attacks.
Scammers use hijacked accounts to send malicious requests to your previous account’s contacts. This results in your account being blocked.
9 Common WhatsApp Hacks
While messaging apps usage has increased by around 40 percent due the Coronavirus outbreak, cases of WhatsApp hacks have risen more than ever. Hackers have gotten once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to exploit vulnerable devices and users.
If you have not been a victim of WhatsApp hacks, then you’re fortunate to escape serious data infiltration and money loss to hackers. Let’s dig into the most common WhatsApp hacks.
1. 6-Digit Verification Code Received Without Requesting one
Beware of this WhatsApp verification code that you receive without expecting it; otherwise, you may fall prey to the scammers. Also known as verification OTP, a 6-digit code is a requirement when:
Setting up a new WhatsApp account or,
Logging in your already existing WhatsApp account to a new device
This code authenticates an account at the time of setup. If you receive the code by text or email without requesting one, you should see it as a red flag. You’re likely to be a target of a scammer posing as a friend.
Next, you’ll get a message from a fraudster asking about the code they apparently sent to you by mistake. The message appears to come from a legit person since your account is already hacked.
As per several reports, the victim receives a message that reads, “Hello sorry, I sent you a 6-digit code via SMS by mistake, can you send it to me, please? It’s urgent.
The perpetrator behaves as a friend here. You should not give away any 6-digit code, especially if you haven’t initiated it yourself.
When the attackers complete an account takeover, they’ll capture contacts of members in your group and ask for emergency funds from your friends while they pretend to be a friend of yours.
Attackers decide to try a six-digit code scam with new victims as well. Who would question an urgent request from trusted friends?
Cybersecurity experts have warned WhatsApp users against this devious scam. They go on to say, “social-engineering hack can be easy to execute and just simple to prevent.”
This kind of phishing attack continues to catch a lot of people out.
Action to take: Turn on two-step verification right away. You’ll find it under Settings – Account on the app. The process takes 30 minutes to set up. It makes absolute sense to add a layer of privacy.
2. Hacked Version of WhatsApp
WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption enabled but doesn’t stop scammers and hackers from intercepting your activities. A dangerous WhatsApp scam has been spotted over the last month.
A team of white-hat hackers warned about using a dodgy version of WhatsApp (WhatsApp ‘mod’) a few months ago. It’s reported that the chatting app exposes its users to fraudsters.
FMWhatsApp, an unofficial WhatsApp messenger, allowed you to use additional features, but this seemed to infect your phone with intrusive malware. The type of malware downloaded to smartphones is called Trojans.
Trojans will wreak havoc on your smartphone by spying on your messaging activities or signing up to exorbitantly billed subscriptions without your consent.
According to researchers, the malware can launch pop-up ads, intercept your chats, and purchase subscriptions. The WhatsApp mod claims to have some features that allow for not only greater customization but also security.
The masterminds behind the WhatsApp mods are unknown – they aren’t associated with Facebook. The meta-owned company has put users on notice about these WhatsApp versions.
If you don’t want to fall victim to such scams, you should only download the original messaging app from reliable sources – the official app stores.
Because the vast majority love the most full-featured version, they may opt for modified versions with more features than the official one. FMWhatsApp isn’t available on Google app stores, so you have to get it from a third-party website.
Did you install it? Check and delete it right now. To avoid all this drama, make sure to get your WhatsApp from the official app stores.
3. Scammers Impersonate Family Members to Steal Money
While you enjoy masking your’ last seen’ time on WhatsApp, a warning has been issued about an emerging scam on WhatsApp, where scammers are impersonating families to steal money.
How it works; This scam sees tricksters pose as family members to try to fool you into actually sending money or buying gift cards. They say they need some bucks to get out of trouble.
We’ve had good examples of a family emergency scam. Here’s one;
Alison, a member of the public, received a message on WhatsApp; Hi mum (in this case, the victim), I have lost my phone, this is my new number.
In response to Alison’s question, “is this my son?” the scammer replied yes affirmatively. The following day, Alison’s son (scammer) messaged her and requested £2,600, claiming he was a victim of loan sharks and needed to pay up.
Sadly, Alison didn’t bother to check out whether the message was genuine at that moment. When she called her son back, the person ignored the call insisting they couldn’t take the call but coaxed her to send money quickly.
Alison was really concerned, so she decided to make the payments. The scammer gave the bank details for her to pay. Happily, Alison forgot to click the final step that would otherwise authorize the payment. After some time, the person reached out to Alison via a message asking for a picture as proof of funds.
Alison looked skeptical just in time. It was later discovered that this was all a WhatsApp scam. If a text message arrives on your phone out of the blue, always be doubly, especially if money is involved.
Always slow down and verify. As we can see, Alison did the right thing, but scammers are very skilled. Some may have scouted you, so they already know a lot about you. They may know your personal information through social media sites.
Most family emergency scammers target older adults and pressure them to wire money quickly. Probably your Grandpa.
4. Fake Delivery WhatsApp Scam
Geeks at antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab are urging the public to be alert amid a fake delivery WhatsApp scam. “You should be on your guard when opening links sent to you”.
This is how it works; scammers typically pose as executives from online delivery stores. They ping you with a message containing a malicious link informing you about the package to be delivered. When you click on it, you’re taken to a dodgy website.
What follows is that the victim is urged to pull out a credit card, bank details, or other sensitive information.
Just as with compensation fraud, if you’re not careful, you risk being robbed of your bank and exposing your private data. Researchers point out that this scam has gained popularity since the pandemic checked in. It makes sense since most remote workers now rely on home deliveries.
WhatsApp users should always check links before interacting with them. You should also consider installing a comprehensive security solution to curb the latest threats.
This is likely to happen if you don’t remember anything about your online orders. Be mindful that no company will ever ask for payment to secure your online deliveries.
When you order something from an online store like Amazon, you’re always aware of what you purchased and when the package will be delivered to your doorsteps.
The scam has been doing the rounds this past quarter. Check out this simple scam.
5. WhatsApp Gold
In this era of the global pandemic, WhatsApp has become an unsung hero, but scammers found a new way to suck your money.
WhatsApp Gold is another fast-rising and most consistent hoax. The hoax message offers you an exclusive invitation to download a fake premium version of the app (WhatsApp Gold). It’s claimed that a number of rich people and celebrities use it for hidden agendas.
The scam first hit the headlines in 2016 but has been reappearing time and again – its latest pop-up was in 2020.
It’s recommended that any message you receive notifying you to upgrade to a new version of the messaging app is utter rubbish. It should be ignored.
According to the victims, it starts with this text message “Hey, Finally, Secret WhatsApp golden version is here, big celebrities use this version. Now it’s available for us too.” Such a message will often send you into a panic.
The link sent allows you to download WhatsApp, but you’ll download viruses and malware – in the real sense. Sometimes the message goes on to read, “If you know anyone using WhatsApp, you can pass on this”
If you receive the link, just delete it immediately. Be wary of reacting to a message that promises something extra. The scam is meant to dupe WhatsApp users into thinking there’s a new version that offers far-reaching features than the one you’re having.
6. Martinelli Video
An IT college advises that if you find a video whose source is from WhatsApp called Martinelli, don’t open it. The hack is severe and can format your mobile device. Sadly, nothing can fix it.
The message has two parts. First, the scam will hack your phone. The second part suggests that it is somewhat related to the WhatsApp Gold scam. The wording shows it’s a genuine scam by scammers who have attempted to steal money from the users for the past years.
Nobody knows what Martinelli video is since there’s no evidence such a video exists, nor does it format your phone. But there’s a possibility it will infect your iPhone with malware. Be careful.
Before Matrinelli started, the name just appeared like any other surname. The name itself is mysterious, though.
But don’t sign up for any new version of WhatsApp. Also, all links sent to you are fake, designed to capture your private data. There are follow-up messages from hackers asking for money and further information at times.
They even send nefarious attachments to cause havoc on mobile phones – like what they did to Jeff Bezos. If you come across a message that requests you to ‘pass it on,’ just resist.
You should validate the message with the sender before doing anything else. It will be absurd if any malicious actor manages to extract your sensitive data.
A WhatsApp hack as this is very rare, but it doesn’t harm to be cautious. Make sure you download WhatsApp from official sources.
7. WhatsApp Is Closing Down
This is by far the most common scam that regularly asks you to forward the message to other people (maybe 10 or 20 people), or the service will be stamped down.
WhatsApp enjoys 2+ billion users, and it won’t notice the number of text messages you send through its service. WhatsApp isn’t about to close down any time soon, so this is a scam.
Another message suggests that the messaging app has had an over usage of usernames on the app. The message goes this way; From Jim Balsamic (WhatsApp CEO), “We got too many WhatsApp users, and your account will be closed if it remains inactive for 1 month, please forward this message to your entire contact list.”
If you don’t start using it, your account will read invalid. It will then be suspended in the next two days.
The scam claims that if you don’t take quick action, WhatsApp you’ll no longer be recognized. Even further, you’ll apparently have to pay an activation fee of $25.
WhatsApp has grown to be one of the free messaging services. It even states on its official website, “we don’t charge any subscription fees.”
“Inactive WhatsApp users will have to pay” Really? The Facebook-owned company isn’t desperate for cash. Sending messages to 10 people as requested isn’t a measure of loyalty to WhatsApp, nor does it prove that you’re an active member.
Please keep in mind this is very much a scam, and there’s no truth to it. If such a message arrives on your phone, run.
8. Supermarket WhatsApp Scams
Scammers are sending out counterfeit vouchers via WhatsApp. You’ll see these messages every time we’re approaching festive holiday seasons where sales are common.
The messages look convincing. They look like a friend has sent them to you, but they’re meant to trick you into clicking the link, thinking you’ve won the voucher.
Users who’ve already been targeted say the scam works like this; Hi, Tesco is giving away a $250 Free Voucher to celebrate happy holidays season, click here to get it. I got mine.”
Nothing like that. In most cases, the URLs mentioned don’t exist on the supermarket’s website. They show that the page doesn’t exist.
Other links take you to a survey page (questionnaire) that asks you to answer some questions regarding your personal information. This is completely a scam. All they want is to steal your data. The worst that can happen is that your bank balance can be robbed after giving away your credit card details.
Advanced WhatsApp users are also falling victim. After all, who doesn’t want a voucher and shop for free?
9. Rediroff.com” or “Rediroff.ru” Scam
Be careful while replying to unknown DMs. The new scam named “Rediroff.com” or “Rediroff.ru” on the platform may steal your personal information like the bank, credit card and CashApp details. This fraud is being circulated by we WhatsApp users ourselves.
Users circulate a WhatsApp link (external link) with the aforementioned address. Once you click on the link, a user-friendly interface lures you by informing you about a giveaway prize or promising an expensive gift.
After that, the scammer asks you to share the link with more people in exchange for an assured bonus. As soon as you’re on the web page, the page collects your sensitive data, including the device’s name, your searches, IP address, and private profile details like name, email ID, age, and social security number.
Scammers are even smarter. The links may ask for different details – while one asks you to fill the questionnaire with your personal information, the other asks you to share the link with other users.
Another active scam involves the WhatsApp users being bombarded by random messages from unknown persons that go this way “sorry, may I know who this is.”
When you reply, the person initiates conversation, tricking you into exposing your private information such as name, occupation, work address, social media handles, and driving license.
These details are used in multiple ways to achieve intended malicious deals. If you value safety, ignore these links.
How to Protect Yourself from WhatsApp Hacks and scams
It’s paramount to know the tell-tale signs of aWhatsApp scam, but it’s also important to do your part. Don’t respond when it’s too late. You can stay safe in this world of scams by following these guidelines;
Be mindful of what you share. Never share your pin, password, or security codes with anyone – not even your family members or friends.
Set up 2-step verification. It adds a layer of protection to your WhatsApp accounts.
Be cautious about messages asking for money. Double-check who is contacting you before sending money. If the number is new, incorrect or suspicious, just ignore it.
You can hide your last seen, status, and a profile photo with these options – Everyone, my contacts, nobody.
Turn off read receipts – doing this means you won’t receive read receipts.
Report or block problematic contacts and messages
Don’t view or share attachments from unknown senders
Download your WhatsApp app from official sources. On the same line, keep your app up to date
Install a reliable antivirus app that can defend your devices from viruses/malware
Attention: The guide is purely educational. We don’t encourage or condone illegal hacking. Do your due diligence as you will be solely responsible for the doing.
Suppose you’ve been looking to hack someone’s WhatsApp messages with a trace, then this guide is for you. Let’s find out.
How to Hack WhatsApp without Access to the Targets Phone
You can spy on WhatsApp messages without touching a target phone. Several phone monitoring apps can help you track or access your husband’s messages for free.
Apart from applying spy apps, a hacker can read your WhatsApp messages without your phone through Google Drive Backup. As you may know, all messages, videos, photos are saved on the phone’s drive account for backup.
But for a hacker to access the messages, you must have synchronized your Android device with Google Drive in the first place.
How to Hack WhatsApp on Chrome
You can hack WhatsApp messages using a web browser (chrome) without any hassle. Simply put, use chrome to log in to your target’s WhatsApp account using a QR code.
Here is how to do it:
Type web.WhatsApp.com on your web browser.
To use WhatsApp on your computer, your target’s WhatsApp account should be active at that time.
Tap the Menu icon on WhatsApp (top-right hand corner).
Point the phone to the screen to scan the QR code presented to you.
Scan the code. That’s it.
You don’t need to repeat this so long as the target doesn’t reinstall a new account with a new number
How to Hack WhatsApp with Spy apps
You can use various spy apps, including CocoSpy, mSpy, Flexispy, iMyFone and more. Out of all apps, the CocoSpy app for WhatsApp monitoring is the most popular and powerful spy tool you can rely on.
CocoSpy app not only allows you to gain access to WhatsApp messages but also maintains detailed logs. You’ll be able to see the text messages from your contacts, the phone’s GPS location, the call duration, and who the target is calling.
One fascinating feature of this app is the ability to monitor social media without jailbreaking or rooting the mobile device. Once the app is set, you’ll see all messages your contacts have been sending and group chats too.
In addition, you can unmask shared videos and photos together with the information about the telephone numbers your target is getting in touch with.
Register for a CocoSpy account on their website. Android users need to install the app first. For iOS targets, the process is pretty easy. CocoSpy iOS operating system solution is cloud-based.
With the iCloud credential of the Apple account, just get your hands on the username and password. You’re done!
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you’ve been a victim, WhatsApp scams are doing the rounds. I’ve been a victim of a WhatsApp hoax – it’s indeed unsettling. Well, WhatsApp has completely replaced SMS, but you should be cautious.
If you get a text message from your friend asking for money, a six-digit code, or a request to share a link, don’t rush. Call to verify. The best thing is to report any message that looks suspicious.
Most of us are exposed to phishing messages and scams every now and then. It boils down to how careful you are when interacting with them.