Homer Simpson once famously quipped that, "It takes two to lie: one to lie, and one to listen." Perhaps there was more wisdom in his words than we thought, if the latest scam involving WhatsApp is any indication. In the scam, users receive a message promising free internet access without Wi-Fi, but following the link leads them only to unwanted software, some of it malicious, and further propagation of the scam.
This information comes by way of the WeLiveSecurity blog from the Bratislava, Slovakia-based antivirus and security firm ESET. The scam is actually an extremely simple one, worthy of note only for the brazen stupidity of its claim. (Unless you also have active cellular data service on your phone or tablet, you can't get internet access without Wi-Fi.) It all starts when users receive a message in their WhatsApp inboxes or in one of their groups.
“You can already get Internet Free Without WI-FI (sic) with Whatsapp, and it is by means of invitations, here I give you an invitation!” the poorly written message proclaims. The message links to a site that's supposed to mimic the WhatsApp domain, but even a cursory examination reveals that it's just a shoddy copycat.
If users follow the link, it informs them that they must share the link 13 times (or five times in WhatsApp groups) in order to get access to free internet service. Fake photos from satisfied Facebook users claiming that the service really works help sweeten the scam, but alas, those users don’t really exist.
Meeting the sharing requirements doesn't do anything, naturally, except bring you to a plethora of other scam sites. These websites range in severity from premium-SMS scams to installing potentially dangerous third-party software. The best-case scenario ends up wasting your time; the worst-case scenario puts malicious software on your phone.
Just how the scam proposes to provide free internet access without Wi-Fi is hard to say, and even casual internet users should know better than to fall for a scam that has no technological basis. As always, the best defense here is to be wary of clicking on links from unknown users, especially poorly written ones. If you did contract a piece of malware from this scam, run an Android antivirus program and hope for the best.