Opportunists have hacked into a support group set up to help victims of Grenfell Tower in a quest to get visas.
At least two men have been bombarding kind-hearted volunteers with messages asking for financial support and help to get a job in the UK.
In a darker message, another man named ‘Papay’ asked the horrified group whether anyone would be interested in exchanging child pornography.
The user was removed but it has now been revealed others have been directly messaging volunteers after finding their number listed on the app.
Volunteers helping with the Grenfell Tower response have been asked by people unconnected to the tragedy for help getting visas
A WhatsApp group used by volunteers to share information has also been targeted by men asking for ‘friendship’ and another wanting to share ‘child porn’
In one exchange, a woman asked the man, who claimed to be from Senegal in Africa but living in Dubai, whether he was caught up in the disaster.
In broken English, he replied that he wasn’t – and knew nothing about it – but said: ‘I have to renew visa I need money to do this.’
He then added: ‘If you can arrange British visa I need it.’
But when the woman said she couldn’t help, the man – who describes himself as a driver – said: ‘Please help me for what you can. I got your number from the Grenfell group.’
According to one member the police were alerted after another man used the group to discuss sharing disturbing online content.
The group was born out of a desire to help those affected by the major incident which happened on Wednesday morning, last week.
An army of volunteers have come forward since the disaster to offer help and donate supplies
Survivors have said the local community swung into action much quicker than authorities
After the fire raged through the west London tower block, killing an estimated 79 people, thousands across the country were desperate to show support.
From donating clothing to serving up hot food for free, communities of all faiths and nationalities have come together on the ground and online to support the survivors.
But sadly an online hub has been hijacked and questions have been asked about the authenticity of Facebook fundraisers for the victims.
On social media, posts have been shared hundreds of times asking volunteers to donate ‘generously’ into an unnamed HSBC bank account – but with no link to an official organisation or religious group, donors run the risk of their money getting into the wrong hands.
Last week, a safety organisation warned disasters often attracted criminals who saw an opportunity to prey on vulnerable well-wishers who are caught up in the emotion of the tragedy.
The blaze destroyed the homes of more than 400 people and left at least 79 people dead
Campaign group Get Safe Online urged the public should watch out for unsolicited approaches by email, text, social media post, or by phone.
Last week a spokesman said: ‘We are warning you to remain vigilant for fraudulent messages from scammers, exploiting the pain and misery of the victims of this tragic fire.’
‘They may be making bogus charity appeals for financial help for victims and their families, or otherwise direct you to fake news or image websites which, if visited, could infect your connected devices.’
Some scams come in the form of emails, text messages or social media posts claiming to be from victims or their families, appealing for financial help.