If you have received a WhatsApp message promising you 1000 GB of free internet data, online security experts warn that such messages should be ignored since it is obviously a scam. These messages are currently making the rounds, and cybersecurity firm ESET warns recipients to simply delete it without acting on it in any way.
The message states that the 1000 GB data giveaway is to reward the up to 1.2 million global WhatsApp users on the 10th anniversary of the digital messaging app.
It also encourages recipients to click on an accompanying link. But the link does not lead to the WhatsApp official website; but to another website supposedly set up to defraud users. The website contains several obviously dubious offers from Nestle, Adidas and Rolex among several other reputable brands.
“What strikes us right off the bat here is that the URL that comes with the message is not an official WhatsApp domain,” the researchers wrote.
After landing on the site from the link attached to the dubious WhatsApp message, users are asked to take part in an opinion survey about the WhatsApp app and where the initial offer message was found. After the survey, users are then asked to forward the offer to 30 other people in order to qualify for the big reward.
Security experts from ESET said this is possibly to increase the reach of the scam campaign. They opine that the scammers are possibly running a click fraud scheme where they can generate huge revenue from spurious ad clicks.
“Apparently their goal here is click fraud – a highly prevalent monetization scheme that relies on racking up bogus ad clicks that ultimately bring revenues for the operators of any given campaign,” ESET warned.
The researchers however warn that the dubious website could be switched to a phishing website where the personal data and identity of users can be stolen. Hackers are known to put up dubious offers in order to scam unsuspecting members of the public.
Also, hackers could possibly use the link in the dubious WhatsApp message to install malicious software on recipients’ mobile devices with a view to accessing their personal data and financial accounts.
The best course of action is to ignore and delete the message without passing it on to other people. This will protect you and your friends and possibly everybody.
WhatsApp has not responded officially to this incident.