A message is doing the rounds on WhatsApp warning users of a threat which will hack their phone – but it transpires the post itself is a scam.
Experts are warning users to ignore a message alerting them of a ‘Martinelli’ video which they say is capable of wiping your phone in under ten seconds.
The unknown sender says that users are supposedly vulnerable to a piece of malicious software being distributed via the video link and instructs them to pass it on to friends.
The message also alerts users about the ‘WhatsApp Gold’ message, a genuine scam which asks users to upgrade to premium to get ‘goodies and new emojis’.
The message, which many are forwarding to friends in an effort to keep them safe, reads: ‘If you know anyone using WhatsApp you might pass on this.
‘An IT colleague has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called Martinelli do not open it.
‘It hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word.’
‘If you receive a message to update the WhatsApp to WhatsApp Gold, do not click!!!!!
‘Now said on the news this virus is difficult and severe. Pass it on to all.’
The source of the original message is unknown but it is said to have originated in Spain in 2017.
Spanish police sent a tweet in July confirming that the message is a hoax and to not forward it.
Cyber security company Sophos, based in Abington, confirmed that the message is ‘half rubbish’ saying there is no Martinelli video but the WhatsApp Gold scam is a real thing.
Sophos explains: ‘WhatsApp Gold’ scam messages have, for at least two and a half years and via varyingly worded messages, claimed that the new “premium service” would get users extra goodies, such as video calling and new emojis.’
Users who clicked on the upgrade button were forwarded to a non WhatsApp website telling them to download WhatsAp Gold malware.
Sophos tells users that if you receive a message from WhatsApp Gold do not pass it on or click into it but tells users to rest assured that there is no Martinelli video.
Different variations of the same message are being sent in different countries by the unknown sender who say the message is coming from the authorities.
An Irish version reads: ‘Warning from An Garda. An IT expert has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called Martinelli do not open it, it hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word.’