This WhatsApp scam promises big, but just sends you into a spiral

Worker shortages are the hook for the phoney government's 'offer.'
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Image: Shutterstock/GaudiLab

A new phishing campaign on WhatsApp is scamming individuals who want to work in the United Kingdom.

As documented by Malwarebytes, the scheme's operators are sending out messages claiming to be from the UK government, offering a free visa and other benefits to individuals willing to move to the country.

SEE: Google: Half of zero-day exploits linked to poor software fixes

The scam begins with messages sent to numbers via the WhatsApp mobile-messaging platform. Recipients are told that the UK needs over 132,000 additional workers in 2022, and so the government is running a recruitment drive, with over 186,000 vacant job spots available.

While cold-call messages concerning visas are red flags in themselves, the phishing attempt doesn't stop there. The scam reads:

"THE PROGRAM COVERS: Travel expense. Housing. Accommodation. Medical facilities. Applicant must be 16 years or above. Can speak basic English.
BENEFIT OF THE PROGRAM: Instant work permit. Visa application assistance. All nationalities can apply. Open to all individuals and students who want to work and study. Apply here"

If a victim clicks through, they are served a fraudulent domain, masquerading as a UK Visas and Immigration website. Foreigners are asked to "apply for thousands of jobs already available in the United Kingdom".

The website aims to gather the personal data of visitors, including their names, email addresses, phone numbers, marital status, and employment status. 

No matter what a user submits, the free application form is automatically 'approved,' and they are told they "will be given a work permit, visa, plane tickets and accommodation in the UK for free".

None of this is, of course, true.

As with many run-of-the-mill phishing scams, their operators will then try to obtain even more information and often attempt to generate revenue from victims.

The visa applicants are told their next form will be available once they have invited either 15 friends or five groups on WhatsApp to make others 'aware' of the program. In its final step, users are sent to other websites, including those selling drones and quiz websites asking for personal data, including telephone numbers.

Visa-themed phishing scams are a common theme in the cyber-attacker landscape. A similar scam made the rounds several months past, attempting to lure individuals who wanted to work or study in the United Kingdom.

"All in all, this is yet another "if it's too good to be true" escapade and should be avoided," Malwarebytes commented.

Image: Malwarebytes

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