Messages are sent to users inboxes offering the ‘exclusive’ chance to download WhatsApp Gold which offers enhanced features ‘used by big celebrities’. Claimed features include video calling, being able to delete messages after they have been sent and the ability to send more than 100 pictures at once.
If you follow the link, you will be directed to a fake download page and users of Android devices will see their phone or tablet infected with malware.
Malware can allow criminals to steal your data and track your online activity - putting your passwords and even bank details at risk.
WhatsApp Gold is the latest incarnation of a scam which has previously gone under the name WhatsApp plus.
In order to safeguard security, WhatsApp will actually disable any user accounts the service believes to be compromised with the malware.
The WhatsApp FAQ site has this to say: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorized by WhatsApp.
“The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.
“Please uninstall your application and install an authorized version of WhatsApp from our website or Google Play. After the 24-hour countdown ends you will be able to use WhatsApp.”
Users who have already followed the link are being advised by fraud reporting service Action Fraud to install reputable antivirus software such as Sophos, AVG or Avast to rectify the problem and remove the infection.