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Sunday , October 24 2021

‘Whatsapp’ accounts hacked to extort cash and blackmail prominent people

MoI warns users on rise in theft of social media IDs

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 30: The cases of ‘Whatsapp’ accounts being hacked and stolen increased in recent days, whereas several victims confirmed this type of hacking with their accounts being used to blackmail and extort money from them.

In an investigative interview, friends and relatives of the victims said they received bogus messages from the hacked accounts requesting assistance, mostly financial. Many could fall into such a trap without verifying the messages, especially if the hacked account is that of a prominent personality or someone respectable.

For instance, Attorney Talal Al-Enezi narrated how his WhatsApp account was hacked by unknown person from Morocco who duped six of his friends to send him money and the total amount which was sent reached KD 800. Al-Enezi disclosed his account was hacked when he opened a link sent to him.

After that, the hacker went on to deceive his friends by making them believe that he is in need of money urgently. The attorney reported the matter to the Cyber Crimes Department in Kuwait, which advised him to travel to Morocco to file a case against the hacker who impersonated him.

The department is coordinating with other cyber crime agencies in various countries to pursue those behind this kind of scam. Journalist Awwad Al-Farhan narrated a similar story, but after contacting WhatsApp and passing the verification test of his identity, he restored his hacked account.

However, one of his friends sent KD 1,000 to a certain person after his account was hacked. Another victim of this scam is Kuwait Fishermen Union’s Chairman Thaher Al-Suwayyan whose WhatsApp account was hacked by a person, perhaps from Ukraine, who duped his friends by sending them a message to inform that he is at a funeral and he is unable to leave to clear some products which have just arrived, hence, he needs financial help to be transferred and then he will pay them back in the evening.

Al-Suwayyan said none of those on his WhatsApp contact list sent anything, as they realized the message was not authentic and he managed to notify them and warn them about his hacked account.

He stressed the need to raise public awareness through social media regarding hackers and scammers who impersonate others after hacking accounts on social media and then attempt to extort money from unsuspecting victims.

He added he informed the concerned agencies through which WhatsApp was notified, so his account was restored within two weeks. He emphasized the need for coordination between the Cyber Crimes Department and money transfer centers such that the beneficiary should be known in case of any future lawsuits even if such person is at the furthest places in the world.
Meanwhile, the Electronic Crimes Control Department in the Ministry of Interior through its various social media accounts warned the public about the increasing number of hackers on social media platforms.

In its accounts, the ministry explained that users of WhatsApp can avoid falling victim to hackers by using the settings in their apps which enable the user to lock his account to prevent anyone from hacking it. A security setting allows the user to enter a secret code together with the personal email address.

Hacking occurs through a link which is sent by hackers through WhatsApp. Once the unsuspecting user clicks that link, his account disappears and all the information is transferred to the hacker’s device. The danger of hacking is that the information from the hacked account is transferred automatically and the same link is sent to those in the stored contacts of the hacked account

By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff

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