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Misleading WhatsApp SMS ‘Update’ Messages Hit South African Users

by Brett M. Christensen

Mobile phone users in South Africa are being hit with SMS messages from a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) stating, ‘you have not updated to the latest WhatsApp Add-ons.’

WhatsApp Update Scam 1

The text prompts them to click a link, which takes them to a page with a green ‘CONTINUE’ button.

WhatsApp Update Scam 2

If people press on the ‘CONTINUE’ button – and do not read all the fine print underneath – they will be charged 7 Rand a day (more than 200 Rand a month) on their phone bills.

WhatsApp Update Scam 3

It is technically legal for the WASP providers to do this, as they are being upfront on their page about the added fees (in fine print under the CONTINUE button).

However, they send out millions of these SMS messages and count on people NOT reading the fine print, as they are busy. This makes a lot of money for the WASP providers.
To make matters worse, people often do not realize for some time that they are being billed anything extra due to the small amounts. The process for opting out is sometimes made exceptionally difficult. And, once people do manage to opt out, some WASP providers may reportedly stop for a few weeks and then commence again, hoping that the person will not notice.

Never update WhatsApp by following a link in a message.

Update the application via the update option in settings as described in the WhatsApp FAQ.

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