“Mamma, ho rotto il telefono” e altre truffe su WhatsApp: come difendersi thumbnail

“Mom, I broke my phone” and other scams on WhatsApp: how to defend yourself

Summer, also thanks to the holidays and a certain greater general distractibility, is the season in which – more than in any other – online scams of various kinds take root. From those linked to fake travel sites to those that promote imaginary competitions with mini fridges as gifts, just to take two examples.

In recent weeks, scams related to a specific case have multiplied on the various quick messaging chats (primarily WhatsApp). And they leverage in an astute (as well as subtle) way on… the credulity of their parents. Let’s see what it is, after which we make a dutiful review of the rules to follow to keep away from attempts to deceive on the net and on social platforms.

July 10, 2020, Brazil. In this photo illustration the WhatsApp logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

“Dad, I lost my phone” and other WhatsApp scams

No, it’s not a clumsy remake of “Mom, I missed my plane” but one of the incipits of the scams that are gaining ground on WhatsApp.

Just take a tour of social networks and on the subject there are various testimonials from parents. Which report the sentences arrived in the chat. Some examples: “Hi dad, my phone broke and this is my new number: xxxxxxx”. Or: “Hi Dad, this is my new phone number. Could you save it and send me a WhatsApp message when you’ve read it?” Or again: “Hi mom, the cell phone is broken. This is my new number. Send me a message? A thousand thanks”

In short: the form changes but not the substance. A son or daughter notifies one of the two parents that, due to a theft (but not necessarily), the telephone number has changed. And the communication closes with an invitation to send a message to confirm that you have saved the new number in the address book.

The request can also arrive by SMS, and in that case it shows a link to WhatsApp at the bottom.

The scam

What parent wouldn’t do what their son or daughter requires? Especially if, as in this case, the request appears more than legitimate.

The problem is, if a parent takes the bait, the conversation continues. And as soon as possible, the phantom son declares himself temporarily unable to make a transfer, precisely because of the new number. He therefore asks his father or mother to provide for him, with the promise to return the sum within a few days.

The relationship of trust

Yes, on the one hand there is parental sentiment, but on the other there should be common sense, even more pronounced (we’ll come back to this topic).

In fact, these types of messages hide new scams circulating on WhatsApp. Messages that are sent at random, even to those who have no children. And in that case it is very easy to smell the bad intentions and ignore the request.

Conversely, in the case of a parent, the scam is very similar to the one circulating some time ago, when the sender was (indeed, it seemed) his own bank. The scam plays on the relationship of trust: which bank or which child would lie? But if banking institutions never urgently request to click on a link via message, which child would ask (without signing) to send a message after losing their smartphone? Anyone who really loses a phone, or changes their number, simply communicates the new one, and at the very least asks for it to be saved in the address book.

“I miss you so much”

Already in April we told you about a similar version of the scam circulating on WhatsApp. At the time, the attempted deception relied not on the parent-child relationship but on the erotic-sentimental one with… no one knew who.

In fact, an undefined person wrote: “Hi, I haven’t contacted you for a long time. I don’t know if you still remember me, so I sent you a picture of me. I miss you so much. How are you? I switched to a new WhatsApp account and would like you to add my new WhatsApp account. We can connect better here.”

How to defend yourself

Of course: at a purely technical level, the indication is to never click on suspicious links.

More generally, however, the rule to follow is: chase away emotion, rely on rationality. Are you really willing to drop even several thousand euros on the fly if a child asks you for them? Even without ever having heard his voice? And even if, as in the case of these new scams on WhatsApp, the syntax of “his” messages from him is often shaky, and the elusive interlocutor does not answer any of our questions, but goes straight with his request?

We are in the same territory as fake news, and the invitation is the same. It is no longer possible – given the widespread use of devices by the entire population, from children to the elderly – to surf the Internet or access social networks without being literate.

Walker Ronnie is a tech writer who keeps you informed on the latest developments in the world of technology. With a keen interest in all things tech-related, Walker shares insights and updates on new gadgets, innovative advancements, and digital trends. Stay connected with Walker to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of technology.