Image: © Depositphotos/Mactrunk
Users of the popular cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp should watch for a scam message that tries to trick them into clicking a malicious link to pay a subscription fee.
The scam message claims that your WhatsApp subscription has expired and instructs you to click a link to verify your account and purchase a lifetime subscription for 99p.
The scam message looks like this:
The message has no connection to WhatsApp and the claim that you must pay for a subscription is untrue. Prior to 2016, WhatsApp was charging users a $1 yearly fee after the first year but the company removed this fee in January 2016.
So, any message claiming that you are required to pay a subscription fee to use the application is fraudulent.
Those who fall for the ruse and click the link in the scam message will be taken to a website that asks them to supply their personal and financial information. These sites may also harbour malware or attempt to trick users into visiting further scam and malware websites.
If you receive one of these messages, just delete it.
In recent years, WhatsApp users have been targeted in a number of other scams. One claimed that users should follow a link to install a new version of the application. Others have claimed that users should click to activate new features. Again, these fraudulent messages were designed to trick users into visiting scam and malware websites.
A number of silly WhatsApp related hoaxes have also circulated. One claimed that your account would be deleted if you did not send the same message to ten contacts. Another claimed that you would be charged a per-message fee if you did not share the message with others.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp back in 2014 for $US19 billion.
Update: August 18, 2017
An email version of the scam is also being distributed. The scam email contains links to a phishing website designed to steal your personal and financial information.
An example of the scam email:
Subject: Important Information from WhatsApp
Attention: Please update your payment information today to avoid service interruption. | View this email in your browser.
Your subscription is ending soon.
Please update your payment information now.
UPDATE YOUR PAYMENT INFORMATION
Our records indicate that your WhatsApp trial service is exceeding the one year period. At the completion of your trial period your WhatsApp will no longer be able to send or receive message. To continue using WhatsApp without interuption, we need you to subscribe for any of our subscription periods.
To avoid service interruption, please subscribe by visiting your account page below.
Sign in to the customer portal with your Number: [Link removed]
We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter, and look forward to continuing to meet your communication needs.
The WhatsApp Team
Importance NoticeAfter 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 YouI 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 DateHoax-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!