Anywhere in the world, there’s a rise in the incidences of online scams involving identity theft, fraud, and blackmailing, among others.
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It is for this very reason that citizens all over the world must exercise due caution when conducting transactions online, and also when sharing information through online platforms such as Facebook and other similar apps like WhatsApp, as these are susceptible to data breach and may be taken advantage of by syndicates and fraudsters.
Police Warn HK Residents to be Wary of Scams on WhatsApp
In line with this, the Hong Kong police issued a warning to residents not to share their personal information, as well as details of their WhatsApp account to prevent the risk of their account from being hacked, as shared in a report by the Asia Times.
As per police data, in the first three months of 2019, there has already been around 152 individuals who fell victim to WhatsApp scams, losing a total of HKD 2.7 million (USD 344,169).
According to the data, nearly half of the victims were between the ages 41 and 60, while 17% of these figures were above 60 years.
In October 2017, the instant messaging apposed text messaging to send a six-digit code to help users verify the link between their mobile number as well as their WhatsApp accounts.
Scammers then found a way to take over several WhatsApp accounts, and pretended to be friends and relatives of WhatsApp users to dupe them into sharing their codes and passwords. Once the scammer had gained access to the users’ accounts through the use of the verification code, they can use the account to extort money from the users’ contact list asking for favours or financial support, among others.
To address this issue, the police urged WhatsApp users to activate their app’s two-step verification system to enhance their account security.
If this trend pushes through, scammers can not only solicit money from other users but even gain access to more sensitive information such as credit card and bank accounts, which could also be used to fund syndicates in their activities not only in the country but also in the region.
With the advancement in our technology today, it’s important that we not only secure ourselves from potential threats and attacks proliferating through the apps that we use and even on social media, but we must also do our part to inform others of the dangers and repercussions of falling to prey to these types of scams.