Woman Lost Over $18K In Ingenious WhatsApp Scam, Thought She Was Helping A Friend in Need

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In case you missed it, WhatsApp scams are insidious and hard to detect.

Previously, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) issued an advisory about the re-emergence of WhatsApp scams.

Back then, it was mentioned that a person’s WhatsApp account was hacked into, and the scammer uses that account to scam their friends.

Because just like Facebook, if it’s coming from your friend, it instantly becomes 100x more trustworthy.

And now, a 55-year-old saleswoman fell victim to such a scam.

The Scam

On 13 Jan 2020, the saleswoman received a WhatsApp message from a friend, Doreen Tan, whom she has not contacted since 2018.

Tan told her Lazada has a special campaign running which will allow them to win vouchers.

She added that she’ll send a six-digit code to her.

A while later, Lazada got into contact with her and ask for the code.

Congratulations, Jackpot Time!

Imagine that you’re only expecting to win vouchers, and they tell you the prize is cold hard cash.

Image: Giphy

Yup, you’ll probably go, sweeeeeeeeeeeeet.

That was what this lady thought when Lazada told her that she has won $1,400 in cash instead of vouchers.

They said that they will transfer the money to her via credit/debit card.

Tan was happy for her and asked her to send over pictures of the front and back of her card. She claimed to have won the cash prize before.

Then Things Went Wrong

When the saleswoman got two One-Time Passwords (OTPs) from her bank, she shared them with Tan after assurance that no charges will be made.

Then, she received two messages from her bank, telling her that two charges, each worth $9836.10, were made to her card.


Holy, that’s $19.2k.

She finally checked Lazada’s website and realised that there wasn’t any campaign going on.

She tried to get her bank to cancel the transactions and the card. Unfortunately, the bank couldn’t stop the transactions as they were made with her OTPs.

Police Alerted To The Scam And Investigating

Unfortunately, money cheated from scams is hard to recover, especially when the scammers are likely to be overseas.

The police confirmed that they were aware of the incident and is conducting investigations into the matter.

Previously, SPF warned the general public about scams with fake Lazada campaigns on Instagram.


Some Rule of Thumb To Follow:

If you ever find yourself in the same position, you might want to stop and see if there’s anything fishy.

For one, weird English mistakes from a professional website like Lazada:

scam message
Image: STOMP

And two, no business will request for your OTP to transfer money to you. Usually, OTPs are used when you’re looking to send money out of the account, not in.

Remember, One-Time Passwords only work if they’re kept to one person: Yourself.


Other Good Tips To Follow:

a) Do not share your account verification codes with anyone;

b) Beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by your WhatsApp contacts;

c) Always call your friend to verify the authenticity of the request, but do not do so through the social media platform as the account might have been taken over by scammers; and

d) Protect your WhatsApp account by enabling the ‘Two-Step Verification’ feature, which is available under ‘Account’ in the ‘Settings’ tab of your WhatsApp application. This will prevent others from compromising your WhatsApp account;

e) In the event that your WhatsApp account has been taken over by a scammer, you can recover the account by signing into your WhatsApp using your phone number and authenticate by entering the verification PIN which you will receive on your phone. The scammer which is using your account will automatically be logged out thereafter.


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