WhatsApp has quickly become one of the most prominent communication tools used by mainstream consumers. This also makes the platform a target for criminals and a new free WiFi scam is going around. Criminals claim WhatsApp offers users free WiFi connectivity to users who run out of 3G airtime. Such an offer sounds too good to be true, and users should avoid this at all costs.
Avoid The Fake Whatsapp WiFi Offer
One of the first giveaways of this offer not being legitimate is how the message redirects users to a .ML domain extension. Mali has given away domain names for quite some time now, and WhatsApp would not rely on a free domain name for a global service. Although a free domain name does not automatically mean a service is less legitimate, it also shows a lack of professionalism.
Secondly, the message sent out is filled with many different spelling errors. WhatsApp, as well as other technology companies, pride themselves upon using proper English grammar at all times. The message even fails to get the company name right every time, which shows it is written by someone who does not master the English language all that well. However, most people will not be turned off by this issue, even though they should know better.
Once a user clicks on the domain name link in the message, they will be drawn into a bait-and-switch scheme. Users are promised something in return for doing something for the company providing the service. In this case, people need to qualify to unlock free WiFi connectivity courtesy of WhatsApp.
Although it is expected the nature of these “qualification offers” will change over time, the current scheme revolves around forcing users to spread this offer to as many people as they can. It is not unlikely future visitors will be asked to fill in surveys, or sign up for trial access to a paid service. Do keep in mind these criminals could use such offers to obtain payment card information as well.
Criminals are free to tailor the qualification procedure based on the visitors’ location, browser, and even the time of day. This scam will target computer and mobile users alike, as it is rather easy to make the offering seem genuine. A lot of people will fall for this scam over time, and they will drag along a lot of other people with them as a result.
On Android, the criminals force users to download an application before they receive the free WhatsApp WiFi. These APK files can contain malicious code, granting the crooks backdoor access to your device at all times. Interestingly enough, one of the links to download the app seems to redirect to the Itunes store, for some unknown reason. A very odd scheme, to say the least.
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