Fahmi: Ministry to ask Meta about rise in WhatsApp scams

PUTRAJAYA: A meeting with Meta representatives is expected to be held next week due to the emergence of impersonation and fraud cases on the online messaging platform WhatsApp, says Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

The meeting is to address the “takeover” of WhatsApp accounts which were believed to have been hacked by cybercriminals. They then used the owner’s identity to trap other victims by sharing embedded links.

ALSO READ: Experts warn of scams on WhatsApp

“We will meet with Meta to know what are the (platform’s) security aspects that may be exploited by cybercriminals.

“This is a worrying trend as we have faced similar incidents with (social media app) Telegram where the criminals took over the users’ account. Now it has moved on to WhatsApp.

“If you have received any kind of link, do not simply click on them,” he told reporters after the launch of the 2023 National Anti-Scam Campaign closing ceremony here yesterday.

Fahmi said he had received complaints personally from users claiming that their accounts were “stolen” by irresponsible people.

He said deputy minister Teo Nie Ching met with Meta’s Facebook management earlier yesterday on the scam and fraud cases happening on the social platform.

CyberSecurity Malaysia had issued a warning involving scammers exploiting the WhatsApp application for impersonation activities and deceiving victims into transferring money.

It added the perpetrator would pose as someone known to the victim before sending a link to the contact list and asking their next victim to click on it. The victims will subsequently lose access to their WhatsApp account once they do.

At the event, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof reminded the public to continue to apply proactive prevention measures when it comes to online job offers and unverified social media posts.

He said they should check with public information centres to verify and fact check any offers such as jobs opportunities made online. Fadillah also shared his involvement in bringing back Malaysians who were forced to work as scammers from overseas.

He added that statistics by the Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department showed that online criminal cases have risen by 37% or 23,608 cases between January and November this year, compared with 23,608 cases in 2022.

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