WhatsApp Phone Numbers of About 500 Million Users Put Up on Sale: Report

Some of the victims whose WhatsApp phone numbers were put on sale were from India.


WhatsApp has reportedly experienced a data breach, which has led to the theft of critical user data. In what could be one of the biggest data breaches, numbers of nearly 500 million WhatsApp users have been put up on sale online. A Cybernews report, claimed that the leaked phone numbers of WhatsApp users were put up on sale as an ad on a hacking community forum.

The ad post claimed to have the latest 2022 database details of 487 million WhatsApp users. These users belonged to a variety of countries. Let’s take a look at more details about the cybercrime that has risked the privacy of the affected users.

WhatsApp Phone Numbers on Sale

Phone numbers of about 500 million WhatsApp users have been reportedly put on sale online. These users belong to different countries worldwide. The list of 84 countries includes the US, the UK, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia, etc. The report also stated that some of the victims whose phone numbers were put on sale were from India.

While the number of phone records of Indian users is unknown, the report stated that over 32 million US user records were put on sale for $7,000 (roughly Rs 5,71,700). The leaked database also includes phone numbers of about 45 million Egyptian users, 35 million users from Italy, 29 million users from Saudi Arabia, 20 million from France and 20 million from Turkey. In addition to this, the ad revealed that the database includes 10 million Russian and over 11 million UK citizens’ phone numbers.

Those who want access to these details will have to pay $2,500 (approx. Rs 2,04,200) and $2,000 (approx. Rs 1,63,300) for UK and Germany databases, respectively.

The seller also claimed that the phone numbers belong to active users of the Meta-owned messaging app. Although the hacker did not specify how they obtained the database, they claimed to have “used their strategy” to collect the data.

Hackers typically use the leaked details for phishing purposes. Phishing is one of the cyber-attacks where the hacker pretends as a genuine person or an app to gain access to the victim’s sensitive information. The hacker can also deploy malware on the victim’s device for ransomware or steal data without their knowledge.

What should you do if you think your phone number has leaked? First and foremost, avoid answering calls from suspicious phone numbers from other countries. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) often notifies users to avoid answering calls from phone numbers whose country code is not +91, which belongs to India. Users should also avoid responding to messages from unknown numbers. In addition to this, do not install any app or service if an unknown number sends a link that redirects to some third-party website or store. Users should download and install authorised apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

WhatsApp or Meta have officially not released a statement or confirmed the incident at the time of writing this.