A crime-fighting agency has warned the public to beware a new scam targeting users of WhatsApp.

Criminals are targeting WhatsApp users by posing as a friend and asking for a security code. 

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime scheme, has reported receiving more than 60 reports relating to this scam.

Hampshire Alert, which works for the police, Neighbourhood Watch and other organisations which fight crime, says the scam begins when a criminal gets access to another WhatsApp account which has you listed as a contact.

The criminal, posing as your friend or someone that’s a member of a WhatsApp group you’re in, will then send you seemingly normal messages to try and start a conversation with you.

However, around the same time you will receive a text message from WhatsApp with a six-digit code. This is because the criminal has been trying to log in to WhatsApp using your mobile number.

The criminal will claim they sent you their code by accident and ask you to help them by sending it to them. Once the criminal has this code, they can login to your WhatsApp account and lock you out.

The criminal will then use the same tactic with your WhatsApp contacts in an effort to steal more accounts and use them to perpetrate fraud.

 What you need to do:

 Set up two-step verification to give an extra layer of protection to your account: Tap Settings > Account >Two-step verification > Enable.

THINK. CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person to confirm their identity. 

Never share your account’s activation code (that’s the six-digit code you receive via SMS)

 You can report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

 If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.