Blog

Soumya Patnaik
Whatsapp Hoax (fake) Messages Doing the Rounds Again
June 25, 2013

Today one of my colleagues received a message on WhatsApp that read:
“Hello, I. Am riya director of whatsapp, this message is to inform all of our users that we have only 530 accounts available for new phones, and that our servers have recently been very congested, so we asking for your help to solve this problem…”

The message was a fake message but had appeared through a contact which indicates that it is actively in circulation.

In April 2013, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum boasted of a bigger user base than Twitter. Close to 18 billion messages are processed by WhatsApp per day. That is a good 8 billion more than daily Facebook posts.

WhatsApp is one of the hottest things on mobile, but like everything that is popular and real-time it isn’t devoid of trouble makers. And this time the hoaxes on WhatsApp are back with a vengeance.

To begin with, hoaxes distribute false, often disturbing, information designed to trick recipients into passing the same note onto other users. Hoaxes can have a variety of reasons for being circulated. In an earlier blog we talked about hoaxes and how they are used.

On Jan 162012, WhatsApp users received a message that went like this “WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user.”

Soon enough, the company blog came up with a post where they declared that it was a hoax.

However, it didn’t stop at that. The messaging service was used to circulate timely and false messages which were almost all the same.

hoax

Typically the WhatsApp hoax messages are of two types. One is as shown above and the other appears to be a personal message from the WhatsApp CEO and reads like this “Whatsapp is shutting down on 28th jan Message from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours…”

With every repeated hoax, the name of the CEO changes and can be anyone from Jim Balsamic to Riya. What is surprising is that these hoaxes are not restricted to the WhatsApp platform only they have spilled over to Twitter and Facebook as well. An example of a Facebook message that has been doing rounds is as below:

FBmessage

Now let’s do a reality check. No decent service provider will ever word a payment message like a chain letter. If WhatsApp was really serious about charging you for usage, do you think that they will simply ask you to “forward messages” to your friends?

For the “still” confused lot, here are some clarifications:

Reality: iPhone users need to pay a one-time flat fee of $0.99 to download and use the app for life. No other annual renewal payments are required. In fact, if you have to re-install the app, you just have to use the same iTunes account and you will be able to download for free.

Reality: Android, Blackberry OS, Series 50, Symbian and Windows Phone users can download and use the app for free for the first year, after which they will have to pay a renewal fee of $0.99 per year.

For more details you can refer to WhatsApp FAQ section, which clearly indicates that “WhatsApp will never automatically charge you for your subscription”.

Hoaxes like this spread because we believe without actually doing a background check. Awareness is the first step to restricting yourself from becoming the victim or a means to spread the hoax.

 

 

 

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

55 Comments

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  1. How many charges for activating.

    Reply
  2. thanks , keep up the true , excellent, service.

    Reply
  3. why this discrimination? iPhone users are charged only once and others would be charged every year?

    Reply
  4. this is really a very useful information for all of whatsapp users who are confused a ready to forward the fake messeges to others….in fact this message must be spread…..:-)

    Reply
  5. Rashi BajajJune 26, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    There was another type of Hoax saying to forward the msg to 10 people to get additional smilies.

    Reply
  6. ss deepankarJune 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    thanks

    Reply
  7. chetan s. jaiswalJune 26, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    thanks for the clarification…was of gr8 help

    Reply
  8. Very good.

    Reply
  9. Thanks

    Reply
  10. I had received such mail from a friend. After opening the message, a message flashed saying that the version will expire in 5 days and i was automatically connected to internet for updation of the same….which i did.

    Is it alright? should i be worried?

    Reply
    • Hi Anshuman

      What is the exact problem that you’re facing? If you’re unable to figure out, you can run a virus scan. An effective multi-layered security software should be able to detect if it’s a bug.
      You can also share this query on our forum at forums.quickheal.com (please give the details of the problem) and get an answer from the experts.

      Regards,

      Reply
  11. Yes, you should be worried because the source where you were redirected automatically and reinstalled the software might not be a genuine place. Full chances are there that newer version which you’ve downloaded is not genuine.
    You might be leaking your info and messages and stuff.

    Solution- Reinstall from trusted source.

    Goodluck

    Reply
  12. Thanx for valuable support all the time…

    Reply
  13. Good n beneficial information

    Reply
  14. I am using android.
    Is there any possibility of virus in android phones??

    Reply
    • Hi Archit,

      In 2012, it was reported that Android accounted for as much as 96% of mobile malware threats. Given the popularity of the Android OS, it ranks first in the hit list of hackers. Using a reliable mobile security software, and taking the right precautions will definitely help reduce such risks.

      Regards,

      Reply
  15. i forwarded the hoax message what will happen after that

    Reply
  16. And its doing the rounds again…. this time it is
    Hello. I. Am DAVID D. SURETECH founder of whatsapp, this message is to inform all of our users that we only have 53million accounts available for new phones. (The rest is pretty much the same)

    Reply
  17. These hoaxes r really annoying but some of them r quite good such as it would be gr8 if whatsapp did have free calls because then more people would want to get whatsapp as it would come in a full package. So its really annoying when these fake messages come. Is it possible for whatsapp to find out where the hoaxes r comming from and then to send them an email or to give them a nessage with a warning ti try and stop them from making more hoaxes about whatsapp

    Reply
  18. but why??????what is the interest of circuling this kind of messages(hoaxs)

    Reply
    • Hi Driss,

      There is no definite explanation behind the motive of spreading hoaxes. There could be innumerable reasons including psychological ones, to such acts. But what’s more important is to stay cautious against such elements and prevent them from spreading further.

      Regards,

      Reply
  19. I guess a lot of my contacts have the I.Q. of a potato, because I keep getting these stupid chain letters.

    Reply
  20. hi every one can u help me out please its urgent actually i m using my whatsapp on my pc using bluestacks app but last some days some one send me msg after that msg my all wahtsapp screen goes white and nothing showing also nothing functionally happend also not showing any contact detail to block that person can u reply me fast

    Reply
    • Hi Ajay,

      This seems to be some sort of compatibility issue with the BlueStacks program. Perhaps you should try uninstalling and then reinstalling BlueStacks and WhatsApp from your PC.

      Regards.

      Reply
  21. Samson enoshAugust 24, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    this msg i got today..

    Next monday morning whatsapp will become chargeable as facebook hs ovrtkn it. If you have at least 10 contacts send them this message. In this way weR will see that you are an avid user and your logo will become blue (

    Reply
    • Hi Samson,

      This seems to be a hoax message and we have not heard or seen anything else related to this. So do not believe this message completely and be wary about visiting any links that are present in the message that you have received.

      Regards.

      Reply
  22. sanjay thengeOctober 6, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I have received a fake message which is being circulated on whats app to spread Hatred in two religion.How it can be stopped?

    Sanjay Thenge

    Reply
    • Hi Sanjay,

      We would advise you not to forward the message any further. You can request your friends not to share the same on WhatsApp and social media channels.

      Regards,

      Reply
  23. I got a msg. is that true
    Next Monday morning whatsapp will become chargeable as Facebook has ovrtaken it. If you have at least 10 contacts send them this message. In this way we will see that you are an avid user and your logo will become blue (

    Reply
  24. whatsup is gonna paid ?is it true ?

    Reply
    • Hi Rahul,

      While WhatsApp is free to use, it does have an expiry date, but this varies from user to user. You can check for how long your WhatsApp service will be free by following the below steps:

      1. Open WhatsApp
      2. Go to Settings
      3. Click Account
      4. Click Payment Info
      5. View Service Expiration

      Regards,

      Reply
  25. Please make it free for our accounts, just a advice, many of my friends are changing to other services due to the needed payment of whatsapp, do considet my comments (its just a suggestion) and keep up thr good work!! Whatsapp Continue to strive!

    Reply
  26. RABIA BASHARATDecember 7, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    who is the director of whatsapp pllzzzz tell me I want to talk something about my account??

    Reply
  27. Hi All,
    Am receiving contact cards from unknown person. How to block it??

    Regards
    Vikas I M

    Reply
    • Hi Vikas,

      Are you receiving these cards on WhatsApp? You can block these numbers on WhatsApp itself. On the app, go to Settings >> Account >> Privacy >> Blocked contacts

      Regards,

      Reply
  28. Received as whatsapp msg contains shared contact with name. What’s up number is local (tried but not working ) shared contact numer +67570891408 (Papua new guinea) with name chakrika. Checked the number in true caller , the details were same. I called the number instantly INR 100 deducted from my account.

    I don’t understand what is the motive behind this act. No way they gonna receive my money. Either sadistic pleasure or want to help network operator. Or any other motive behind it ?? How true caller gives exact details.

    I was called to Papua number because I work in oil and gas – drilling operations, recently applied job in Papua. There is no way a HR will send a contact info through what’s up but My curiosity made me to call back.

    Reply
    • Hi Sree,

      Have you checked the ISD rates for calls to New Guinea? Since you have recently applied for a job there, it is possible that someone from there is trying to contact you through this medium. On the other hand, it could be a fake call from New Guinea. But the timing of the coincidence probably implies that someone is genuinely trying to reach you. But just to be on the safe side, wait for them to reach out to you again.

      Regards.

      Reply
  29. Hey, i am inviting you to try whatsapp calling click here to activate now –> http://WhatsappCalling.com

    Pls see into it

    Reply
  30. Got text from a fake no +7442062590 can i knw who did dis

    Reply
  31. I had whatsapp calling feature in my android phone, now when i switched over to windows mobile iam not able to locate the calling icon, how do i get it?

    Reply
    • Hi Ravinder,

      We believe this feature is only available for Android as of now. Windows and iOS are expected to get the feature at a later stage.

      Regards.

      Reply
      • Thanks Rahul…

        Also I would like to know that, why do people create forwarded messages, like there was one which says – send this message 10 people and God will help you, blah blah…

        What is the intention behind this, could they spread virus thru a simple text message, or is it a way to collect database (if yes, how could it possibly happen), or what could be the reason?

        share the info if you know

        Reply
        • Hi Ravinder,

          These are just like the chain mails which are created as email attachments or forwards. Some people genuinely like to share this information while some people use these tricks to view email IDs of all the recipients in the trail. The intention is not malicious, but the information can potentially be used in a wrong manner. Hope that helps.

          Regards.

          Reply
  32. Arun Kumar MGMay 7, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    what about some messages contains request(with image) like

    this child has health problem , opearation costs 2,00,000 pls share this to all of yur friends in whatsapp. By forwarding this to one person whatsapp will gives us 1 rs. pls forward.

    is whatsapp really pay money for forward messages……?

    Reply
    • Hi Arun,

      This is a scam message and you must not believe what it says. WhatsApp will not contribute money towards charitable causes in this manner by asking people to forward messages like this.

      Regards.

      Reply
  33. I am receiving a message with photo and audio and telling that the person in the image is medically affected and for treatment whatsapp company agreed for paying rs.1 for sharing message… is it true??.. my friends are still believing it and forwarding me..

    Reply
    • Hi Giridharan,

      This looks like a classic case of spam and hoax messages forwarded via WhatsApp. Please do not forward it and request your friends to verify such information first before forwarding them to others.

      Regards,

      Reply
  34. Whatsapp DPMay 2, 2016 at 2:12 PM

    Thanks for sharing this Post, Keep Updating such topics.
    Whatsapp DP

    Reply
  35. Noureddine el BourgiJanuary 7, 2017 at 5:49 AM

    I get a message from Américain number said that I win thousands dollars from the company and asked me to email Mr Ronald Paul is that true or it scamers

    Reply