By now, anyone who spends any amount of time online should be able to tell you that the internet is brimming with scam attempts, all of them ranging between subtly malicious and outright obvious. Such is the case with the “WhatsApp Gold” scam that so many people seem eager to dip their toes into. The reason that these types of scams work so well isn’t because we’re getting dumber (even though it does seem like most of them can be avoided with a little bit of common sense.) Instead, the people that are passing around this false information and designing these perilous traps have caught on to what people online–especially people who spend a lot of time on social media10 Best Facebook Secrets, Hack, & Tips and messaging apps–want to hear. If you’ve been caught unaware by the “WhatsApp Gold” word that’s passing around, read on to get the full scoop, and a few words of warning about how to avoid app-based scams.
It’s no insignificant fact that a vast majority of people in the world have a smartphone in their pocket. The tech has become affordable, the connectivity widespread, and the amount of work that a person can do on a mobile device is expanding at a rapid rate. Install a word-processing app and you can turn that phone and its six-inch screen into a productivity powerhouse that is relatively capable of accomplishing the same things as a desktop computer or laptop. Truly, the only thing that’s limiting smartphones at all anymore is their relatively thin profile and minuscule size–you simply can’t do a ton of work on a small screen.
That said, everyone has one, and the reasons that we have to spend more time on our smartphones is also multiplying. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the people designing scams and traps meant to take your money and personal information are going to be focusing their efforts on smartphones, too.
App and smartphone culture has certainly created a great breeding ground for it, too. Think back upon your recent app experiences, and single out the number of times that you’ve seen offers for paid updates within apps, or paid benefits to mobile games, or “Premium” versions of paid apps. If you’re like me, those offers are frequent enough to be featured in more apps than they aren’t. This has contributed to a widespread feeling of “inadequacy” when people are using the free version of an app. Because the “Premium” or paid version is seen to receive otherwise standard features in comparison, people will always be longing for a way to “upgrade” the apps that they care the most for.
This is why WhatsApp Gold is such a smart scam.
In the following brief guide, we’ll show you why you should delete any offer for WhatsApp Gold immediately, and reveal how you can identify it for the scam that it is. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use these same techniques and habits to keep your online experience scam-free, going forward.
What is WhatsApp Gold?
The truth is, WhatsApp Gold is a scam. However, we should look at it from an objective standpoint first, and take a look at some of the things that it’s falsely promising to people who dare to download it. I say “falsely,” because the only addition feature that you’re going to get from partaking in this scam is extra charges tacked onto your monthly phone bill. It’s a malicious little trick that, while being easily identified, can do some serious damage if you’ve already accidentally believed it.
What should ring the first set of warning alarms in your mind is the additional set of tools that “WhatsApp Gold” is promising you. Though it’s a fairly long list at this point (because they’re all fabricated) some of the most frequent features promised are…
- The ability to make unlimited video calls, anywhere in the world.
- Freedom to send as many pictures as you want, all attached to a single message.
- A “delete message” option that allows you to delete messages after you’ve sent them. (This one is particularly tempting for people who “angry text,” or frequently send messages without thinking about their content.)
After going through a list of things that are impossibly tempting to a majority of WhatsApp users, you’re then asked to follow a link to a different website entirely, in order to “sign up” and get access to WhatsApp Gold. If that second set of alarm bells started ringing, good for you. You’re properly cautious.
Once you arrive on this alternate website–which is almost certainly riddled with malware–you’ll be asked for a single piece of information to gain access to your “Premium” version of WhatsApp: your phone number. After that, you’re asked to follow a download link to yet another website that has no actual download–just more links to more malicious software.
Of course, the reason that there isn’t a download is because WhatsApp Gold is entirely a fabricated scam, and there is no such app available to download or install from third-parties or otherwise. The only thing that you’re going to get from chasing these links is a mobile device and/or computer infected with difficult-to-detect, harmful bugs, and viruses. It’s a surefire way to have a bad time, and worse.
How Can I Tell It’s a Scam?
Many tech blogs are going to tell you that “common sense” will tell you whether or not something is a scam, but based on the number of people that buy into scams like WhatsApp Gold, I feel that it takes a little bit more than common sense to dodge these fishy risks.
There’s actually a fairly easy to to look for holes in the swiss cheese that is an app-based scam, and we’ll outline a few of them here. Keep in mind that none of these should be relied on alone, 100% of the time. Instead, look at all of the checks that we provide, and combine them to help you to determine if a particular offer is fresh, fishy, or outright awful.
- Is there a version of the app on authorized app stores? Here’s the first place that I check, every single time. When I first happened upon the WhatsApp Gold email that was sent to millions of people, I went straight to the App Store on my iPhone and did a search for “WhatsApp Gold.” Guess what? No app. Only the very same version of WhatsApp that I’ve been happily using for months. On almost every occasion, premium versions of apps are accessed two ways–through a separate download from the app store, or through an in-app purchase made within the base app. Since my quaint little WhatsApp software doesn’t have jack to say about WhatsApp Gold, and I can’t find it on the App Store, I can almost guarantee that it’s a fake.
- Does the offer include outrageous features that would never be supported? Look, we have all wanted to take back something we’ve said, at some point in our lives. The same can be said for a messaging app. However, if a massive messaging platform like WhatsApp ever implemented the types of features that this scam offered (featured above), it would sink faster than the Titanic, no iceberg required. Messaging functions exist as they are for users’ privacy and security. You can’t “delete” a message that you’ve already sent because the feature would be flagrantly abused. You can’t send hundreds of pictures with a single message, because the required bandwidth would probably crash a smartphone app. You can’t make unlimited video calls, because video calls devour mobile data.
- Does the offer lead you to another, third-party website? This is another telltale sign that the offer you’re dealing with is bogus. In the case of WhatsApp Gold, the only acceptable place to enter your information to receive anything having to do with WhatsApp is the app’s home website. Anywhere else should be immediately suspect, especially if anything else looks off about the site. Are things spelled incorrectly? Does it look poorly designed? It’s usually easy to tell when a website isn’t professionally designed (as the primary WhatsApp site truly is.)
What Are the Dangers of WhatsApp Gold?
The list of dangers that can come from scams like this are plentiful, but they’re the only thing that awaits you for falling for one. They can range from theft of your personal information to the destruction of your data or, in the worst circumstance, irreparable damage to your hardware. Any one of these is bad, and made worse by the fact that you can avoid it altogether.
In online space, the more crowded a place or service is, the more likely it is that you’re going to see scams related to it. WhatsApp gold has circulated through peoples’ email and on Facebook, and though each effort is usually squashed, it’s snared more than its fair share of people who don’t know any better. WhatsApp Gold is a scam, and now that you have the means to investigate and prove it for yourself, you can avoid falling victim to such things in the future!