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WhatsApp “Martinelli” hoax is back, warning about “Dance of the Pope” – Naked Security


If you follow @NakedSecurity on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that we warned last week about an old WhatsApp hoax that suddenly reappeared.

The bogus news is generally known as the “Martinelli hoax”, because it starts like this:

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.

When we last wrote about “Martinelli”, back in 2018, we noted that the hoax was given a breath of believability because the text above was immediately followed by this:

If you receive a message to update the WhatsApp to WhatsApp Gold, do not click!!!!!

This part of the hoax has a ring of truth to it.

Back in 2016, hoax-checking site Snopes reported that malware dubbing itself WhatsApp Gold, was doing the rounds.

The fake WhatsApp was promoted by bogus messages that claimed, “Hey Finally Secret WhatsApp golden version has been leaked, This version is used only by big celebrities. Now we can use it too.”

So WhatsApp Gold was actual malware, and the advice to avoid it was valid, so the initiator of the Martinelli hoax used it to give an element of legitimacy to their otherwise fake warning about the video.

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