3 Common WhatsApp Scams and How to Avoid Them

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Maxym Chekalov
Written by
Maxym Chekalov

Updated · Oct 04, 2023

Maxym Chekalov
SEO Specialist | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Maxym Chekalov

With a master's degree in telecommunications and over 15 years of working experience in telecommunic... | See full bio

Florence Desiata
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Florence Desiata


Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

Florence is a dedicated wordsmith on a mission to make technology-related topics easy-to-understand.... | See full bio

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Dating is already hard enough. Now we also have to be wary of people scamming their way into our hearts on messaging platforms like Whatsapp.

They leverage WhatsApp’s security method called end-to-end encryption technology, which makes it hard for regulators to detect and block scams.

In 2022, nearly 70,000 people were conned by romance scammers and reported losses amounted to a staggering 1.3 billion.

So how can you avoid becoming a statistic? If you are looking for love online, it’s best to know how to identify the types of scams and what you can do to avoid them.

In this article, discover the different types of WhatsApp dating scams and how to avoid them. 

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • Social media, dating apps, and messaging apps are hunting grounds for dating fraud.
  • With crypto romance scams, scammers will provide made-up evidence to convince you they are the real deal.
  • Romance scammers may camouflage themselves as military members seeking love online.
  • Romance scammers will ask for sexual favors, and once you give in, they will threaten to expose you if you don’t do what they want you to.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is the world's third most-used social platform, boasting popularity in over 100 countries. 

They use it to stay in touch with friends and family. But other than that, WhatsApp is also a hotspot for finding potential love interests. 

The platform's prominence makes it a ripe target for online dating scammers, a.k.a romance scammers.

With WhatsApp users delivering roughly 100 billion messages and over 100 million voice calls daily, even if only a few scams work, it's already a big payout for any romance scammer.

💡Did You Know? 2 billion people use WhatsApp on a monthly basis, with some opening it 23-25 times daily. 

3 Types of WhatsApp Dating Scams Today

WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta, has been the subject of many controversies in the past few years, from data breaches to government scrutiny. Now, the escalation of scams is rising to be some of its biggest problems in 2023.

20% of WhatsApp users spend at least two hours daily on the platform. Like Instagram and Facebook, WhatsApp scams surged by over 2000% at the end of 2021. 

Here are the three main dating scams you may encounter on the app:

1. Crypto Romance Scams and Phishing

Crypto romance scams start with well-rehearsed scammers reaching you on dating apps, WhatsApp, or social media.

Scammers build a persona of a successful businessperson. They will bait you by discussing how they have attained financial freedom through cryptocurrency investment. They will even send a made-up proof of its supposed 100% returns.


I see this all too often , so please beware of this individual, take note of the phone number especially, it’s used to lure and trap using the popular Whatsapp platform, possibly others where it’s difficult to get blocked/removed.https://t.co/5x99cBd5oc pic.twitter.com/nnL0pCUeEk

— Beware of Scammers (@thinkandbeware) February 11, 2020

They will build an online relationship with you and pressure you until you are convinced to join in the same investment. They might also ask you to buy cryptocurrency and hand over your crypto assets. 

WhatsApp Phishing Attack

The romance scammer will say you must set up an account using a link they sent. It leads to a website that will ask for your personal information

Little do you know, it's a spoofed website for scammers to steal your information. These websites usually mimic a trusted company or something that looks legit.

Stolen personal information can lead to identity theft. In 2021, statistics show that over 42 million Americans fell victim to identity theft. 

💡Did You Know? Older people are more vulnerable to phishing. Unfortunately, one in four (28.1%) people above 75 falls for a phishing scam.

US adults between 30-49 also use the app the most. Moreover, considering that many older family members are on the platform, many scammers are now targeting their scams to that demography through “Hi, Mum” scams.

In this type of scam, malicious individuals will try to scam older people out of their hard-earned money by pretending to be their kids in distress.

If a loved one contacts you with an unusual request on WhatsApp, always confirm their identity before anything else.

Some scammers will even call you directly. Since the platform works through VoIP technology, international scammers can make free calls to any number worldwide, regardless of their carrier.

Many scammers will attempt to obtain sensitive information from you, which they will use to steal money from your financial accounts. 

WhatsApp Malware Scam

Sometimes, the links scammers send you end up downloading malware. Many of these links lead to types of malware that can cause chaos on your device, including your mobile device.

This devious scheme is how  scammers spy on your activities and steal your data, including your:

  • Credit card information
  • ID numbers
  • Passwords
WhatsApp Group Chat Crypto Scam 

Another scheme in the WhatsApp crypto scam involves getting randomly added to a group chat where an investment scammer tries to show everyone how great their scam investment is. 


I see this all too often , so please beware of this individual, take note of the phone number especially, it’s used to lure and trap using the popular Whatsapp platform, possibly others where it’s difficult to get blocked/removed.https://t.co/5x99cBd5oc pic.twitter.com/nnL0pCUeEk

— Beware of Scammers (@thinkandbeware) February 11, 2020

Scammers deploy many WhatsApp users in the group acting as if they're interested. The catch is that they, too, are all part of the game.

With made-up names and chats, scammers invest their time in WhatsApp crypto romance scams to get money. 

💡Did You Know? In 2022, a retired man named Mike grew fond of a certain "Jenny" from Malaysia.

In July, Mike, looking for companionship on a dating app, got matched with Jenny. They exchanged messages about their lives, and after a month or so, the topic was cryptocurrency.

Jenny talked him into investing 3,000 USD in a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange website and instructed him to transfer the money to another platform. 

Mike's cryptocurrency portfolio hit 1 million USD in value, and he was assigned to a 'teacher analyst' named Devon. 

Four months later, they told him to send his tax payments to the Department of Homeland Security instead of the IRS. Mike became suspicious and discovered he was scammed when he couldn't transfer money from his account anymore.

He lost about 277,000 USD in total.

2. Military Romance Scam

Military romance scammers will use stolen photos of military service workers from internet websites and message you randomly, often using military jargon and titles.

200 million websites all over the world offer valuable data about millions of potential victims. Given that, scammers can easily find novel ways to be more believable.

With 336 million people using online dating apps, many romance scams start can start just by swiping right on the wrong person.

However, scammers have also ventured their way onto apps like Facebook. With almost 71% of American users, scammers scour the platform’s groups looking for potential targets like single men or women. 

 Military romance scam. Are you being followed by these pictures? The man in the picture is not the one you are talking to! Block and report. They steel your heart then your money. Do not fall for it! One even says he’s the real one, yeah right! #smh 🤦🏼‍♀️ pic.twitter.com/o8YxiDWZeg

— Scam (@Scamalert22) April 19, 2019

Soon enough, they'll encourage you to move the conversation to WhatsApp. If you refuse, they’ll ghost you since dating apps have customer care teams that monitor strange behavior.

Moreover, Facebook has security measures that remove fake accounts, making fraud less likely to be pulled off on the platform.

US military officials and official websites receive hundreds of reports from victims of military romance scams. Scammers might manipulate you with claims that they:

  • Can't do video calls because of security reasons
  • Are U.S. military members serving in other countries like Syria and Afghanistan
  • Need to borrow money from you to pay for military-related expenses like travel arrangements to go home
  • Are near the end of their careers and willing to settle down with you

Military Romance Scam Checklist

The scams were so prevalent that US Embassy in Afghanistan had to release a public warning. This action was due to numerous inquiries from victims of military romance scams from dating apps and social media platforms like Facebook, Viber, Kik, and WhatsApp. 

 Typical military romance scam.#onlinedating #romancescam pic.twitter.com/G5lgBIyjH9

— MaddieK (@Maddie_K705) December 1, 2021

The report warns of military romance scammers claiming to be a member of the US military or employees deployed in Afghanistan. After spending months building a relationship with their victim, the scammers make up stories to get unsuspecting victims to send them money. 

3. Blackmail and Sextortion Scam

If you're a WhatsApp user and at the same time shooting your shot on online dating apps, you may find people asking for your WhatsApp details to 'confirm' that you are legitimate. 

WhatsApp sextortion schemes start like this. In their request to confirm your identity, they'll want to see you virtually through a video call. 

The conversation turns romantic quickly until they pressure you to remove your clothes and request sexual favors. 

 Victim of WhatsApp ‘sextortion’ says they are being blackmailed for thousands of pounds. #whatsapp #sextortion #onlinesafety #publicandpermanenthttps://t.co/MQtxkXS42X

— Developers of Digital Consciousness™ (@MyDigitalSafety) August 20, 2022

Scammers will record everything and threaten to leak your intimate photos to friends and family or publish it online if you don't send them more sexually explicit content, have sex with them, or send a certain amount of money. 

Unfortunately, giving in to the blackmail would only escalate the problem.

💡Did You Know? In 2022, a Reddit user was scammed on WhatsApp by someone they initially matched on Tinder. They continued communicating through WhatsApp until the victim was persuaded to send a sexually explicit video.

Afterward, the scammer threatened to publish the video if the victim didn't send $800. Pressured, the victim sent the money. 

In the middle of their wait, before the money reached the scammer, the victim posted on Reddit their worries that the scammer might ask for more.

The victim knew they could use the police' help but didn't push through as the scammers weren't from the US.

How to Avoid Dating Scams on WhatsApp

If they ask you for money or offer you an amount or promise that’s just way too good to be true, that’s a glaring red flag.

⚠️ Warning: If you want to take a dip into the WhatsApp dating pool, be wary of dating scams using these tips:

  • Being wary of those who profess love quickly, especially if you haven’t met in person. 
  • Doing a thorough online search to cross-check the person’s legitimacy.
  • Thinking twice before you decide to share something. 
  • Being suspicious if they make plans to visit but always cancel because of some emergency and in need of financial assistance.
  • Keeping your account secure and taking advantage of WhatsApp’s security features.
  • Reporting problematic content and contacts to WhatsApp.

In case they threaten you, block their number and contact the authorities.

Any cyber lover can be a scammer. Find out who they are using the tried and tested website Social Catfish which can track the identities and locations of people behind romance scams.

Unlike other standard reverse image search engines, Social Catfish has incredible deep reverse search technology to uncover a scammer’s identity.

Just enter any information about your suspected scammer on the website, and Social Catfish will help verify their identities.

You can choose from two memberships:

  • Reverse search for images
  • Reverse social search

The latter option enables you to search using a name, email address, phone number, and social media username or address.

👍 Helpful Articles: Scammers got to scam. Unfortunately, with more and more of our lives tied to our digital identity, they’ll likely develop new ways to scam people out of their money.

Watch out for suspicious messages and read guides to protect yourself from scammers:

The Bottomline

Just like you wouldn't trust anyone you met in real life, you shouldn't trust someone you've met online. No matter how long you talk to them, it does not guarantee they are trustworthy. 

Remember, romance scammers are losers hiding behind fake personas. With Social Catfish and our tips above, we hope to spare you from heartbreak and breaking the bank.


Is Whatsapp safe for online dating?

WhatsApp is considered safe for communication but doesn't guarantee safety for online dating. Its end-to-end encryption makes it difficult for regulators and service providers to detect and block scams.

What are the signs of a dating scammer?

Dating scammers quickly bombard you with attention or affection without getting to know you. They are master manipulators telling lies like they can't meet you in person, are in need of money, and are very patient in teaching you how to send it.  

How do I report a WhatsApp scammer?

You can contact the cops or your local Federal Bureau of Investigation field office or report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Via WhatsApp, you can find a "Contact Us" option under the help tab or call its customer service line.


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