If you disclose your cell phone number in online ads for OLX, Mercado Livre or other platforms, stay tuned: scammers have been using social engineering to steal your WhatsApp account and ask your contacts for money. To protect yourself, it’s important to enable two-factor authentication and never reveal your verification code to third parties.
O Technology reports two such cases. Marcos Lopes posted an ad on OLX to sell a watch. He received a message via WhatsApp asking for a confirmation code; the contact had the OLX logo on the profile picture, so he sent it.
In a short time, about 300 people received messages from his account asking for borrowed money; a friend ended up transferring R $ 500. The boy managed to recover his profile after sending an email to WhatsApp support.
In the second case, Hugo Matta announced a car on the internet and received a call from a supposed Mercado Livre employee asking for the confirmation code. He was suspicious and decided not to hand over the data, but he had to hear the criminal’s insults.
In a statement to the Tecnoblog, Mercado Livre says:
In order to guarantee a safe negotiation, Mercado Livre guides its customers to always make the contacts logged to the platform. The company points out that, precisely to ensure the safety of users, contact data such as e-mail address and cell phone number should not be informed to other users directly before the sale / purchase of the product through the platform. It also advises that this data is not exchanged by e-mail or messages.
And this is OLX’s statement:
So that our users can carry out successful online negotiations between them, OLX continuously invests in technology and in the communication of best buying and selling practices, including informing them about how to proceed in cases of fraud attempts, with alerts in our official channels and social networks.
OLX reinforces that it does not request verification codes or passwords for any user and recommends that negotiations take place via chat, on the platform.
WhatsApp scam targets sellers of OLX and ML
The scam works like this: the criminal finds his cell phone number on the internet and pretends to be from OLX or Mercado Livre; it can be sending a message through WhatsApp or making a call. He asks for a verification code sent by SMS, claiming that this is necessary to keep the ad active.
This verification code is actually sent by WhatsApp. In possession of the six digits, the scammer can access your account on another device and impersonate you. Then, he asks his contacts for money.
We talked about this scam on WhatsApp a few months ago: it was initially observed by Kaspersky and should not end anytime soon. What to do? There are two important recommendations:
If your account has already been stolen, contact the support team via email [email protected]
It is worth remembering that there is another similar and more sophisticated scam: the “SIM swap”, informally known as “cloning”. In it, the criminal is able to transfer his phone line to another chip, receive the verification code and use his WhatsApp account. In this case, two-factor authentication can prevent intrusion.