The cloned WhatsApp scam is a trick criminals use to steal money through the app. In this type of fraud, scammers take possession of the victim’s account by activating it on another phone and pose as the owner of WhatsApp to trick contacts. Although the scam is not new, criminals constantly change their approach to attract new victims. Below, learn how to identify if your WhatsApp has been cloned and what to do to recover your account. Also, here are tips on how to protect yourself from cloning.
How does WhatsApp cloning work?
WhatsApp cloning features several approaches, which are even sophisticated from time to time to attract new victims. The scam uses social engineering to convince the person to pass on the WhatsApp activation code and thus steal their account.
Using a fake identity to give credibility to the victim, the scammer asks for a supposed verification code sent via SMS which is the activation code of the messenger account that allows the user to access WhatsApp from another phone. Then the criminal contacts friends of the victim to ask for money.
What is the difference between cloned WhatsApp and account theft?
A WhatsApp is cloned when a cybercriminal takes possession of the victim’s account without the victim’s knowledge. The scammers gain access to the user’s real messenger account on another phone and can receive and send messages to the victim’s WhatsApp contacts.
In account theft, the criminals do not need the activation code of the app to impersonate the victim. They use purchased personal data, such as phone numbers, addresses, profile pictures, and referrals of people close to them to create a fake profile of the victim. The initial approach, in this case, is to say that the cell phone number has been changed.
In both scams, the objective is the same: to trick the victim’s contacts into borrowing money with the excuse of emergencies or invented setbacks.
What to do when WhatsApp is cloned?
There are a few things you can do when your WhatsApp is cloned. One is to tell your friends and contacts on other social networks about the scam so they do not get scammed. These people can also help you report the cloned WhatsApp. The procedure is to tap on the contact’s name and then go to “Report Contact”.
It is also possible to contact the tech support of the messenger to report the problem and block the cloned WhatsApp. In this case, the victim can go to the “Help” tab (located in the settings of the app) and in “Contact Us” describe the problem in detail. Once this is done you have to wait for the messenger team to get back to you with a solution. You can also contact the support via e-mail at “email@example.com” (without quotes).
How do I know if my WhatsApp is cloned?
Paying attention to a few details can help you know if your WhatsApp has been cloned. In this case, check if unviewed conversations are marked as “read” (with the blue check icons). Also, check the active sessions in WhatsApp Web through the app. Under “Connected Devices” you can see which devices your account is logged into. If you do not recognize any movement, a criminal may have access to your account.
Always be suspicious if a person or company asks you to enter numbers received via SMS since the PIN code for WhatsApp is sent via SMS. Remember: this information should not be shared with anyone.
How to protect yourself from the cloned WhatsApp scam?
WhatsApp is constantly being targeted by cybercriminals. That is why it is important to follow some expert recommendations to keep your account safe. The first guideline is to enable two-step verification. The feature adds an extra layer of security to the messenger because the six-digit password is required every time you enter your phone number into the app again. So even if you submit your activation code, criminals will not be able to access your account without the personalized password.
To do this simply go into WhatsApp “Settings” and go to “Account”. Then tap on “Two-Step Verification” and follow the onscreen instructions to create a six-digit PIN.
To avoid being fooled by the cloned WhatsApp scam, if you are suspicious of any messages from friends and contacts, try talking to the person via another social network or make a call to confirm their identity.
If profiles of stores or companies contact you via social networks, confirm that the profile has the verified seal. Also be wary of ads that offer promotions with absurd discounts or free products, as they may be fraudulent ads.
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