Watch out for this WhatsApp scam offering free data

A closer look at WhatsApp

Through recent months and years, we’ve seen quite a few WhatsApp scams do the rounds. We’ve seen fake links and phishing scams go viral and even fake versions of WhatsApp complete with unrealistic features.

Normally, the trick the hackers are trying to pull over us revolves around sending us to fake websites where they can infect our devices with malware and get private data out of us. They also might just bombard us with ads. An old classic.

This final one is exactly the MO of the latest WhatsApp scam that we’ve detected spreading across the network.

Look out for WhatsApp messages offering you 1000GB of free internet data

Fake WhatsApp message about 1000GB of free data
Image via: ESET

As is often the case with phishing scams, this latest WhatsApp scam is offering something that is too good to be true. Limited data plans are common these days, with many people falling short on their allowance before the end of the month. Being offered 1000GB of free internet is such a good offer, our better judgment might fly out the window.

The security team at We Live Security came upon such a message recently and decided to follow it to see where it would lead. The link took them to a URL that was not officially connected to WhatsApp where they were submitted to a particular type of click fraud. The We Live Security blog post describing the scam had this to say about click fraud, “[It is] a highly prevalent monetization scheme that relies on racking up bogus ad clicks that ultimately bring revenues for the operators of any given campaign.”

Basically, the site connected to this scam offers a huge reward to entice you to visit a fake website. The website is filled with questions that you need to answer if you want to collect your reward. Every time you click on the page to answer a question the fake sites generates revenue. Then, you’re asked to share the site with 30 of your friends to qualify for the prize you were first promised. In the end, you’ve spent a lot of time clicking on a fake website, spammed 30 of your friends with the false promise of a massive data allowance boost, and then you finish up with nothing for your trouble.

Fake site asking you to send it to 30 friends
Image via: ESET

The researchers at We Live Security didn’t find malware on the site, but they also pointed out that this didn’t mean there wouldn’t be any there in the future. On top of that, they also noted that the website domain connected to the scam is also being used to run multiple other click fraud scams while pretending to be other reputable brands like, “Adidas, Nestlé and Rolex, to name but a few.”

Wrapping up

The message from all of this is that if you ever see an offer pop up on WhatsApp or any other of your social channels that appears too good to be true, you should avoid it. Make sure you keep your eyes open for dodgy URLs and if something doesn’t look official, avoid it like the plague.

As we always say when reporting on scams like this, you are your own best line of defense. Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for the warning signs we’ve outlined above, if you want to have the best chance possible of staying safe when online.

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