WeChat Scams: How They Work
WeChat (or Weixin) is an iOS and Android app that has gained popularity around the world, with 438 million users worldwide, 368 million of those users hailing from China. With such a large user base, it’s no wonder that scams have finally popped up. This comes after China has closed 20 million WeChat accounts, which were reportedly involved with prostitution.
Watch the video below to see the WeChat prostitution crackdown:
WeChat allows users to text, voice message, or even meet up with other users in the same area. You can also send pictures, videos, and your location. These abilities have caused concern on both the national and individual level: countries are worried that top secret information may be compromised by the app’s omnipresent nature and its ability to access texts and contacts lists on its user’s phone.
The rise in the app’s popularity throughout the World has given politicians and dissidents concerns on the matter of security and privacy outside the realms of China.
According to Wikipedia, voice messaging, a feature on WeChat, has caused users to fear that the service will allow the monitoring of users’ movements in real time by security officials. WeChat as well contains the ability to access the text messages, contact books of its users and users’ location through the GPS feature.
Countries such as Taiwan, India, the United States, and China all fear that the app poses a threat to national security for various reasons.
On an individual level, well, just imagine this: you’re walking along the street on your way to the grocery store when you get a text through WeChat from someone nearby. They say they want to meet up, and you agree so they send you their location and you start walking. The street you’re walking on gets progressively smaller and darker, until you find yourself in a secluded area. You turn around to leave, and then there’s a gun pointed at you and your WeChat contact is asking for your wallet.
This scam is a particularly dangerous one, and is exactly what every parent these days warns their kids about online dating and meeting up with internet friends. Robbery, rape, blackmail, and other such crimes have been committed using this scam.
Another version of the WeChat scam targets male victims looking for jobs. The latest ‘job opportunity’ is to be a host at a host club in China or Taiwan. Host clubs are similar establishments to hostess clubs where primarily male staff cater to female customers.
Scammers use photos of attractive women as their profile pictures and invite the victims to come out for an interview. Lured by the double opportunities of meeting an attractive woman and getting a good job, victims are to pay hundreds of dollars (or the equivalent in Taiwanese or Chinese currency) to buy suits for the job. If the victims are extremely gullable, they are asked for more money, for “training fees”.
How to avoid:
Officials have stated that users of this app must stay vigilant and aware. Do not meet up with anyone who refuses to identify themselves or asks for something.
How to report:
Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How to protect yourself more:
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