Scam alert! Think twice if your village chief hits you up for NT$60,000 on Line

The China Post

Last weekend, one man received text messages from several village chiefs who each asked to borrow NT$60,000, local media reported.

Chiang Chun-ting (江俊霆), chief of New Taipei City’s Department of Civil Affairs, said he received texts on the messaging app Line from village chiefs whose accounts had obviously been hacked.

After the scammers failed at getting Chiang to loan them money, they even tried to get his phone number so they could hack his Line account, according to the United Daily News.

Calling the scam ring “ridiculous,” Chiang posted screenshots of his conversations with the purported village chiefs to the social media site Facebook.

He reminded his friends not to be fooled by scammers and urged village chiefs to be more vigilant about their information security.

Chiang said he had received phony messages from his contacts before, but never at such a high frequency.

How to Hack a Line Account

From Saturday to Monday, the scam ring had compromised the accounts of four village chiefs from the same district, according to the report.

One councilor from the district gave away his phone number to a suspected hacker and immediately took to Facebook to assure his friends, “I would not borrow money from you.”

According to Chiang, it appeared that the village chiefs had all been in the same Line group.

First, scammers hacked into one village chief’s account. Then they used that account to get the numbers of all the other chiefs, by claiming to have gotten a new cellphone and needing to collect everyone’s contact information.

The very trusting village chiefs then agreed to “receive a verification code” for the scammers, passing on the four-digit codes that they received in a text message.

After receiving the codes, scammers were able to gain access to the village chiefs’ Line accounts, Chiang said.

Scam Defense 101

Chen Yung-hsing (陳勇行), a detective at New Taipei City Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said that this type of Line scam was becoming increasingly common.

Scammers typically use Line to automatically add friend. After gaining access to a victim, they convince the victim to provide a phone number.

If scammers are able to verify the phone number with help from the victim, they will have successfully hacked into the victim’s account.

To make your Line account more secure, you can disable the “auto-add friends” and “allow others to add me” functions, Chen said.

You can also set the settings for “allow others to add me by ID” and “Allow login” to “off.”

In addition, if your friend on Line asks you for your number or ask you to receive a verification number on their behalf, call first to make sure it’s the real thing, he said.