Herts police warning following costly WhatsApp scams

Officers at Hertfordshire Constabulary, the City of London Police and Action Fraud have issued warnings about WhatsApp scams

Officers at Hertfordshire Constabulary, the City of London Police and Action Fraud have issued warnings about WhatsApp scams - Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Police in Hertfordshire are warning WhatsApp users to watch out for "friend in need" scams.

Detective Inspector Pete Hankins, of Hertfordshire Constabulary, said WhatsApp users should only respond to requests for help if they have met the sender.

DI Hankins' advice follows a national warning from Action Fraud and the City of London Police that false identity scams on WhatsApp have cost the UK public at least £1.5 million between February 3 and June 21, 2022.

He said: "It’s not difficult to pose as someone else on WhatsApp.

"People are not always who they claim to be.

"If you get a message from a number you do not recognise claiming to be someone you know and asking for money or personal information, it is best to pause and check that they are who they claim to be.

"We advise asking them to call you or meet you in person before acting on their request."

A "friend in need" scam takes place when a person tries to defraud social media users of their cash by claiming to be a close friend or family member of the victim.

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According to Action Fraud and the City of London Police, criminals will typically claim to be a family member and will often begin the conversation with "Hello Mum" or "Hello Dad".

They will often claim they need cash to replace a broken phone or to pay an urgent bill.

Some fraudsters will supply their bank details so that they can receive a payment, and may return until they victim realises they've been scammed.

Action Fraud received 1,235 reports of this type of scam between February and June 2022.

A statement from Action Fraud reads: "Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

"Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

"Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040."