WhatsApp Video Calling Scam Message

Message being distributed via WhatsApp invites you to click a link to download WhatsApp video calling.

Brief Analysis:
The invite message is a scam. It is not an official WhatsApp notification and clicking the link does not download video calling. The link opens a scam website that tries to trick you into first sending the same scam message to your friends and then divulging your personal information via scam survey pages.  It may also redirect you to sites that harbour malware disguised as free phone apps. WhatsApp has recently rolled out video calling for Android, iOS and Windows users. However, eligible users can get the new feature via an official app update not by clicking a link in an “invite” message.

WhatsApp Video Calling Scam

Detailed Analysis:
This message, which is currently circulating via cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp, invites you to click a link to download WhatsApp’s new video calling feature.  The message, which is titled “Activate WhatsApp Videocall”, claims that you can click to get a new “leaked” version of video calling along with “many more features”.

However, you will not get WhatsApp video calling by clicking the link and the message is certainly not an official WhatsApp notification. In fact, the message is a scam designed to trick you into divulging your personal information and downloading malware.

If you click the link, you will first be taken to a fraudulent website that claims that, to get video calling, you must first send out the same “invite” messages to a number of your WhatsApp contacts. After you have spammed all your friends as instructed,  you will then be told that you must complete one or more surveys to verify your eligibility to receive video calling.

Clicking the links presented will take you to various websites that promise prizes in exchange for filling in surveys and providing your name, phone numbers, email address and home address. But, legal clauses on the sites will state that, by participating, you are agreeing that your information can be shared with third-party marketing companies.  Thus, you will soon begin receiving unwanted and annoying phone calls, text messages, emails, and surface letters promoting a variety of products and services.

Alternatively, you may be tricked into entering your mobile phone number and thus subscribing to a very expensive SMS “club” that will charge you several dollars for every message they send you.

The scammers will earn commissions each time somebody provides their details on one of the dodgy survey sites or subscribes to one of the SMS  “clubs”.

You may also be offered the chance to download a variety of “free apps” along with the supposed video calling update.  However, these apps will contain malware that can infect your phone if you install them.

Note that, in a much-anticipated move, WhatsApp has recently rolled out video calling for Android, iOS and Windows users. Users with eligible devices can get video calling simply by updating WhatsApp via their phone platform’s official app store. You do not need to click a link to download video calling from a website and you should not trust any message that asks you to do so.  The scammers have capitalised on news of the new WhatsApp feature by sending out these fake invites.

The scam described here is similar to earlier WhatsApp scam campaigns that falsely claimed that users could get new features or updates by clicking links in “invite” messages.

Always get any updates for WhatsApp via the official app store for your device.  The WhatsApp website includes a download page that directs you to the correct download site for the device you are using.

Last updated: November 22, 2016
First published: November 22, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

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