The 'WhatsApp Gold' And 'Martinelli' Hoax Messages Are Back
A widespread WhatsApp hoax is doing the rounds again.
The 'WhatsApp Gold hoax' began in 2016, 'warning' users about a potential virus called 'martinelli', as well as urging folk not to click on any updates for WhatsApp Gold. All very scary.
But it seems as though this is half-bullshit, half-legit with cybersecurity firm Sophos saying that the martinelli video doesn't exist - however, clicking on an offer to update to WhatsApp Gold, which is pitched as a 'premium service' for the popular app, could spell disaster.
There is no Gold edition of WhatsApp, according to the Internet mythbusters at Snopes, and if you did click on any links to download the non-existent upgrade you could end up lots of nasty malware on your phone, which isn't what you want.
The chain-style message 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!
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"Now said on the news this virus is difficult and severe. Pass it on to all."
Sophos has said that the message is 'half-rubbish' and described martinelli as a 'fictional threat'. So that's a relief.
And according to Snopes no such video exists, but the hoax persists. The initial martinelli warning started spreading back in 2016 and has popped back up periodically, usually shared by people like your mum who would 'rather be safe than sorry'.
In a post, Snopes said: "Given that there apparently isn't any 'martinelli' video, WhatsApp users are safe from it.
"All they have to do is inform senders that they've been taken in by a chain letter, tell them to please stop forwarding it, and of course, refrain from forwarding it themselves."
Even the Spanish police stepped in to say the martinelli video didn't exist, which is all very good, but Sophos warns that the potential threat of 'WhatsApp Gold' is real.
The company warns that the messages, which claim that 'the new premium service would get users extra goodies, such as video calling and new emojis', have been around for a couple of years.
But if you did click through, you'd find yourself being prompted to download malware called - surprise, surprise - WhatsApp Gold.
The upshot is this: Sophos urges people not to send around the 'warning messages'. Instead it recommends basic phone security such as applying security updates and only downloading apps from the App Store or Google Play - sounds simple enough.
Featured Image Credit: PA