WhatsApp 'hijack', sextortion, impersonation frauds warned by MHA think tank

    The Hawk
    January21/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    BPRD Issues Urgent Advisory on Rising WhatsApp Scams and Cyber Threats. Learn about the latest scams, including hijacking, impersonation, and sextortion. Follow the recommended security measures to protect yourself from online fraud.

    Representative Image of WhatsApp Using

    New Delhi: The police think tank, working under the Union Home Ministry has expressed concern, about the increasing number of scams on WhatsApp. These scams pose a risk of cybercrimes and financial fraud. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) has identified seven types of scams including tricks involving missed calls, video calls, job offers, investment plans, impersonation, hijacking and screen sharing.

    In the "hijacking" scam mentioned in an advisory issued by the BPRD scammers gain access to victims WhatsApp accounts. Request money from their contacts. The advisory also highlights cases of sextortion where hackers exploit compromising videos to blackmail users for money.

    The BPRD emphasizes that scammers often use missed calls with country codes from Vietnam, Kenya, Ethiopia and Malaysia. They employ "code bots" to identify users and target them for various cyber threats.

    In the impersonation scam fraudsters contact victims pretending to be ranking executives or officials. They gather information, from social media profiles to create replicas. Then they demand payments under the guise of matters or important meetings.
    Expressing concerns regarding the new 'screen share' feature introduced on WhatsApp the BPRD has highlighted instances where scammers have fraudulently gained access, to victims screens to carry out illicit activities. These scammers pretend to be officials from banks or government organizations and install apps or software compromising information like bank details and passwords.

    To prevent incidents the advisory recommends that users activate 'two factor authentication (2FA)' on their WhatsApp accounts. It also advises against answering unknown calls. Suggests reporting and blocking such numbers. The BPRD has informed WhatsApp officials about these breaches and various government bodies and ministries are actively addressing this issue.

    While cautioning against engaging with unverified communications on WhatsApp the advisory acknowledges that finding a comprehensive solution, to these problems is still being considered. Users are encouraged to remain vigilant and follow recommended security measures to safeguard themselves against cyber threats.