Local scammers are porting phone numbers and using WhatsApp to impersonate users

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There is a worrying new scam that is developing locally, as scammers are looking to take advantage of a user’s WhatsApp account in order to get their contacts to send money to them.

The new scam began surfacing on Twitter, where people detailed the events that occurred to them, and now Business Insider South Africa has begun reporting on the issue. Some of the more high-profile victims to date include Carte Blanche presenter Macfarlane Moleli.

Explaining the incident in the tweet above, Moleli says his Vodacom number has been ported over to an MTN account under a new SIM card without his knowledge, after which the scammer posed as Moleli to get one of his WhatsApp contacts to perform a cash send or money transfer.

Digging deeper into the scam, Business Insider says number porting has become an increasingly popular method among scammers in order to circumvent security protocols like One Time Pins (OTPs), which are often used to facilitate online banking transactions. The site has also found that eWallets are also proving a highly used method as it allows money to be “sent” to an ATM for withdrawal.

At this stage MTN, which is the network that the vast majority of reported portings have occurred on to date, has not issued a response to scamming claims.

While this is a developing story, and the extent of this new scamming method are unknown, it goes without saying that people with WhatsApp should improve the security measures on their devices, with a big step being to turn on “Show security notifications”.

This allows you to be notified when a contact’s security code has changed, which is a sign that a new device is now paired to the WhatsApp account.

Business Insider also has a few other tips and tricks to tell if a scam is afoot, so give its story a read here.

[Source – Business Insider South Africa]
[Image – Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.