Joanita Wibowo

Warning for Australian users: WhatsApp’s hoax returns

Warning for Australian users: WhatsApp’s hoax returns

A hoax message from 2016 is circulating once again among Australian WhatsApp users.

The viral message warns that a video called “martinelli” will be coming out in the next 24 hours to hack users’ phones.

It says: “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.”

According to fact-checking website Snopes, the “martinelli” hoax originated in Spain. Earlier versions of the message claim that the video contains a malware that can hack a phone in 10 seconds. In 2017, the country’s National Police Corps advised against sharing the hoax.

However, the message also contains accurate information on another phone virus risk. In the second half, the text says: “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.”

WhatsApp Gold is a scam where users are invited to upgrade to a “limited edition” version of the app with new features such as video calls and new emojis. Users who click through the provided link will be prompted to download harmful software. 

To stay secure, IT security firm Sophos advises users to refrain from forwarding questionable chain letters, apply security updates and download apps from official sources such as the App Store and Google Play.

Have you received this hoax message in WhatsApp? Tell us in the comments below.