Scam calls and spam messages are a major problem globally, and even more so in India. To combat this issue, telecom operators recently introduced AI Filter spam to reduce the number of spam calls that users receive. However, scammers have now found a new way to target people.
Several WhatsApp users have reported receiving unwanted videos and voice calls from unknown international numbers. According to Entrackr, multiple users faced this problem and filed complaints. Recently, we also received calls from unknown international numbers on WhatsApp with the country code +7, designated to Russia and Kazakhstan. This suggests that scammers are using WhatsApp to target people in India and other countries.
It’s unclear how scammers are obtaining users’ phone numbers and whether they are using bots or manually targeting individuals. But these calls and messages overall are a menace.
Why are people getting these calls?
The proliferation of scam calls, particularly on WhatsApp, appears to be unprecedented. Although scammers have been using conventional text messaging (SMS) for a long time to target people, the scale at which they are using WhatsApp seems new. While most of these are robocalls, some scammers are posing as HRs and luring people with the promise of jobs.
One Twitter user, Shreyansh Jain, shared a screenshot of a WhatsApp message he received from a scammer who introduced themselves as “HR Priscilla Barret” and offered him a part-time job. The job was to earn Rs 50 per like on YouTube videos and up to “10000 Rs” per day, which is clearly a scam.
According to the Entracker report, Bhaskar Majumdar, a senior communication consultant, said that the scam process has become more digital and omnichannel, including WhatsApp messages, SMS, and LinkedIn messages. He added that he receives a minimum of two calls a week, in addition to WhatsApp messages and LinkedIn messages. The process of obtaining VoIP numbers for WhatsApp is straightforward, and scammers are using this to target unsuspecting users. From the number of complaints being raised on Twitter, this phenomenon seems to be well-organised, and these scammers are likely operating as a mafia.
So far, WhatsApp has not commented on this issue, but the company has been conducting awareness campaigns online and offline, encouraging users not to engage with these scam calls and messages. Telegram is also experiencing the same phenomenon, and readers are advised not to accept any unverified calls or messages from international numbers to protect themselves from these scams.