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What you need to know about the WhatsApp 'scam' message people are receiving today.

Another day, another smart phone scam none of us would have to worry about if we were still using Nokia 3310s.

There’d also be Snake, but that’s another conversation for a different day.

Today, everyone’s talking about the dangerous scam going around WhatsApp, the private messaging app used by an estimated five million Aussies to keep in touch with loved ones overseas and banter in group chats.

The short story is: people are receiving direct messages on WhatsApp about a virus-ridden video called Martinelli reportedly being released in the next 24 hours. This video isn’t real, but there is a real threat WhatsApp users should be mindful of.

It’s a tad tricky to get your head around but essentially, there could be a real scam hidden in a fake scam.

Let’s back up a bit. Earlier this week, reports started filtering through about WhatsApp users receiving the Martinelli message.

“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,” the variation of the message reads.

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“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.”

However, security experts say the Martinelli video doesn’t exist and the message is a chain letter hoax, News.com.au reports. In other words, there’s no risk and no need to pass the message on to family and friends. If you’ve already opened the Martinelli message or passed it on, you don’t need to worry.

That said, it appears a scam called WhatsApp Gold is also doing the rounds on the app and is putting users at risk.

WhatsApp Gold isn’t new. The scam that encourages users to ‘update’ their app to a ‘premium’ Gold service first started doing the rounds as early as 2016, and once clicked on through an update link, leaves your device susceptible to malware that can jeopardise your personal data.

The thing that’s confusing about these WhatsApp scams is it’s hard to tell what’s dangerous and what’s not.

To summarise:

  • The Martinelli message isn’t dangerous, but you might as well not open or forward it, just to be safe.
  • All verified WhatsApp updates come through the Google Play Store and Apple App Store – ignore any messages that ask you to update your app via a link.
  • Delete any chain letter or updates messages you receive on the app.

Stay safe friends!

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