Watch out for this WhatsApp ‘scam’

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Watch out for this WhatsApp ‘scam’

Johannesburg – Responding to an SMS that advertises WhatsApp add-ons or updates could cost you hundreds of rands per month.

This is according to IT consultant and prominent technology blogger Liron Segev who has highlighted what he calls just the latest WhatsApp ‘scam’ to hit South Africa.

It starts with mobile phone users receiving an SMS from a Wireless Application Service Provider (Wasp) saying “you have not updated to the latest WhatsApp Add-ons”. The SMS then prompts the user to ‘click’ – or rather press – on a link.

Segev says “unsuspecting” victims will activate the link, which opens up the phone’s web browser and leads to a page with a big green button that says ‘continue’.

However, the risk is that users may skip over the fine print at the bottom of the web page, which details how the service will deduct R7 per day off their phone bill.

If left unnoticed, this could add over R200 to your phone bill per month. This could help these ‘Wasps’ earn large amounts of money, even if they only reach small numbers of people. In South Africa, WhatsApp has 10 million users alone, according to research from World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

“The issue is you get scams like this which are playing on the masses, sending out millions of these SMSs, hoping that a certain percentage will actually not bother to read,” Segev told Fin24.

“They’ll catch you when you’re not focusing. You’ll put a couple of clicks in; nothing will happen. You’ll think nothing of it, but then little amounts of money come off your account without you realising it,” Segev said.

Segev further told Fin24 that this type of SMS sign-up is just one of many as other companies send out text messages prompting users to deactivate or even upgrade WhatsApp.

WhatsApp can only be updated via the Google Play apps market for Android or the Apple App Store.

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