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Scams in Messaging Applications


Scam attempts using messaging applications have become increasingly common. You must be careful not to become a victim of criminals.

There are two types of scams that are quite common:

1 - The criminal steals the user's account, posing as an employee of some known institution (e.g. bank, service provider, etc.) and convinces the user to give them the application's verification code, which is usually sent via SMS to the user's cell phone. With this code the criminal enables the victim's account on another cell phone, gaining access to the victim's entire contact list and, under certain conditions, to conversations on that account;

2 - The criminal searches for a user's data, be it information published on social media or leaks from other systems and creates an account using this data. The criminal then approaches the victim's acquaintances using the messaging app, claiming to have changed phone numbers.

In both cases the criminal impersonates the user, tries to trick their contacts, and asks for something, be it money or even information such as bank account and credit card numbers and passwords. Since they use a photo and a real username, many acquaintances and family members can end up falling for the scam.

Pay attention: if you receive messages asking for money or passwords, be suspicious! Try to get in touch by other means to confirm this request, either by making a video call, using other messaging applications, etc. But beware, if the phone has been stolen, you may be in contact with a criminal!

When you realize that it’s a scam, tell the account owner, acquaintances, and family members. Report and block the fake contact in the application! These options are available in the application itself. Check the developer’s page or go to the help menu to learn more. If your account was cloned or if you fell for any of these scams, gather all the evidence, such as screenshots of your profile and conversations, and go to the responsible authority in your region to file a report, which in some cases can be done online or by phone. If you gave money to the criminals, contact your bank to try to block the money transfers.

Other measures to be protected against this type of scam are to enable two-step authentication and never provide the application’s verification code (code that usually comes via SMS). If stores, banks, or service providers try to contact you, see if they’re verified institutions by the messaging apps, or contact them directly through the official channels.

Don't forget: if they’re impersonating you in a messaging application, try to warn your contacts; contact the application's support department to report or request blocking; try to verify any active sessions and log off; and file a report. It isn’t necessary to suspend the phone line if only the application is compromised.

Subject suggested by Beatriz Rossi Corrales

Video description

In the first scene, a man plays on his phone and receives a text message from his friend Joana saying “Hey! Can you lend me $ 5,000 in cash?”. Above him appears the phrase “Did you get a suspicious message from an acquaintance?”.

Right after the phrase “Suspect and investigate! It may be a criminal” appears. The man calls his friend's number, but the person who answers is a criminal impersonating her. The man wonders whether it’s really his friend.

In the third scene, the phrase “Confirm by video call or in person” appears. Then the man talks to his friend in person, showing her the suspicious message. She denies that she sent it, giving a thumbs down.

In the fourth scene, the man and his friend talk to a police officer in front of a police station. The man shows his cell phone to the police officer to report the scam, and above it the phrase “Report it if it's a scam!” appears.

Security Postado em 7/19/22


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