There is an infestation of WhatsApp hackers who are sending a message that reads:
“Hello I’m sorry I sent you a six digit code by SMS by mistake can you transfer it to me it’s urgent”
I don’t think we need to mince words here, this is just downright sinister. WhatsApp is the biggest messaging platform in the country and people use it to communicate with friends, family and in the COVID-19 era, it has become a vital digital channel for businesses.
The people behind this racket want to take over your account so they can use it for “God knows what”. An example of what something like this can be used for was the US$100 million EcoCash WhatsApp fiasco. Scammers were replacing people’s sim cards and hijacking their WhatsApp accounts.
They would then go into that person’s group and defraud family, friends and associates through supposed forex deals. What the purpose of this WhatsApp hack is for is unclear. Similarly, we don’t know how long this has been going on. But we have been able to identify a potential source where the hackers could be getting the phone numbers from.
Group messages is probably where this is coming from
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has WhatsApp on their phone and they don’t aren’t in any sort of group be it a private one or one that is filled with strangers.
The latter in this case is the problem. In a group filled with people you don’t know, you are more likely going to encounter someone who might send you a message like the one mentioned earlier.
How to protect yourself
On the admin’s side of things, the only thing that you can do is monitor the group’s activity closely. If you can, it’s probably best to be selective with who you let into the group. Having someone in the group that can vouch for the new member could help funnel out the bad apples.
On the normal group member’s end, if you encounter a message like this you need to remember one very important thing. A verification code is like a password and the only time you will ever receive one is if you yourself are making changes to your WhatsApp account.
If anyone sends you a message asking for a six-digit code they sent you by mistake, then you should immediately be suspicious. The best course of action is to:
The most essential thing that you can do for your own account is to enable two-step authentication. This will fortify your WhatsApp account with a passcode or a biometric requirement like a fingerprint or Face ID. You can find the instructions on how to do that with the link here.
- Tap on the contact that sent you the message and check what affiliation you have with that person if it a number that you don’t recognise.
- If they are in a public or private group that you are in you should immediately notify whoever runs that group to remove them.
- You should also block that number so that they cannot contact you again.
- Lastly, report that number to WhatsApp so that they can have that account suspended. You can find out how to do that in the link here
Be very careful if you get this message from someone you know
I think it’s important to mention that you should be even more careful if you receive this message from someone you know. People we know are usually our blind spot and we are less likely going to ask questions or take the appropriate steps.
If you get a message like this from someone you know you should call them and tell them off. You can include the phrase “I was not born yesterday” with my blessing.
In saying that if it does come from someone you know, then it’s very likely that they have been hacked and you should notify the closest person to them so that they are aware, if they aren’t already.
You can find a guide to reclaiming your account with the link here
If they don’t know then you should ask if they have any reception on their phone. The EcoCash WhatsApp scammers went about their racket by doing sim replacements and this then left the owner of the line without any network bars/reception on their phone.
If they don’t have any network then they should immediately contact their service provider. Going to an outlet is probably for the best so that you can talk to someone who can help you more directly. You should remember to take your identification document to expedite the user verification process and reclaim your line.
It is also prudent to ask the attendants to check your EcoCash account to see if there has been any unauthorised activity.