WhatsApp Gold hoax: what is it and what should you do if you receive it?

Mysterious message warns of fake malicious video and account upgrades

(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

A scam message warning people about a fake upgrade that downloads malware on to their smartphone is once again spreading across WhatsApp.

The hoax urges users not to download an update called “WhatsApp Gold” or click on a video dubbed “Martinelli”.

While there haven’t been many reports of the WhatsApp Gold prank for some time, several users of the messaging service have taken to Twitter to warn others that a message about the spoof update is doing the rounds again.

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The original WhatsApp Gold scam suggested there’s an update for WhatsApp that gives users “the ability to have video chats, send 100 pictures at once, and delete messages after you have sent them”, the Mirror reports.

If users click on the update button, they are sent to a website “that is riddled with malicious software” that could infect their smartphones, the newspaper says.

The most recent hoax, however, takes a slightly different form. According to the Evening Standard, the messages seem to be a “scaremongering” hoax, where no download link to malicious sites is provided.

A sample of one of the messages, posted by Cambridgeshire Live, says: “Today the radio was talking about WhatsApp Gold and it’s true. There is a video launching that will be launching tomorrow in WhatsApp and is called Martinelli. Do not open it. Goes to your phone and nothing you do will fix it. Spread the word if you know someone. If you receive a message to download WhatsApp Gold * Do not open it! They announced that the virus is serious. Send it to everyone.”

Though there were cases of the WhatsApp Gold scam, the Martinelli video is widely believed to be a hoax.

The video “created panic” when rumours about its existence started circulating in 2017, though “it turned out no such video exists”, the Standard says.

It’s not known why the messages were made or whether posts containing malicious links may follow in the coming days.

What should you do if you receive it?

Any messages asking users to manually install an update should be ignored and deleted, the Standard says.

This is because WhatsApp installs updates automatically and will not provide users with a download link, the paper adds.

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