Beware: WhatsApp scammers target children with ‘Olivia’ porn message

Somebody calling themselves “Olivia” is sending WhatsApp messages to kids, claiming to be from a friend of a friend who has a new phone number. However, she soon cuts the small talk short and starts sending links to porn sites.

Last week, British police in Cheshire asked parents to check their kids’ messages if they use the app:

People replied to the Halton Brook Police tweet with their own versions of Olivia messages, such as this one:

It’s been dubbed the “Olivia hoax” and it’s apparently specifically targeting children… which means that parents, you have yet one more thing to watch out for when it comes to your kids being online, as if you don’t have enough to worry about already!

What to do

“Olivia” isn’t the only hoax message that’s made the rounds on WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging app was recently forced to limit message forwarding in response to a rash of lynchings in India that were being caused by fake news being spread virally.

To help thwart the spread of hoaxes on the platform, WhatsApp has released some guidance on the most common types of scam message. WhatsApp says that if you receive messages like this, you may have been targeted by a scammer:

  • The sender claims to be affiliated with WhatsApp.
  • The message content includes instructions to forward the message.
  • The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message.
  • The message content includes a reward or gift from WhatsApp or another person.

If you’ve received one of these Olivia hoaxes or any that match WhatsApp’s list, you should block the sender, disregard the message and delete it, WhatsApp says. Also, to keep this stuff from harming your friends, don’t ever forward these hoax messages.