A BIZARRE WhatsApp hoax is going viral online, warning of a “hacked” text that destroys your phone.
It urges users to avoid messages from a user named Martinelli or a clip called ‘Dance of the Pope’ – and warns against WhatsApp gold texts too.
But it’s actually a recurring hoax that is simply not true.
The message reads: “WARNING TO ALL FRIENDS. From BBC radio this morning.
“If you know anyone using WhatsApp, you might pass on this. Be 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.
“Also, if you receive a message to update the Whatsapp to Whatsapp Gold, do not click !!!!!
“Please inform all contacts from your list not to open a video called the “Dance of the Pope”.
“It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it today on BBC radio. Fwd this msg to as many as you can!”
But the scam has been debunked by fact-checkers.
Full Fact writes: “The other video viruses mentioned in the post are not real, and variants of these hoaxes have been going viral for years.”
Frustratingly, this is a recurring hoax, and has been widely debunked over the year.
There has never been any evidence of a rogue “hacked” text from someone called “Martinelli”.
However, it sprinkles in an element of truth: WhatsApp Gold scams have been spotted in the past.
They often promise extra WhatsApp features in exchange for a fee – but often involve you being conned out of money or info.
Alternatively, such scams could install malware on your device, allowing hackers to wreak havoc on your online life.
But this scam isn’t particularly popular any more, and has never been genuinely linked to the so-called “Martinelli” attack.
he Snopes fact-checking site have both confirmed that a sinister “martinelli” video doesn’t exist – but has been part of a hoax chain message since 2016.
“Given that there apparently isn’t any ‘martinelli’ video, WhatsApp users are safe from it,” Sophos wrote in a warning 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.”
But the second part of the message about WhatsApp Gold is legitimate.
WhatsApp Gold is a notable scam, as Sophos explains: “‘WhatsApp Gold’ scam messages have, for at least two and a half years and via varyingly worded messages, claimed that the new ‘premium service’ would get users extra goodies, such as video calling and new emojis.
“Users who clicked on the link got no goodies. They got baddies, in the form of a non-WhatsApp website that told them to download malware nicknamed ‘WhatsApp Gold’.”
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