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Beware of ‘Surprise Message’ Notifications on Facebook and WhatsApp

by Brett M. Christensen

Many Facebook and WhatsApp users are receiving notifications claiming that someone sent them a surprise message.

The notifications feature an envelope icon along with a row of smileys and a website link.

Clicking on the notifications opens a dodgy webpage that asks you to supply your name in order to personalise a “greeting card”. The page then prompts you to click a button and share the “greeting card” with your friends via Facebook or WhatsApp.
Dozens of almost identical unsecure websites are being or have been used to distribute the messages. It appears that several of the sites have already been removed.

The exact motivation of those responsible for creating the sites remains a little unclear.  Some reports suggest that the sites contain malicious scripts, although I have not been able to verify that claim after examining several versions.

Some of the sites prompt users to download a potentially malicious browser extension or redirect users to various suspect “offer” websites.

Others may be simply attempting to reach a wider audience and thus generate revenue via site advertising.

If you receive one of these messages, do not click on it. And, if you do end up on one of the websites, do not provide any information or click on any links.

Here’s a screenshot:

Surprise Message Notification

 

 

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer