Scams involving cloned WhatsApp are increasingly common, and crooks use different methods to hack accounts in the messenger for Android and iPhone (iOS). One of the procedures most used by criminals is to illegally access the victim's conversations and impersonate her to ask for money from relatives and friends, who are instructed to make deposits in third party accounts. To gain access to the victim's cloned WhatsApp, fraudsters take over the messenger's activation code, sent by SMS to the user's cell phone.
READ: How to clone WhatsApp? Understand the dangers of the scam and know how to protect yourself
Other ways to apply these scams involve stealing data on sales sites, using the names of famous artists, or practicing cloning the number with telephone operators. Another possibility is the use of spy apps, the so-called stalkerwares, which can mirror all of the victim's conversations. Check out, below, four types of scams used by bandits to make a cloned WhatsApp and learn how to protect yourself.
Cloned WhatsApp: thugs use different methods to hack an account Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / TechTudo
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1. Theft of website data
This scam takes advantage of information published on sales sites, such as OLX and Zap Imveis. Scammers contact the victim by posing as representatives of these platforms and report that the profile has received complaints regarding an advertisement.
Then they ask the person to confirm their number by providing the code sent by SMS at this time, the crooks try to log in with the victim's WhatsApp number on another cell phone. The user then receives a text message with the validation code and passes it on to criminals, who now have full access to their conversations and groups.
From then on, fraudsters get in touch with friends and relatives, telling stories that usually involve the urgent need for a bank deposit, made in an "orange" account, with the promise to return it soon.
Messages sent by criminals to try to steal the user's authentication code and make a cloned WhatsApp Photo: Reproduo / Kaspersky Lab
As it is a method that does not use fraudulent programs, it is recommended that the user be aware of contacts received on behalf of these companies and be suspicious of unusual validation procedures. WhatsApp informs itself that the numeric key should not be shared with third parties.
2. Scam using famous names
In this scam, recently discovered by Kaspersky experts, a thug calls the victim posing as organizer of a VIP show or event, offering free tickets on behalf of celebrities like Zeca Camargo or Preta Gil, for example.
Then, he says he sent the ticket validation code by SMS and asks the user to pass the numbering, which is the confirmation code for his WhatsApp login. With the numbering in hand, the criminal will have access to the victim's conversations and continue with attempts to steal money from his contacts, using the same trick as the aforementioned scam.
Kaspersky also identified an evolution of this scam: as soon as the crooks get cloned WhatsApp, they activate two-step verification on accounts that did not have the function activated, preventing the real owner from recovering his account.
3. Spy apps used by partners to clone and view messages
Spy apps are able to monitor all user cell phone activity. In the case of WhatsApp, it is possible to mirror all the conversations of the victims to be able to read the content on another device. In addition to criminals, who can use access to intimate messages to blackmail victims, these apps can be used by controlling relatives or jealous love partners, in order to invade the individual's privacy.
Applications mirror the victim's conversations to make a cloned WhatsApp Photo: Paulo Alves / TechTudo
This scam is more difficult to be applied, since the applications need to be installed manually on the victim's cell phone by reading a QR Code, in a process similar to activating WhatsApp Web, which demands having the device in hand at a time of distraction from the owner. So I need to be careful when handing out the unlocked cell phone to other people.
4. Cloning chip to ask for money
This technique manages to clone the cell phone chip and, consequently, WhatsApp, to extort money from users. Using a loophole in the identity verification mechanism in call center from the telephone operators, the criminals buy new chips and call the central of the companies pretending to be the victims, in an alleged attempt to recover a lost or stolen number.
Even with the request for personal data, such as full address and social security number, some crooks manage to go through this security layer and activate the number of victims on the new chip. Then, they get in touch with friends and relatives to ask for deposits in cash.
How to protect yourself and not have WhatsApp cloned?
The most effective way to protect yourself from having WhatsApp cloned is to activate two-step verification, in which you create a second numeric code requested during login to the messenger. If someone gets access to your login validation code sent by SMS, you also need to know the PIN that you created, which makes it more difficult to release the account, since a number that you only know.
To enable 2-step verification on WhatsApp, go to Settings, go to "Account", tap "2-step verification" and tap "Activate". Then, create your PIN and enter an email to recover your password in case of loss.
Two-step verification of WhatsApp can be activated on iPhone and Android Photo: Reproduo / Rodrigo Fernandes
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