WhatsApp 'subscription has expired' scam

Fraudsters are always looking for ways to get their hands on our hard-earned cash and are currently sending out phishing or vishing SMS messages impersonating WhatsApp. The messages claim that the victim's subscription has expired and request that they pay a fee to purchase a lifetime subscription.

As WhatsApp no longer requires a subscription, this is a scam. However, these messages appear highly convincing because the scammers are able to spoof the sender ID to read 'WhatsApp'. This means that the message is received on the same thread as the genuine verification message that WhatsApp sends through when you create an account. Many of the messages do not contain spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, making it even more difficult for them to be distinguished from genuine communications. An example of one such message is:

'Your subscription has expired. To verify your account and purchase a lifetime subscription for just 0.99 GBP simply tap on this link'

What to do if you receive a text

Do not click the link, as it could contain malicious content. You can report the text to the following parties:

  • Your phone provider - This can usually be done by forwarding the message to 7726. Some providers may have different ways for you to report phishing.
  • Your local authorities - In the UK, you can report the message to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_phishing and NFIBPhishing@city-of-london.pnn.police.uk . In the USA, you can report the message to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted , spam@uce.gov , reportphishing@apwg.org and phishing-report@us-cert.gov
  • Facebook - As Facebook owns WhatsApp, it is in their best interest to shut down any scams impersonating WhatsApp and the best way to report to them is by email at phish@fb.com
  • SpamResponse via https://www.spamresponse.com/report-spam
  • If you visit the URL and complete the form, you'll need to report this to your bank/card provider and local law enforcement. Contact information for law enforcement agencies can be found at http://antifraudintl.org/forums/police-links.496/