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WhatsApp malicious video hoax reportedly makes comeback

An old hoax targeting WhatsApp users has reportedly reemerged, attempting to scare users by falsely warning them not to download a supposed video that contains dangerous malware.

The fake notification, which pops up up on WhatsApp's instant message feature, advises users to be on the lookout for a malicious video titled "Martinelli". However, no such video exists.

"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," the hoax message states. "Spread the word. If you receive a message to update the Whatsapp to Whatsapp Gold, do not click !!!!!"

Reports say the message refers to an actual scam that dates back to 2016. This scam attempts to trick users into installing a fake premium version of WhatsApp called WhatsApp Gold, which in reality is just malware in disguise.

"Given that there apparently isn’t any 'martinelli' video, WhatsApp users are safe from it," Sophos reported last November in a blog post. "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."

According to the fact-checking website, the Martinelli hoax has existed since at least mid-2017.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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