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11th Dec 2017

The WhatsApp scam threatening to hack your phone is a hoax

Michael Lanigan


Don’t fear the chain-mail.

A hoax is currently doing the rounds on WhatsApp claiming that users of the encrypted messaging service are being sent malicious software. The scam, called ‘Martinelli’ is supposedly capable of hacking into a users phone in under 10 seconds, resulting in irreparable damage.

One version of the message claims that the warning has been issued by a member of an Garda Síochána, known as Sean Lee, in which it says:

“Warning from Sean Lee in An Garda. An IT colleage has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called martinelli [sic] do not open it , it hacks your phone and nothing will fix it.”

For anyone preparing to uninstall the app, before stocking up on beans and battening down the hatches, rest assured, this is a piece of chain-mail identified as a hoax by Spanish police earlier this year.

According to Jess Kelly, Newstalk’s technology correspondent, there are no signs of any threat from the ‘Martinelli scam’.

“It reminds me of the chain messages I used to get in the post when I was a kid, this is just a modern version of that”, she is quoted in saying.

Of course, anybody who has ever received such chain texts from a primary school pupil can confirm that failing to send the message to 10 friends or their crush does in fact lead to the ghost of an orphan appearing in their room one minute later.

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